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Exeter's Tom Johnson expecting tougher test for England against Australia

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

Exeter Chiefs flanker Tom Johnson was satisfied with the shift he put in as England beat Fiji last weekend

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Tom Johnson is still purring after appearing in his first Twickenham Test last weekend, but he and the rest of the England side know that a much tougher assignment lies ahead against Australia this weekend.

The Exeter Chiefs blindside managed to cap his performance with a second-half try as Fiji were beaten 54-12 in England's opening autumn international last Saturday.

"It was immense," said the 30-year-old, who was winning his fourth international cap. "I played there a couple of times against the Barbarians in front of around 40,000, and I thought that was amazing, but Saturday just took the roof off. I thought it was brilliant."

On his score – a simple finish on the overlap – Johnson added: "I was pretty much handed the ball right over the line so it was just a case of making sure I didn't drop it – that was the only thought that was going through my head!"

But it was not all plain sailing for Stuart Lancaster's side, despite what the scoreline might suggest. Yes, England ran in seven tries, but they started alarmingly badly and only just held out after being camped inside their own 22 for phase after phase in the opening quarter of the match.

Could England's slow start be blamed purely on the fact they had not played together, or do the problems run deeper? "Perhaps," admitted Johnson, "we were a bit edgy.

"What tended to happen was that we did something well but then we compounded it with errors. I don't think we understood how it could have happened but looking back at the video you could see that our basics let us down a little bit, soft penalties, turnover balls – at times we were right under the cosh."

Lancaster and his squad have been over the negatives in their analysis sessions, and the overall verdict is a positive one, despite there clearly being room for improvement heading into this tomorrow's visit of Australia to Twickenham.

"As a whole we did pretty well," argued Johnson. "We have talked about the areas we need to improve. The start and also the chances that we created and didn't put away. But still we scored seven tries and they are a decent outfit the Fijians, so I would say we are just about happy with it."

On a personal note, the verdict is similar from Johnson. While he was understandably delighted with his try and his role in a strong pack performance, he admits he would have liked to have seen more of ball. "I was reasonably happy with how things went," he said. "I probably didn't do as much carrying as I would have liked to have done, but we have been trying to hold plenty of width and move ball into space and that was part of my role.

"We've had a few things to work on with [coach] Andy Farrell this week but generally it's moving in the right direction."

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