It was a win, but it certainly wasn’t pretty – however, England boss Martin Johnson was happy enough with his team’s first World Cup warm-up match.
“It was what we wanted,” he said. “We got far more out of that than the 60-pointers you occasionally get. We didn’t want to run through our moves and treat it as a training game. There were errors from both sides, but that’s the nature of the first game of the season.”
Johnson was delighted with the performance of Jonny Wilkinson, who has played second fiddle to Toby Flood at No 10 in the last year. “It was great work from Jonny to get Manu Tuilagi into the game for the try. He handled the whole game well – but he doesn’t have to prove anything to me.”
The manager also had praise for Tuilagi on his debut, the other two debutants, Mouritz Botha and Charlie Sharples, full-back Delon Armitage and Matt Stevens, who was playing his first Test since his drugs ban.
Stevens himself was thrilled to be back. “It was incredible to walk out at Twickenham to a packed house, with the crowd going mad,” he said. “It was exactly like winning my first cap again. I was ecstatic to just come into Twickenham and drive up through the car park again.”
England skipper Lewis Moody was brought off during the second half with a knee injury but said it was just a tweak and he was also pleased with his team’s performance. “For a first outing as an England side, that first half was pretty promising. We have got to build from there. There is plenty to work on, but it was a win and that’s the main thing.”Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.