Johnson bemoans 'tough loss'

Martin Johnson admitted England’s 20-16 defeat to Ireland was a “tough, tough loss”.

Martin Johnson admitted England’s 20-16 defeat to Ireland was a “tough, tough loss”.

And the England manager urged his players to keep the “horrible feeling” stored inside them and unleash it on Scotland in two weeks’ time.

England had rallied from 13-6 down and took the lead with a Jonny Wilkinson drop-goal nine minutes from time.

But Ireland winger Tommy Bowe sliced through the England defence to score his second try of the game and seal a dramatic late victory.

“It is a tough, tough loss,” said Johnson.

“I thought the guys played very well. They got themselves back into the game and got themselves ahead. It was a tough game, either team could have won it.

“We did a lot of good things. I thought it was a good performance. ”It was wet, muddy and we were playing Ireland so it is going to be difficult. Have we lots to get better at? Yes, we have. It is frustrating for us all because there were chances.

“But we only took one in the second half and they scored two. That was probably the difference.

“It is a very tough loss to take and we will work that through. We will be better for the game.

“I said to the players they have to keep that horrible feeling inside of them for two weeks and release it at Murrayfield.

“We come back to play Scotland, who will be playing that game to save their championship (after today’s defeat to Italy).”

Bowe had opened the scoring after a slick counter-attack just four minutes into the game and Ireland moved further ahead through Keith Earls in the second half.

Ireland built towards the Earls try directly from a penalty conceded by England scrum-half Danny Care for dumping opposite number Tom O’Leary on the turf as he wrestled for the ball.

England had been awarded the scrum penalty but referee Mark Lawrence reversed the decision and Ireland exploited the opportunity to the full.

Johnson questioned whether the penalty reversal was necessary.

“Games turn on things like that,” said Johnson.

“In a game like that, is that a penalty reversal? They jumped in just as quickly (in the subsequent melee).

“I don’t think it was a penalty, personally but it was given.

“Even then we came back but it was disappointing to concede a penalty with the last play of the game when we had driven them back 25 yards.”

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