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'I think Wales have surprised a few people': Johnson not counting on dream decider

England cannot afford to give Scotland the scent of victory in the closing stages at Murrayfield, says Martin Johnson.

Former England captain and coach Martin Johnson
Former England captain and coach Martin Johnson

MARTIN JOHNSON SAYS England must avoid giving Scotland the “scent of victory” in the final 15 minutes of their crunch Six Nations encounter at Murrayfield on Saturday.

England’s Grand Slam credentials will receive a stern test in the Calcutta Cup clash in Edinburgh against a team fancied as pre-tournament contenders for the championship.

Scotland were thrashed 34-7 by Wales in Cardiff in their tournament opener but overturned a 10-point deficit to defeat France 32-26 last time out.

World Cup-winning captain and ex-head coach Johnson has urged England to put the game to bed to avoid suffering the same fate as Les Bleus.

Johnson, speaking at the launch of the inaugural Velo South at the London Bike Show, told Omnisport: “You look at Scotland the last time they played, the last 15 minutes they looked very, very strong.

“They had the scent of victory there and the crowd and the players were suddenly bigger and they probably played their best rugby in the last 15 minutes. If you’re England you don’t want to be in that position.

“Whenever England play anyone they want to beat them, the opposition want to beat them, Scotland, Wales, France, Ireland, they all want to beat England so every game’s big, every game’s fought and won.”

The last round of fixtures sees England host Ireland at Twickenham in what many see as a potential championship and Grand Slam decider.

That scenario remains on the cards, but Johnson thinks the unpredictable nature of the tournament – as evidenced by Wales’ defeat of Scotland – means nothing can be taken for granted.

“Wales go to Ireland with not a lot of pressure on them and that can make them dangerous. This tournament is far more to me a set of individual games than it is a tournament,” he added.

“You almost can’t tell from week to week. The games are so big, I always used to treat it as separate games, not really connected to the week before, the year before, you’ve just got to get over what’s in front of you.

“The world changed after the first week a little bit, it changed again after the second week and it’ll change again after the third week.

“Maybe at the start people were saying Ireland, if they could win away in Paris, would probably get to Twickenham unbeaten but we’ll see. I think Wales have surprised a few people, played very well, it makes all the games exciting, I think you wouldn’t be fully confident of predicting the results at the weekend.”

Martin Johnson is riding the inaugural Velo South – a brand new 100-mile closed road sportive for the UK, held on 23rd September 2018. Pre-registrations close midnight 28th February 2018: www.velosouth.com

- Omni

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