x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Johnson demands focus from England ahead of Georgia clash

England are not taking their Pool B game with Georgia lightly, while Wales face Samoa and France take on Canada.

Ben Youngs, the scrum-half, passes a ball as England trained yesterday in Dunedin.
Ben Youngs, the scrum-half, passes a ball as England trained yesterday in Dunedin.

WELLINGTON // England will look to put a week of off-field controversy behind them when they face Georgia at the new indoor stadium in Dunedin today.

Martin Johnson's team, who scraped to a 13-9 victory over Argentina in their opening match last week in Dunedin, were criticised by the British media for their performance and then for taking part in bungee jumping in Queenstown. Some members of the team were spotted enjoying a late night out in town.

Johnson was in no mood yesterday to discuss anything other than the match against Georgia and said it was imperative that his players did not slacken off in their intensity.

"They're a good team," he said of Georgia. "They've got more to them and they have really skilled players. If we are not alert, then they will get something on us. They are a very good team.

"If you lose a physical battle in rugby, you'll lose the game."

In other action today, Samoa have an opportunity to provide the second major upset of the World Cup when they face Wales in Hamilton.

The Samoans, who comfortably accounted for Namibia on Wednesday, knocked Wales out of the World Cup in 1991 and also beat them in 1999.

Brian McLean, Samoa's assistant coach, said that one defeat in pool play will not keep a side from qualifying for the quarter-finals, but "lose two, you're out".

Wales lost 17-16 to South Africa last weekend in their opening game in Pool D. "We're hoping Wales will be out" after today's game," McLean said.

Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, said he wants to see his side play as they did in the narrow defeat South Africa.

"We are very aware we must go out and match the performance of last weekend," he said. "We all know how important Sunday is."

France meet Canada in the final match of the day, in Napier, with the French wary of the Tier Two nations after they suffered a fright against Japan last week in Albany before they eventually pulled away and won 47-21.

"I am very wary of that team. We must get a victory, especially since they won against Tonga," Maxime Medard, the French back, said of Canada.

"Everyone is focused. We must up our game because we could have lost against Japan. We've got to show respect towards all teams. There is no small team."

* Reuters

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