Chris Ashton crossed for a converted try in the 77th minute to give them a last-gasp 16-12 victory at Eden Park – and the England manager praised his side for keeping their composure despite having trailed from the ninth minute.
“We kept our nerve in the end and got it won. It’s never dull,” said Johnson after the game. “We got on top in the second half. We didn’t always get rewards but we kept hammering away. “We let them get the initiative, the momentum.
“They were in the game and we weren’t. In the first half we didn’t really have any ball in their half. When we did we got penalties 30, 40 yards out – they were tricky kicks.
“Six points down in a game like this is tough but actually the guys handled it really well, we just had to get the initiative.”
England skipper Lewis Moody was full of praise for Scotland’s display during the dramatic Pool B clash in Auckland.
“Full credit to Scotland. It was an incredibly tough day,” said Moody. “They played a tremendous game. We knew they would and we didn’t make it easy for ourselves by any stretch of the imagination with the penalty count.
“But we can only win the games in front of us and we’ve done that today. We’ve come out on the right side of the result but it was a tough game.”
“We knew Scotland would come out with all their fire and they did and in the second half we counteracted that.”
England will now take on France for a semi-final spot next Saturday, while Scotland’s losing bonus points means they rely on Argentina failing to gain any points against Georgia on Sunday.
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