New Zealand Maori 35 - 28 England: Martin Johnson grumpy after England loss

ENGLAND manager Martin Johnson admitted his young side were taught some brutal lessons by the New Zealand Maori in Napier yesterday.

The tourists had raced into a 13-0 lead with an early try from Steffon Armitage and then recovered from two blistering Maori scores to lead 28-17 at the interval. Danny Care and Chris Ashton scored right at the end of the first half but England then failed to register another point as the Maori took control.

Hosea Gear, somehow rated as only the fifth best wing in New Zealand, completed a ruthless hat-trick to go with a try from captain Liam Messam.

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"It rankles losing that game because there was a definite chance to win it," said Johnson. "I am a bit grumpy. We said international rugby is brutal and at times people didn't do their jobs well enough in the second half for us to be able to win.

"I think it is (a harsh lesson]. We were upbeat at half-time. We knew what we had to do – but we then had to go and do it. We lost our way a bit, we lost our composure slightly, forced a few things and defensively we were poor at the start of the second half. If you don't handle their powerful runners you get what we got, which is a couple of tries conceded and a good lead lost. I should be more upbeat about the whole tour – but it annoys me to chuck away the game."

England's tour ended with a drawn Test series against Australia after Saturday's famous 21-20 victory in Sydney and a split decision for the midweek team, who lost to the Maori but managed a win and a draw against the Wallabies' second-string.

When Johnson steps on to the plane today he will begin the process of whittling down the 46 players used on tour into the senior elite squad of 32 he must name in July.

New Zealand Maori: Newlands (Murray 53); Flynn (Coles 57), Afeaki, Triggs, Hoeata; Lowe, Latimer; Messam, Smith (Tipuna 57), Brett, Gear, McAlister, Sweeney, Maitland, Robinson.

England: Delon Armitage; Strettle, Tait, Barritt, Ashton; C Hodgson (Geraghty 47), Care (Youngs 60); Flatman, Chuter (Webber 48), Doran-Jones (Cole 60), Atwood (Ward-Smith 60), Parling, Robshaw, Steffon Armitage (Haskell 60), Dowson.