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OTD: Former England skipper Martin Johnson suffers disappointment

By PA
Leicester Tigers Captain Martin Johnson reaches for the ball during the match against London Wasps in the Zurich Premiership Final match at Twickenham in London 14 May 2005. Wasps won the game 39-14 to win the Premiership title. Johnson was playing his last match for the team and is to retire from rugby. AFP PHOTO ADRIAN DENNIS (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Martin Johnson suffered disappointment in the final match of his illustrious career on this day in 2005 as Leicester were brushed aside by arch-rivals Wasps in the Premiership final.

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Wasps ruined the England World Cup-winning captain’s big day out in front of a 66,000 crowd at Twickenham as Johnson’s final game in a Tigers shirt before retirement – and 500th career start – ended with an emphatic 39-14 defeat.

Johnson said: “I’m very disappointed, not because it’s my last game but because we didn’t do it today. We haven’t played and it’s a nasty feeling.”

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Leicester never recovered from a scintillating Wasps opening that saw them race into a 13-0 lead inside eight minutes, with former England stars Joe Worsley, Josh Lewsey and Simon Shaw producing towering displays to help their side claim a third successive Premiership title.

Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio was not far behind in the work-rate stakes either, as his team underlined their mastery of English rugby’s play-off system to land another championship crown after once again finishing second – behind Leicester -during the regular 22-game league campaign.

Johnson, arguably the greatest English rugby player of all time, was reduced to a mere mortal on an afternoon when Tigers finished a distant second-best.

Neil Back, Johnson’s erstwhile colleague for club and country, also experienced a miserable send-off, as did Leicester coach John Wells.

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But Wasps supremo Warren Gatland said goodbye in style before returning home to New Zealand and a coaching job with the Waikato Chiefs.

After such a blistering start, Wasps never looked back, securing the title through 26 points from full-back Mark van Gisbergen, including a try, as well as touchdowns from Tom Voyce and Rob Hoadley, plus an Alex King drop-goal.

Leicester could only manage a Scott Bemand consolation try and three Andy Goode penalties in reply, leaving 35-year-old Johnson and company without silverware.

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Tim 5 hours ago
'It’s a mental thing': Joe Schmidt on the Wallabies' flyhalf issues

Ben Donaldson had not played Super Rugby for the past eight weeks. Surely, he was playing Shute Shield for Randwick in that time to keep up the fitness…?? Eight weeks is a long break to be thrust in against a hungry skillful side like Georgia who deserve to be in the “7 Nations”. (Italy, Wales & Scotland v Georgia, can’t wait to see those ones). In the second test against Wales, Donaldson was put on for nine minutes. That was a mistake from the coaching team, who already knew he was starting the following week against Georgia. They should have put him on for 20-25 minutes, with Nick Whyte at halfback, and their combination from the Force would have flowed. Donaldsons first 20 minutes against Georgia was a shocker. However, well done to Joe Schmidt for keeping him out there because Donaldsons game improved as the rust came off, he was hammered a few times and handled it and he came into his groove. He made mistakes which they will all learn from. Ben Donaldson is a naturally talented rugby player who the Wallabies have to stick with at no.10. “Over the black Dot-aldson” is a good nick name for him with his awesome goal kicking style. It looks as though, off the boot, it’s going to hit the post. Then it just curves in beautifully every time, once he is in the groove. Donaldsons play this season for the Force, with Kurtley and co., was amazing to watch. Kurtley making one of the best comebacks in history. Donaldson has to be played consistently with Flash Gordon, Big LEN, McReight, Tupou, Kellaway. Oh, that’s right, there is Bell, Kerevi, Petaia (This list does go on a bit). Donaldson will be slotting these weapons into gaps, and into the clear, before we know it… One more thing which I will just assume is happening, just include JOC in the Wallabies squad. He is a rugby genius. His skills, wisdom and experience would be infectious around the Wallabies relatively inexperienced backline. JOC has mastered the art of all the positions long ago. JOC is so skilled and match fit atm taking THE REDS, at no.10, within a point of beating Wales. He can come off the bench and slot into the backline for the Wallabies at 10, 12, 13 or 15 at any stage of a test match. Ummm yeah, not bad… I am assuming that BIG JOE, Laurie “Gandalf” Fischer, Mike “The scrum Doctor” Cron and the team obviously already know all this. I am just a passionate rugby union supporter, and I am very happy that these guys are in charge of the coaching duties, what a coaching team the Wallabies have been blessed with. (Good luck with selecting the match day 23 when Will Skelton, who was playing amazing rugby for La Rochelle, and the boys return from Europe/Japan, Samu Kerevi…???) Now just imagine having Bernie Larkham, Toutai Kefu, Nathan Grey and John “Nobody” Eales as your coaching apprentices… GO AUSTRALIAN RUGBY… Doing a great job Phil Waugh, Joe Roff, Dan Herbert and the team. An amazing three years ahead. GO THE WALLABIES… GO THE WALLAROOS… GO THE 7’s in Paris…

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