The Ugly Truth
England have learnt some valuable lessons, says Barnes
Last Updated: June 23, 2012 7:30pm
Barnes: impressed by England's learning capacity
Stuart Barnes says England's performance may not win any beauty contests but it will hold them in good stead.
"There is progress - there is no doubt that today was a move in the right direction even though it will never win a beauty contest as a Test match."
Stuart Barnes Quotes of the week
England salvaged some pride from their tour of South Africa as they grabbed a 14-14 draw in the third Test against the Springboks in Port Elizabeth. South Africa may go away with a 2-0 series win but Barnes believes that the tour will be invaluable for England in years to come.
"I think a draw in Port Elisabeth should be given great credit," said the Sky Sports rugby pundit.
"Let's face facts it was a pretty ugly game and to a certain extent that was partly of England's making. They understood that they were caught cold emotionally at Ellis Park and they were not going to let that happen again.
"There were three 21 year olds in the midfield and for them to front up defensively and to understand what they were doing without the ball was really impressive. With the ball in hand it was not the greatest performance and I do think that South Africa really suffered from the absence of Willem Alberts and Frans Steyn - but England had Chris Robshaw out.
"Overall they can go away and look at the second half and say that they learnt from the first half in Ellis Park. There is progress - there is no doubt that today was a move in the right direction even though it will never win a beauty contest as a Test match."
Barnes was also impressed by Alex Goode who made his England debut at fullback and believes he could go on to play a major role in England's attacking game.
"I think England have been struggling to get this 10, 12 passing game right," added Barnes.
"It has not happened on this tour and it might come by having the 10, 15 passing game. We may arrive at Stuart Lancaster's philosophy by a very different route to what we thought initially.
"We all think a lot of Goode - he played well today. Not so much by what he did, but his composure and his aura - he was like to the manor born. He has great vision and I thought he was outstanding.
"As for Tom Johnson, that is a real credit to the selection of this team. We can remember last year we talked about Johnson and he was not on anyone's radar. Lancaster has opened up his mind and had a look and because of that, Johnson's pace has really lifted England.
"He is almost as quick as Tom Croft but he gets down and dirty a lot more than Croft. It just makes competition in the backrow so strong and that can only be good."