England could not live up to the high standards set in yesterday’s RBS Six Nations matches in beating Italy by 17 points to 12.
The game was painful to watch for long periods, with England preferring to kick possession away rather than run the ball. It was an odd decision, because on the rare occasion that they did move the ball through the hands, they actually looked dangerous.
Riki Flutey made a couple of breaks, as did England’s other outside backs, and they looked likely to score on several occasions. “Run it” we screamed, but kicking the ball was the preferred option, and England’s kicking from hand has still not improved.
England scored one try through Mathew Tait after some lovely hands from Delon Armitage and Ugo Monye, and it looked as if they would pull away, particularly when Martin Castrogiovanni was sin-binned.
But with 8 minutes to go, Mirco Bergamasco landed his fourth penalty to narrow the gap to 2 points, and the crowd scented a famous win. A Jonny Wilkinson dropped goal made things slightly more comfortable in the dying moments, but there weren’t really any high points for England.
It was expected that England would play a narrow game and look to frustrate England, but actually it was the Azzurri who played most of the rugby. They were infinitely better than they were last week against Ireland, and if they had won the game, nobody would have said they didn’t deserve it.
Steve Borthwick said at the end, “We created some fantastic stuff out there. There’s a lot of positives to take from the game.”
Jerry Guscott’s response to that was, “He’s watched a totally different game.”
We’ll bring you more reaction and opinion, with player ratings and other features, but in the meantime, leave us your thoughts on the game.