England romp to victory in Rome


England recorded a comfortable win over Italy in sun-drenched Rome on Saturday afternoon, beating the hosts 52-11. Chasing Ireland’s points total going into the game 49 points behind, they fell agonisingly seven points short.

It didn’t take long for England to get into their stride, Luther Burrell giving a nice offload to Mike Brown who sprinted down the left hand touchline to cross for the first of his two tries. Owen Farrell then scored in the 31st minute before Brown bagged his second shortly before half time.

There followed four second half tries for England, including a first for Jack Nowell, as they genuinely threatened to surpass Ireland’s points difference and set Ireland a target in Rome. But an intercept try for Italy’s Leonardo Sarto in the 68th minute put paid to that, and in the end they couldn’t chase it down.

For England, Mike Brown was once again the stand out player. The fullback made 111 metres, beat five defenders and made seven gainline breaks. Manu Tuilagi also impressed after coming off the bench, making 37 metres and five gainline breaks in his half an hour on the pitch.

There wasn’t much to shout about for Italy, but centre Michele Campagnaro again looked good. The youngster made 46 metres beating four defenders, and made seven tackles in a solid defensive effort.

statsThe stats in general were comprehensively in England’s favour. They made an impressive 480 metres to Italy’s to 271, and beat a huge 25 defenders – smashing the pre-game target of 15 set by the IBM TryTracker.

So all eyes are on Paris now, and England fans find themselves in the strange situation of having to cheer on the French. Unlikely, sure, but stranger things have happened. Allez.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

For more stats and live analysis during all the England games, head to IBM TryTracker.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

42 thoughts on “England romp to victory in Rome

  1. England have come a long way! Put 52 points on Italy in Italy, and I still thought they could have improved their performance considerably. Previously we would have been happy with a win. SL doing a very good job and I will hold my hands up and say so are Catt and Farrell now. Didn’t think I would say that!

    Things to work on:-

    Give Yarde and Wade a chance to show what they can do. Nowell and May have been ok but you can’t help feeling there is more to come from the wing position.

    Work out the best centre combination of Tuilagi, 36 and Burrell.

    Give Ford some more game time.

    Find out who is our best replacement 7.

    Much shorter list than 6 months ago!

  2. Brown has got to get player of the tournament. 3 MotM performances in 5 games, most metres made, most defenders beaten and in with a chance of most tries scored.
    Wouldn’t surprise me if BOD gets gifted it for retiring though.
    Never thought I’d cheer for France.

    1. If anyone other than Brown wins MOTT Tom then it would be a joke. Clear, clear man of the tourny and the sentimental option of giving it to BOD must be resisted. It’s a vote I believe so as long as the English get behind their rightful winner it should be fine.

      It’ll be interesting to see what happens when a fully fit and firing Foden returns. Obviously SL won’t hand him the shirt, I suppose he’ll just replace Goode on the bench?

      England did everything they could. That’s a big, big score to rack up in Rome nowadays. I saw the RFU tweet a picture of the English team, all in dinner jackets at the function in Rome, standing in a corridor watching the France game on the big screen. Caption read that it was fifteen minutes left. I think that photo is the most painful thing I’ve seen in sport for a long time – to have it in someone else’s hands must be unbearable but it’s partly what makes this the best rugby tournament in the world, by a million miles. 5 games. No second chances. Once a year. Magic.

      1. I think Foden will take the 23 shirt, and is probably a better makeshift wing than brown. He has actually been very unlucky as he was the incumbent but a series of injuries have allowed brown to make the shirt his own.

  3. Not enough. Well done Ireland. Fully deserved. Feel very deflated though. We’ve shown good progress but I’m fed up with coming 2nd. Third year running. I hope Lancaster isn’t going to be our Eddie O’Sullivan, always getting plaudits for the way his team played but perennial runners up.

    1. I’m gutted but Ireland were worth the title. How France didn’t clinch it with the penalty, and then again with the overlap is beyond me.
      As is BOD’s MotM award, last cap aside he produced far less than the likes of Murray, Sexton, Bastareaud and Dulin.
      But if anybody should be ruing, it is us for not closing out the French/putting more points on the Scots.
      Nearly men once more, and yet another 4-0-1 record but a lot of progress has been made in terms of depth and attack.
      On to New Zealand.

    2. Not sure Eddie O’Sullivan ever had his team make so much progress as we have under SL. Slowly but surely it is not just coming together for next year, but probably the next 5 years. If we’d played like this in the last two years we would have walked the championship. This year is the most competitive 6N for a very long time and we only lost out on points difference, while not always playing at our best. Serious progress. Looking forward to see how we compare with NZ in their backyard. The true benchmark!

        1. Brighty, take it as you will. It’s not a slight on Wales as you seem to think. A team can only play what is in front of them. England didn’t play like this last year or the year before and Wales won the tournament. Simple as that. Wales were winners and worthy of it. However the play in this year’s tournament has been a step up on previous years. That’s a good thing for NH rugby. I’m looking forward to NZ in the summer much more than I was 3 months ago. Might be misplaced hope I accept.

          1. Staggy, the idea that this years England would have “walked” the last two six nations is indeed a slight on Wales. I tire of this notion that Wales can only win poor tournaments, we can’t win the “good” ones. This years England would still have lost to last years Wales, and the one before. England have definitely improved, Wales have gone backwards. This years table is a fair reflection of where everyone is right now. To try and backdate is a little mealy mouthed – enjoy your wins, enjoy finishing above Wales, no need to try and claim some sort of overall superiority over the 3 years surely?

            1. I don’t think any side in world rugby could have lived with that performance in Cardiff last year, this year’s England don’t beat last year’s on 30-3).

              The most deserving team has won in the last 3 years, England with no championship wins ironically now have the best record over the 3 years.

              …. But I’m only interested in next year!

              1. Agreed Matt, next year *should* be classic. Would hope to see Wales improve, Ireland consolidate and England blend their massive options together (PS. I don’t see Manu walking into this team given Burrel was the standout 13 of the tournament…). You have to really, really hope that France can’t just keep being mentally inconsistent. So fingers cross for a 4 way fight next year.

                As for Scotland .. I hope they can up their game. A few years ago we were saying if only they could convert all those chances they kept getting, now I’m worried that they’re not even getting the chances.

            2. Take it as you will Brighty, but if England had played last year like they did this year their points difference would have been so large going into the last game against Wales that I still think that they would have won the tournament. I still think Wales would have won the game by the way, so maybe my hyperbole of walking the tournament was a little too much, but I still think they would have won. However the fact of the matter is that they didn’t, and actually you could say that if Ireland has played like this for the last two years they would have won too, so it is only so much idle speculation and banter. Don’t get all defensive about Wales. The history books show they won the last two tournaments and nothing can change that. The simple fact of the matter is that we all speculate on whether this team or that team from different stages of history were better, and the fantastic thing is that we will never know so it will be a debate with no answer that will run and run. Teams can only beat what is in front of them at the time. Wales did that. I’m not slighting that achievement.

              1. Ok, it was the “walked” comment that drew me in there. I agree with you that the comparisons are interesting and the like but I’ve seen “Wales win the crap ones” often enough to assume that “England would have walked it” was yet another reference to Wales winning the easy years when the other teams are not up for it. DDD was saying the same thing himself last week.

  4. I thought Trimble would’ve been a worthy motm! Delighted we’ve won though! France were probably the better side on the day but the nearly men for so long it’s about time we won a close one!

  5. Agree with the comments, england have improved immeasurably in last 2 years.

    Totally agree with staggy assessment too. The wings are my only concern, not sure either did enough to retain places.

    Robshaw looked dead on feet at end, a back up 7 needs to be identified and blooded as cover going forward.

    1. Hopefully kvesic will look better next season behind an improved Gloucester pack, and Fraser was looking for senior squad inclusion before a pretty bad spell of injuries, so I don’t think the back row is in that bad a place, but new combinations do need trying out.

      I would give yarde and wade a chance on the wing, Nowell and May got better through the championship so the others deserve the same opportunity.

      I’m excited to see how the players push on for the final few rounds of the prem

      1. I thought Nowell got better but May seemed to suffer in confidence after the Ireland match. Always going inside getting turned over most of the time. I would’ve kept Burrell on and taken may off for Manu but I think management were desperate for may to get a try.

  6. The results have remained the same but the performances and style of play has improved immensely. There are so many positives to take from this campaign. Our biggest problem is slow starts, it has cost us against France and NZ.

    Hartley is playing very well (apart from the penalties he gave away against Wales) but I do not any great faith in his replacement Tom Youngs at the moment. Great to see Ford in the game albeit for a short period. If Farrell plays in the premiership final then he might be our starting fly-half for the first tour match.

  7. Well done Ireland, with a top quality coach in they are finally looking as good as the sum of their parts.

    Delighted with the England performance, that margin of victory with lots of room for improvement is really encouraging. Great to see some first phase strike moves run (mysteriously absent from England’s play for years) and having Brown join the line regularly as a runner, decoy or distributor is adding a real dimension to the attack.

    Issues to work on:
    – I worry for Jonny May, I think he’s got potential as a top class winger but seems to be suffering a loss of confidence (or increased pressure) after not getting that ball down against Ireland, hopefully he’ll run in some good scores for the C&Ws and tour well this summer.
    – On the other wing Nowell has shown he’s a useful player to be able to call upon, but we need to find something more lethal (hopefully in the shape of Wade). Agree with those that see his best position as FB in the future, preferably with another yard or pace.
    – Dickson isn’t a good enough backup. Very poor when he came on (and I don’t understand the change either).
    – Youngs has had over 3 months working with Lawes as a lineout caller in England camps during the AIs and 6N, no excuses anymore. He’s not been that special around the park to make up for the continued poor throwing. I would like to see Webber given a go, especially as he’s a big scrum unit and he’s got the understanding with the backup lineout caller (Attwood)
    – Scrum and maul, maul in particular needs to be much better drilled, we need to be converting some opportunities to even make kicking to the corner an option.

    Think we should take a look at Burrell as a 12 in the summer, he’s looked a far better all round player than 36. With 2 or 3 defenders watching Manu and Burrell’s power and good lines it could work really well. 36 has a better kicking game, but Burrell’s offloading has been top class. Offloads and keeping the ball off the deck are crucial to how England are now wanting to play so Burrell seems to fit that better. Manu is too much of a freak to leave out, his one man dismantling of the ruck at the end to create the turnover for the last try was pure beast! Great to see him back.

    1. I agree that Burrell had a better tournament than Twelvetrees.

      I disagree that Burrell should play 12. In fact I’d say Twelvetrees is far far more important to us than Burrell.

      Twelvetrees has been vital in getting this new Farrell playing the way he has. It’s not even a quality thing, because Twelvetrees was often lacking in quality particularly at the start of the tournament, but a style thing.

      That 2nd playmaker liberates Farrell. I think Burrell at 12 would see a return to the Farrell who played inside Barritt. For me 9-10-12 is working really well, the question is who’s gonna play outside them to finish the chances they’re creating. Burrell had a fantastic tournament and his place is only under question because Manu is so good, but that’s the debate, which one starts 13. We’ve found a balance in midfield that can defend and take chances, no need to mess around with it.

      1. If they did decide to stick with the 9, 10, 12 combination I can’t argue it’s a bad decision. My view is that most of the Farrell improvement is coming from having Care inside rather than 36 outside. How many clips have we seen of all the defenders looking in watching what Care is doing creating opportunities (and more time) for Farrell. You can hear Care on the ref mic really marshalling the players round the field, Farrell doesn’t have to worry about dictating the game and is benefiting from having less to focus on. We’ve also seen Farrell be pretty average inside 36 in the Autumn.

        Burrell is a 12, many people held the view he should even have been capped at 13. He’s been a class above 36 playing in a less familiar position. So I certainly think there’s merit in trying him at 12 for England.

        But with games before the RWC running out if they decide to stick and not twist I won’t be moaning about it!

  8. Been debating my team of the tournament – some shoe ins and some question marks.

    Brown, Kearney unlucky.
    North, I know he played some centre but he always looks dangerous.
    Burrell, sentimental vote would have been BoD who was good. Campanaro looked like an Italian JD which bodes well.
    12Ts, could have been D’Arcy but not a great 6N for 12s.
    Huget, right place right time, a very good habit for wings. Trimble unlucky.
    Sexton, Farrell unlucky.
    Heaslip, Vunipola if he hadn’t been injured.
    Warburton, Robshaw and Henry in the mix, but the Welshman is class.
    PoM, Wood unlucky.
    Best, Hartley was in pole until the last two games. What a difference 6 months makes for Best!
    Hmmm – really struggling with the other prop. Not the best vintage for front rows!

    Interested in what people think. 6 English, 5 Irish, 2 Welsh, 1 French and one undecided. Probably a fair reflection of the tournament on reflection!

    1. Heaslip? Really? Think Billy V did more in 2.5 matches than most of his competitors. Not really sold on Warburton myself.

      1. If Billy had been fit all of the way through I would have picked him. Without that, Heaslip did a huge amount of work in all of the games I saw him play. Some effective carrying, turn overs and tackling. Thought he was consistent. Still thought Warburton played well in a team that was struggling a bit. Brighty will love that comment! Henry and Robshaw both had excellent tournaments.

        1. I agree with you about a low par Wales and a good tournament for Robshaw. In the XV the only Welsh I’d have would be Warburton and North with Liam Williams on the bench.

          1. It was the point about Warburton standing out in a struggling team – I know you love that analysis when it comes to Parisse!!!!

  9. Why do the English rugby WAGS smile so much?

    Because their partners have been coming second for three years!!

  10. Team of the tournament time! I would probably go for:

    1. C. Healey
    2. D. Hartley
    3. M. Ross
    4. C. Lawes
    5. J. Launchbury
    6. P. O’Mahoney
    7. C. Robshaw
    8. B. Vunipola / B. Morgan

    9. D. Care
    10. J. Sexton
    11. G. North
    12. L. Burrell
    13. B. O’Driscoll
    14. Y. Huget
    15. M. Brown

    1. That’s cheating putting two 13s in the team. Why didn’t I think of that! They were probably the two best centres. I did consider Ross – maybe I should have stuck him in.

    2. Think that’s the team I would go for as well (Billy V at 8). If no rule bending on putting players in different shirts to which they appeared in the 6N is allowed then I would go Burrell at 13 and Roberts at 12.

  11. My XV

    1 – Healy
    2 – Hartley (would have loved to have seen what Ken Owens could have done with a full tournament)
    3 – Ross
    4 – POC
    5 – Launchbury
    6 – O’Mahoney
    7 – Warburton
    8 – Vunipola
    9 – Care
    10 – Sexton
    11 – North
    12 – Matt Scott
    13 – Burrell
    14 – Huget
    15 – Leigh Halfpenny …

    .. stirring, of course, 15 – Mike Brown

    5 irish, 6 English, 2 Welsh, 1 Scot, 1 French

    1. Can’t see PoC myself. He had a decent tournament but Lawes had an exceptional one. Did consider Matt Scott, but I thought that he was better last year. Didn’t think that he had the same impact this year, although 12 wasn’t a strong point for the tournament I admit.

      1. POC is in there cos his play was great but his ability to drag Ireland through some tight moments makes him essential in my XV.

        I didn’t think this year was great for 12’s and Scott was the only one I remember watching and thinking that he did some excellent things.

        Players to watch for next year?

        Wales new tight head and scrum half looked excellent on Sat but who knows what that means. Liam Williams to be the “new Mike Brown”? At wing he’s ok, at full back he is excellent. Sam Burgess of course. Who will be Ireland’s 13? Will Manu reclaim the shirt? – personally I think Burrell is a better player.

        1. First time I’ve seen Liam Williams and thought ‘Yeah, he’s got something, which is pleasing’. Campagnaro and Allam for Italy, who I thought were better than their record suggests.

          George Ford, and Ian Madigan, I think.

          for England I’d like to see if Eastmond and Wade can make it to the next level, and Luke Cowan dickie

          1. Yeah, Allan could be a real find for Italy. They have some good centres and a good pack. If Allan can improve then this will be a big plus for them.

    2. Lawes won his head to head with POC. Lawes was the top 2nd row in the comp in my view, he steals so much ball (another 2 on Sat). Think he played every minute of every game as well, his pace and fitness late in the game is incredible. England’s second best player.

      Actually thought Wales looked better with Williams at fullback, the Brown comparison is a good one. With Biggar doing well off the tee and Williams likely to get a run of a few games could 1/2p be looking at the 23 shirt next year?

      I’m glad Manu has some serious competition for the shirt, but if you compare his return after a long time out to JD2 it highlights how impressive his contribution was after so little rugby.

      1. On the Tuilagi question. You are comparing a better skill set (Burrell) against a force of nature (Tuilagi). Which one makes the team play better – I have no idea!

    3. No BOD!? I would be tempted to have Burrell at 12 with BOD at 13. I know Burrel didn’t play 12 in the tournament, but he plays there regularly, and I don’t think any other 12’s really stood out.

      I would change POC for Lawes, and Warburton for Robshaw but the rest of the team I would agree with.

  12. My XV…

    15 Brown
    14 Huget
    13 O’Driscoll (Fofana)
    12 Burrell
    11 North
    10 Sexton
    9 Care

    1 Healy
    2 Best
    3 Ross (Cole)
    4 Launchbury
    5 Lawes
    6 O’Mahoney
    7 Warburton (Nyanga)
    8 Heaslip (Vunipola)

    Mostly the team picks itself, I think. Hard to pick the TH and 12 because no one really excelled, and the wings are the best of a distinctly average group. At Hooker Hartley was probably in 1st place until the last 2 games, but Best was more consistent. 8 I would be happy with any one of Vunipola, Faletau, Heaslip, Denton or Parisse, but no one played all the games at a consistently high level – with either injury or inconsistency causing this to be a hard pick.

    If injuries hadn’t cut short their tournaments, I think Cole, Nyanga, Vunipola and Fofana would have been in there.

    So that’s 5 English, 1 French, 2 Welsh and 7 Irish. Seems a fair reflection.

  13. So best units are……

    Irish front row.
    English locks.
    Irish back row??? Could be England or Wales here.
    Half backs, England or Ireland – tough one. I’ll go for national bias and select England.
    Centres England
    Wings Italy!!!!!!!!!! + Brown or back three Ireland. Wales, Italy and France in with a shout.

    Looks like Ireland are worthy winners when you look at the best units!

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