RBS Six Nations 2012: England team to face Italy

Stuart Lancaster has retained the exact match-day 22 from the last weekend’s Calcutta Cup victory over Scotland, with Phil Dowson continuing in the number 8 shirt despite pressure from Ben Morgan. Lee Dickson is named on the bench despite his hand injury earlier in the week, with Joe Simpson travelling with the squad as injury cover, as is Harlequins prop Joe Marler.


15. Ben Foden, 14. Chris Ashton, 13. Brad Barritt, 12. Owen Farrell, 11. David Strettle, 10. Charlie Hodgson, 9. Ben Youngs, 1. Alex Corbisiero, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Mouritz Botha, 5. Tom Palmer, 6. Tom Croft, 7. Chris Robshaw (c), 8. Phil Dowson


16. Rob Webber, 17. Matt Stevens, 18. Geoff Parling, 19. Ben Morgan, 20. Lee Dickson, 21. Jordan Turner-Hall, 22. Mike Brown

32 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: England team to face Italy

    1. I would definitely have started with Moragn, and put Dowson at 6 with Croft on the bench. When do you ever see Croft carrying the ball forward like a good 6 should? Just look at Ferris, Dussattoir and Ryan Jones. All good ball carriers.

      1. I don’t think the England management should drop Dowson after just one match. You can’t give a guy one shot in a totally new team and drop him if it doesn’t go perfectly. It would sent the wrong message to the other guys and they would start panic-playing to keep their positions.

  1. Strettle seems to get tossed around like a rag doll.

    Are we going to play him against France and wales Malzieu and North?

      1. ha.
        watched banahan v exeter in the LV and he was truly awful, like some sort of medical experiment gone wrong.

        Olly Woodburn seems to be tearing it up on the other wing tho.

        1. Haha! I’m loving your comment Jimmy. I’m just wondering what sort of experiment it was? Is there a Dr. Frankenstein working in the Bath area?

          1. Dazza – its just the mix of tattoos, long mister man limbs, total lack of acceleration of the mark like jabba the hut, turning circle of a mummy and persistent attempts to flick the ball out of the back of hish and to NO ONE.

            so an experiment to fuse MR Tickle, the Mummy and jabba the hut.

    1. I know what you’re saying Jimmy, but going forward he is excellent.He did make some cracking tackles last week. And against Italy, not likely he’ll have much defending to do out wide! I would still have him over Banahan!!!!!!!!

    2. Strettle is solid, I would play him in any team, Malzieu and North are great, but I think you need a solid fearless character like Strettle to keep them quiet. Sharples and a guys like Armitage are fun but think Mr Malzieu and Mr North will just push them off the bus.

      1. really?

        Sharples is the better winger, hes a better footballer, hes heavier, quicker and stronger in the tackle.

        I think well see strettle getting run over

        1. But hey look, I’m an South African, will be honest I have not seen as much of Sharples as I have seen of Strettle here in the Republic…Maybe a bit biast as Strettle is a Saracens bra… Haha. But if you all rate Sharples that high then maybe I am wrong. Guess with Farrell being backs coach Strettle was going to be his fav…

      2. Where have people got the idea that Strettle is a good defender. Hes a poor defender both physically in the tackle and technically positioning himself flying out of the line etc.

  2. Really hope last weeks performance for Dowson was over filled with emotion and he shows his true ability this weekend. Think Lancaster is right in fielding the same team – sends the message to players that you won’t be dropped, so go out and play. Will be interesting to see who makes the starting 15 + bench come the Wales game when everyone should be back from injury though

    1. Over-filled with emotion? He dropped the ball once, but then had a much better game than he’s getting credit for – 12 tackles (2nd highest after Barritt) and slowed a lot of ball down.

      One carry from Morgan from the base and he’s suddenly a god!

      *really hope Dowson has a blinder to back up all the defending I’m doing!

      1. He was great in defence, but like Croft, really didn’t show anything in attack. But from the base of one scrum Morgan gained more yards carrying the ball than Croft or Dowson did before he came on. Dowson at six, where he’s more comfortable, Croft on the bench, and we’d be sorted. I would definitely rather see Dowson playing than Croft.

      2. Not sure where you got those tackle stats from but Robshaw and Botha were the two top tackers with 15 and no misses. Foden was worst – 3 made, 2 missed!

        Dowson did play better than he is getting credit for and got through a lot of work after his early ball dropping wobble! Im glad he has a second start.

  3. I would also have gone Dowson 6, Robbo 7, Morgan 8, however i commend Lancaster on not dropping any of the forwards.

    I’d have dropped Youngs though in favour of Dicko, as youngs is woefully off form.

    1. I’m hoping Youngs has had a rocket up his arse after last weekend. And feel he is probably starting because of Dickson’s hand.

    2. You would have dropped Croft but you commend Lancaster for not dropping him? I really don’t get that.

  4. Jimmy – being a bit harsh on Strettle methinks – he did everything that was asked of him last week and even showed in attack (did another back?).

    I’m another that was in favour of changes with the team, but Lancaster clearly set out his stall before the first game and said he wasn’t going to tinker, so I guess he’s stuck to his guns and decided that one game does not a bad player make – which is probably fair enough. It will be telling if the same players don’t perform this week and then still retain their places!

    Let’s hope for some quick ball this week and some more adventure around the park, although with Italy at home, I’m not convinced. Anyway roll on the game although sadly I’ll be driving through France while it’s on – don’t suppose French radio will broadcast the game in English just for me! (For the record, I know I’m not going to get any sympathy!!).

  5. First time for nigh on 2 years that we have picked an unchanged side, which is refreshing. Morgan for Dowson would have been my change, as for most it seems. I also like Parling and would have given him a go from the off in Rome in the place of Palmer (bench).

    Whatever, we know what awaits us in Italy: an essentially forward-based threat. If we can quieten that, tame Parisse and keep their half-backs on the back-foot, we should be more than good enough to get back-to-back differences.

  6. I can see this one going just like the Scotland one (with England pulling a bit further clear). There pack is good enough to stop us getting much decent attacking ball so we can’t score too many tries. I think it will be another bore fest.

  7. i think they should bench Dowson , he`s not and out and out last man down … give Morgan the number eight shirt he`d do some damage with his ball carrying ability and will be good in the ruck areas and fringes … Dowson not clever and good enough to even be in the england squad he may be good with northampton but not in and England shirt … if he was to play nuumber eight or even on the flank against new zealand , australia or south africa he`d stand no chance at all … so give Ben Morgan the start he deserves… cheerz

  8. Everyone going on about how amazing Ben Morgan was with that singular ball carry last week, and how he made more ground or whatever seems to not realise or just forget that it was against a tired Scottish defence.

    1. james you have gotta be having a giraffe pal … did you pay attention to the game last saturday , now tell me how many carries did Dowson had and how many tackles did he break ??? as a former number eight myself i think that Dowson`s not good enough ,he hasn`t got the built , power and pace that a number eight should possess … what england want is a robust and powerful number eight that`ll break tackles and gain yards after yards … Dowson won`t do that for england , he`s just there to make up the numbers . i say get Dowson out of the squad , throw Luke Narraway in or Thomas Waldrom and Ben Morgan should own the number eight jersey …. Dowson just a joke… seriously speaking , this current England backrow won`t stand a chance against Ireland , Wales and France …

  9. Strettle is an excellent defender. One might think he flies out the line but that is part of Saracens’ defensive structure. They defend narrow and the wide man comes up out the defensive line to prevent the long pass coming, forcing the ball carrier into contact where more forwards are likely to be. He’s probably the most consistent kick chaser in the premiership as well. Tom Croft has bags of pace and thats what they should be using, look at how well he played for the Lions. Thats how he should be used, Wales followed suit with Jamie Roberts.

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