Six Nations 2013: England v Italy Prediction

Stuart Lancaster’s England are two games away from their first Grand Slam for 10 years. After just a year in charge, that is an impressive achievement. Along with Rowntree, Farrell Snr. and now Catt, he has built a squad and a culture that has seen them rise from underachievers to the best the Northern Hemisphere has to offer. This weekend, it is the turn of Italy to enter HQ and whilst they have shown fleeting flickers of improvement, it is a game England really should expect to win.

Reasons to back England
Lancaster has managed to make several changes without actually weakening the team. This is a fantastic place to be in for England. The new half-backs, Danny Care and Toby Flood, are both vastly experienced and will be champing at the bit to show what they can do after having had to bide their time on the bench. Care scored a mesmeric try in the Premiership a few weeks back, and Flood is excellent at attacking the gain-line – a good attribute to have going into a game England are expected to dominate in terms of possession and territory. If they play well, it is an area in which Lancaster will have a genuine selection headache for the Wales game.

Mako Vunipola adds his ballast to the front row, and with Marler looking solid if unspectacular so far he has a real chance to become England’s no.1 loose-head (at least until Corbisiero returns). Perhaps the most intriguing call of all comes next to him, with Tom Youngs reinstated for Dylan Hartley. After being given his chance against France it would seem that Hartley has not done enough to convince the management he is the undisputed first choice at hooker. Youngs, who is still raw but has the potential to be better than Hartley, seems to be the man they are backing longer-term. His dynamism is a useful asset for England to have.

The bench is also exciting. With Italian legs tiring in the second half, the trio of Ben Youngs, Freddie Burns and Billy Twelvetrees could have a field day. If the game opens up and England carve out a sizeable lead, expect the latter two especially to get some game time. The Burns-Twelvetrees axis was carving up the Premiership at the beginning of the season, and it is an exciting prospect for England fans to potentially see them in a white shirt this weekend. And a mention must go to Tom Croft. It is a shame not to see Billy Vunipola getting a chance, but Crfot’s return from a devastating injury is great to see for all rugby fans. Bulked up but still brimming with pace and skill, he can be a real weapon from the bench.

Reasons to back Italy
Parisse is back. Beyond that it is tough to see many shoots of encouragement. He is as close to indispensable as a player can be to a team, and brings a spark that is otherwise glaringly lacking. You sense that it may be beyond even him to lift his team to what would be one of the biggest upsets for many a year, though. Coach Jacques Brunel has made seven changes to the side that fell to Wales in Rome, including the recall of the mercurial Luciano Orquera at fly-half. He is almost an Italian Michalak – so good against France, so terrible against Scotland. If he can replicate his form from the France game, he could certainly cause England some problems. That is a giant ‘if’, though.

Elsewhere Andrea Lo Cicero is benched after being taught a lesson by Adam Jones. His replacement, Alberto Di Marchi, will not have it any easier against Dan Cole. Martin Castrogiovanni lends some warrior spirit to the cause, and will provide a stern examination of young Vunipola’s credentials. He will be keen not to take a backwards step at scrum time – particularly with clubmate and rival tight-head Cole lining up across from him. Grizzled campaigner Gonzalo Canale comes into the midfield, probably to shackle the giant-sized threat of Manu Tuilagi. Good luck to him.

For Italian fans, the hope remains that they can rediscover the form they showed against France. If the weather is good, and Orquera decides to play well, they certainly have the potential to score some tries. Orquera’s selection would certainly suggest they will look to play some rugby; Kris Burton, their other option, is not a particularly inspiring attacker, but he can drop a goal. They will know there’s no pressure on them, so at the very least they might be able to contribute to an entertaining game.

This game could potentially tell us a lot about the England team. Last year’s affair in Rome was gritty and, frankly, unmemorable. They will want to first and foremost secure the win, but it would be great to see them score some tries against an Italy team that has looked – the France match aside – decidedly average so far. It should be a very comfortable home win – England by 27.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

17 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013: England v Italy Prediction

  1. Italy can often be a bit of a thorn for England. Some tight Games over the years. Thinka Runaway Victory with a Cricket Score would be Ideal but a Victory of any sort will do.

  2. would like to have seen B Vunipola on the bench. Italy shouldn’t threaten too much and fancy a look at a Tuilagi/Twelvetrees midfield…might see that and Burns at 10 in the last 20 though…i’m excited!!

  3. Orquera had a spell at Pro D2 side Auch some years ago…..he was just laughed at!!

  4. Italy have no FH cover on the bench. If Orquera gets injured or is playing badly they have no replacement. Oh dear!!!!

  5. i dont think there will be a 27 point gap, look at previous results and it will tell you england do struggle against this italian side

  6. Whilst I am a little hesitant to say England will run away with it, the fact is that in the last 6 matches at Twickers, England have scored 274 points at an average of more than 45 per match (thanks Mark Souster in The Times this morning!!).

    Cannot see any other result than England by hopefully 20 odd points or more.

    Think the big game of the weekend will be Scotland v Wales; would love Scotland to win to stop the Welsh going on about how next week will be the ‘decider’.

    1. Why so angry about calling it the decider? If Wales beat Scotland it WILL be the decider. I’m hoping for a Wales win and a small England win to set up an exciting Wales v England game where Wales are looking to be more than just spoilers. Surely everyone wants some complicated points difference mathematics?

      1. Keep dreaming. Wales have just struggled past Scotland, England thrashed them.

        England beat Ireland in a clinical manner. Ireland stuffed Wales. Championship decider? Will all the Welsh fans get real!

        1. Liam, as a fellow Englishman you enthusiasm is great, but the reality is, the picture is not as black and white as you paint it. Scotland and Wales have both improved hugely since the opening weekend of the tournament. Not to mention that England will be going to Cardiff, so the welsh will be very up for spoiling the party.

          England running away with the game in Cardiff would be great, and there is the potential for it to happen, but if anyone is going to have to get real, it is you. There is no doubt in my mind that the Wales England game will be a well contested event

          1. Exactly Simo, – Liam, if we took the “A beat B so they’ll beat C” logic then wouldn’t the French team who lost to Wales have been stuffed by the Irish team who “thrashed” Wales (amusing to see eight point margins now a thrashing but ten point ones referred to as struggling). Your welsh antipathy is clearly showing here Liam. It’s part if why next Sat us such a tasty game.

            Clinical England in Ireland? Ha ha ha …. Poor match, poor teams, least worst won with lowest handling error count and least missed kicks.

        2. Keep dreaming Liam. An England performance like that in Cardiff next weekend and the title will be Wales’! A little tip – wait until your team play on the weekend before dissing others….

        3. I am not sure what defines a stuffing but I do not think 8 points and hanging on for most of the 2nd half does. I believe you are 11 years old and probably never played

  7. liam, i take it your english. You cant say that about the rbs six nations champions just getting back on forms after a row of defeats. For all you know italy could beat england which would put their confidence down, i believe the welsh side have the heart and team to beat the english but it will be close however liam it will really test england in all areas of the pitch even more so the scrum of wales.

  8. Spot on Simo
    Liam – Ireland did not thrash Wales and England have not been clinical – it should be a real cause for concern that their performance is declining as this tournament continues – I worry that this will be 2011 again.
    PS I am English so this is not a Celt engaging in Anglo-bashing

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