Six Nations 2014: England rack up a half century in Rome
Six Nations 2014: England put pressure on Ireland with a 52-11 victory over Italy in Rome
England kept their Six Nations title hopes alive by claiming their fourth victory of the campaign, running in seven tries in a 52-11 victory over Italy in Rome.
Mike Brown crossed twice for Stuart Lancaster’s side in the first half while further tries from Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and finally skipper Chris Robshaw wrapped up victory.
With Ireland 49 points clear in terms of points difference before play began, England briefly threatened to overhaul that lead in the second half before an interception score from Leonardo Sarto ended those hopes.
Lancaster’s side will now have to watch on nervously at the France v Ireland clash in Paris this evening to see how events unfold but they can take much heart from a campaign that saw them claim a first Triple Crown in 11 years and ended on a high in Italy.
All the talk in the build up had been about how many points England could stack up in a bid to put the pressure on Ireland later in the day but it was the hosts who dominated possession in the early skirmishes.
And when Brown – near flawless for the majority of the tournament – spilled a high ball after a miscommunication with winger Nowell the Italians had the first attacking platform of the game from the subsequent scrum.
The impressive Azzurri pack got the nudge on and when the English front-row stood up the penalty was conceded and Luciano Orquera made no mistake to put the home side 3-0 to the good.
Parity was not long in coming however as England showed their ambition to spread the ball wide and won a penalty that Farrell – so impressive from the tee all tournament – slotted with ease.
Lancaster’s troops were a touch untidy with ball in hand early on but they began to find their groove in the 13th minute and they soon grabbed their first try, turnover from an Italian lineout furnishing the England backline with quick ball in the opposition 22.
A half break from Luther Burrell saw the Saints centre offload to Brown and the in-form full-back handed off Michele Campagnaro to dive over down the left, Farrell’s conversion making it 10-3.
England’s ambition with ball in hand was clear to see but it was nearly their undoing moments later as, looking to run the ball from deep, Nowell spilled Burrell’s poor pass and Italy countered in style, Leonardo Sarto only denied a second try in successive games by a magnificent covering tackle from Farrell.
But an Italian response was not long in coming, England again pinged at scrum time moments later and Orquera obliging with his second penalty of the game to make it 10-6.
Despite there being only four points between them, as the half hour approached England’s taste for tries was becoming clear and Care turned down a kickable penalty to put the ball in the corner and let the pack do their work.
Big carries from Vunipola and Robshaw brought the Red Rose to within touching distance of the tryline and when Care fed his half-back partner Farrell, the Saracens man picked a good line to go over for the try.
With the conversion England were 17-6 ahead but the first-half scoring was not done there and it was that man Brown who continued the blitz, the full-back bursting clear for his second try of the half after Farrell’s half break and offload had released him.
Farrell’s metronomic work from the kicking tee continued and with the conversion England led 24-6 at the interval despite failing to really hit top gear.
After the interval it was the hosts, despite their growing deficit on the scoreboard, that started stronger and a superb break from Campagnaro was only halted when the referee called for a forward pass.
In truth it was an untidy first ten minutes of the second half with both sides guilty of basic handling errors but England were on top and, under huge pressure on their try line, Marco Bortolami saw yellow – the lock playing the ball when offside but paying the price for persistent team infringements.
And England’s fourth try of the game came immediately afterwards, Nowell grabbing his first try in an England shirt in the left corner as he appeared off his customary right wing to dive over from a set move.
Things did not get much better for the Italians after that, Tuilagi introduced before the hour mark for his first England appearance since last year’s Six Nations.
His first carry sucked in three defenders down the left and when the ball came back right a sidestep from Billy Twelvetrees created space and Vunipola was on hand to run over untouched.
Tuilagi was next to get amongst the scorers, the Leicester man shrugging off two would be tacklers from close range to burst through and increase the lead to 45-6.
England were getting very close to Ireland’s points mark but their challenge took a real hit when Sarto’s interception put the winger in the clear for Italy’s only try of the game.
Lancaster emptied his bench late on but despite almost entirely one-way traffic England had to wait until time added on to grab seventh score, replacement George Ford skipping clear before feeding captain Robshaw who fitting rounded off their campaign with the last score.