England name unchanged team to face Italy in Six Nations
Head coach Stuart Lancaster keeps faith with the side that beat Wales in Cardiff
England have named an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Italy at Twickenham.
And after Leicester lock Geoff Parling was ruled out of contention after failing to shake off a knee problem, the Red Rose have also kept the same eight replacements who travelled to Cardiff last weekend.
England claimed an impressive 21-16 victory over Wales in that tournament opener, in a game marked by a fine try from Bath centre Jonathan Joseph and a strong performance from the forwards.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster, however, warned against a repeat of the team’s slow start to the game, which saw them fall 10-0 down within the first ten minutes.
“The start, and building a score, is going to be critical for us,” said Lancaster. “When you’re under pressure, at ten points down, you tend to have to play a little bit more and chase the game a bit.”
The last meeting between England and Italy at Twickenham, in the 2013 Six Nations, was a nerve-wracking affair for the home faithful, who saw their side cling on to an 18-11 victory despite late Azzurri pressure, and Lancaster said that he expected a similarly tough game.
“Across the board, they clearly will make every element of the game competitive and disrupt as much as humanly possible,” he said.
“If you don’t get the detail right when you play against them, you find it very difficult.”
Italy’s team features four changes from the line-up which lost to Ireland, with returns for forwards Mauro Bergamasco, Marco Bortolami and Alberto de Marchi, and a left-wing start for Giovanbattista Venditti.
Italy: Luke McLean (Sale Sharks); Leonardo Sarto (Zebre), Luca Morisi, (Treviso), Andrea Masi (Wasps), Giovanbattista Venditti (Zebre); Kelly Haimona (Zebre), Edoardo Gori (Treviso); Alberto de Marchi (Sale Sharks), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Leicester Tigers), Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon), George Fabio Biagi (Zebre), Marco Bortolami (Zebre), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), Francesco Minto (Treviso), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais, captain)
Replacements: Andrea Manici (Zebre), Matias Agüero (Zebre), Dario Chistolini (Zebre), Joshua Furno (Newcastle Falcons), Samuela Vunisa (Zebre); Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Tommaso Allan (Perpignan), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre).
England: Mike Brown (Harlequins); Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby), Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints), Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby); George Ford (Bath Rugby), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), David Attwood (Bath Rugby),George Kruis (Saracens), James Haskell (Wasps), Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, captain), Billy Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers), Nick Easter (Harlequins), Richard Wigglesworth (Saracens), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester Rugby).