Craig Lewis

England overcome inventive Italy

Jack Nowell scores against Italy Jack Nowell scores against Italy

England overturned a shock half-time deficit to secure a 36-15 bonus-point win over Italy at Twickenham on Sunday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

Forget the scoreline for a second. The fact remains that England have now won their 17th successive Test match, and are now only two victories away from claiming the tier-one record for consecutive wins.

Yet, as they have been for most of the Six Nations, England were far from convincing, and again had to rely on a late surge to clinch a hard-fought result.

Having surprisingly trailed 10-5 at half-time, coach Eddie Jones must have had some stern words to say at the break, as the hosts came out with real intent after the restart, with two quick-fire tries to Danny Care and Elliot Daly putting them back in front.

And although a try to Italy centre Michele Campagnaro briefly cut the deficit to just a couple of points on the hour mark, England finally sealed the result with two tries to Jack Nowell and another to Ben Te'o as the match headed into the latter stages.

From the outset, Italy proved that they had not come to Twickenham merely to make up the numbers. The visitors enjoyed the better possession and territory, while employing some experimental strategies at the breakdown that left England without an answer.

Italy should have also enjoyed an early lead, but flyhalf Tommaso Allan missed two penalties. It appeared as if he would be made to pay for those misses when England prop Dan Cole dotted down in the 24th minute after a strong lineout drive, but Allan made up for his wayward kicks with a well-taken drop goal.

Italy’s flyhalf then had an unexpected hand in a try just before half-time as his penalty kick rebounded off the post, only for winger Giovanbattista Venditti to pounce on the loose ball to dive over and score.

Suddenly, Italy found themselves 10-5 up and leading England at half-time for only the second time in their history, and for the first time at Twickenham.

Nevertheless, England awoke from their slumber in the second half, and took another step towards a historic winning streak.

England – Tries: Dan Cole, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell (2), Ben Te'o. Conversions: Owen Farrell (3).
Italy – Tries: Giovanbattista Venditti, Michele Campagnaro. Conversion: Tommaso Allan. Drop goal: Allan

England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jonny May, 13 Ben Te'o, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 James Haskell, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Jack Nowell.

Italy – 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Abraham Steyn, 5 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Subs: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 George Biagi, 20 Maxime Mata Mbanda', 21 Giorgio Bronzini, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Tommaso Benvenuti.

Photo: Steve Bardens/RFU

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