Planet Rugby

England survive Italy storm

11th February 2012 15:04

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italy v england Charlie Hodgson

Chargey Hodgson: Does it again for England

It was a case of close but no cigar for Italy as England claimed another unconvincing 19-15 Six Nations victory in Rome on Saturday.

Italy outscored their hosts two tries to one, however it was once again the boot of Owen Farrell that saved the day for England as the young centre contributed 14 points in horrendous conditions.

The Azzurri will be kicking themselves after leading 12-6 at half-time thanks to two quickfire tries before the break, but weren't able to keep up the pressure in the second half as England were forced to dig deep against their stubborn hosts to claim back-to-back away wins.

After a scrappy opening littered with poor kicking out of hand, England were unfortunate not to bag the game's opening try on the half-hour when David Strettle's kick-through was eventually touched down by Phil Dowson.

Referee Jerome Garces had already blown for obstruction on Strettle - and Farrell converted the resulting penalty before adding another soon afterwards.

But two minutes before the break, a pair of grubber kicks caused confusion and wing Giovanbattista Venditti was on-hand to punish Ben Foden's fumble by falling over the line in the corner.

England seemed set to enter the dressing room one point to the good but from the restart, Foden's attempted off-load was intercepted for centre Tommaso Benvenuti to race under the posts from the halfway line and ignite the stadium.

Italy pivot Kris Burton capitalised with a penalty that made it 15-6 early in the second period, but England immediately clawed their way back into it when opposite number Charlie Hodgson charged down Andrea Masi's attempted clearance for a try out of nowhere.

It was the England fly-half's second charge-down try in as many games - and once again proved to be the turning point in the match.

The introductions of Lee Dickson and Ben Morgan cemented the visitors' momentum - providing the opportunity for the flawless Farrell to drive over a 54th minute penalty and secure the narrowest of leads.

With Martin Castrogiovanni injured in the first period, England had more than held their own up front and Farrell stretched the advantage to 19-15 in the 65th minute from a penalty awarded at a scrum.

Tobias Botes replaced Burton for the final half-hour and was handed two shots at goal that would have won the game - but the South African-born scrum-half was woefully off-target with both as England crept home.

Man of the match: A committed display by a number of Italians ultimately went unrewarded, with skipper Sergio Parisse once again leading from the front. However, a nerveless and flawless display of kicking from Owen Farrell amid freezing conditions in Rome helped the visitors claim their come-from-behind win.

Moment of the match: The dramatic double strike from Giovanbattista Venditti and Tommaso Benvenuti had given the Azzurri a clear lead at the half-time interval before England managed to turn the tables through that second-half try from Charlie Hodgson that sparked England into life.

Villain of the match: The weather! In freezing conditions, scores were always going to be hard to come by and it was no surprise that both sides struggled to create much.

The scorers:

For Italy:
Tries: Venditti, Benvenuti
Con: Burton
Pen: Burton

For England:
Try: Hodgson
Con: Farrell
Pens: Farrell 4

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Gonzalo Canale, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kristopher Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Marco Bortolami, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Antonio Pavanello, 19 Mauro Bergamasco, 20 Fabio Semenzato, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Luca Morisi.

England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 David Strettle, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Phil Dowson, 7 Chris Robshaw (c) 6 Tom Croft, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Alex Corbisiero.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Matt Stevens, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Ben Morgan, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Jordan Turner-Hall, 22 Mike Brown.

Referee: Jérôme Garces (France)

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