Planet Rugby

England toil to defeat Italy

10th March 2013 16:52

Share:

Andrea Masi Alex Goode England v Italy

Restrained: Alex Goode

England were left frustrated by a resurgent Italian performance as the hosts kept their Grand Slam hopes alive with an 18-11 win.

Six penalties from Toby Flood kept England ahead on the scoreboard as Italy recovered from a 15-3 deficit at the start of the second half to leave Twickenham on edge in a dramatic finish.

The Azzurri resembled the side that were so impressive in their opening game of the championship against France - hounding England in defence and creating ample attacking opportunities in the second half against an opponent who they have never defeated.

Only desperate defence from England going into the final 10 minutes kept the hosts clinging on to the lead, with all thoughts of a first Grand Slam in a decade put firmly on hold.

England signalled their intent early on with a penalty from Toby Flood after just three minutes - the Leicester fly-half coming in for the injured Owen Farrell.

Mike Brown came close to the opening try after Luciano Orquera's kick was charged down, but the ball eluded him as he tried to make the grounding.

The hosts enjoyed all the possession throughout the opening minutes but were unable to find the opening try, Flood settling for another three points to leave England 6-0 up after 15 minutes.

Italy responded on their first visit to England's half with a penalty from Orquera after an effective driving maul, lifting the voices of the visiting fans. The Azzurri supporters grew even louder minutes later when Alessandro Zanni burst down the left touchline after Sergio Parisse's inside flick - only for the ball to be knocked on.

England's large swathes of possession created another try-scoring opportunity for the hosts, but Flood's attempted score was ruled out. Italy then lost scrum-half Edoardo Gori to the sin-bin for taking out Flood off the ball.

The hosts' power at the scrum was again capitalised on by Flood, who added a further three more points after a fine break from Brown to leave England 12-3 up going into the interval after a frustrating half for the home fans.

Another Flood penalty at the start of the second half extended the gap and left Italy chasing the scoreboard, Orquera responding with a penalty of his own after England collapsed at the scrum.

Care's sloppy box kick was then taken out of the air by Andrea Masi and Orquera's delicate chip across to the left wing was snapped up by Luke McLean to score in the corner.

Giovambattista Venditti then carried down the right touchline to leave English tacklers on the deck, but Orquera's resultant penalty attempt fell well wide to the right - failing to make the most of a passage of play where England lost control.

The introduction of Ben Youngs steadied Flood and England crept back to a seven-point advantage thanks to another penalty from the Leicester number 10.

Italy however continued to produce some of their best rugby in this year's championship, finding space down the left-hand side through McLean.

It meant that England were clinging on desperately to their lead as time ticked away, until a knock-on five metres from their own try line led to a collective sigh of relief from the 82,000 crowd.

Twickenham expected a thrashing - the humbled crowd left booing and counting their blessings.

Man of the Match: A whole host of Italian candidates to choose from in defeat, with Alessandro Zanni getting the nod ahead of his captain Parisse, Masi and winger McLean.

Moment of the Match: Courtney Lawes' crucial line-out steal with two minutes remaining that helped England ease the Italian pressure.

Villain of the Match: Starting his first Test for some time, Toby Flood may have kicked well off the tee but struggled to get England's backs firing.

The scorers:

For England:
Pens: Flood 6

For Italy:
Try: McLean
Pens: Orquera 2
Yellow Card: Gori

The teams:

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Danny Care, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 James Haskell, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 David Wilson, 18 Joe Marler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovambattista Venditti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (c) 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Simone Favaro, 22 Tobias Botes, 23Tommaso Benvenuti.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Mathieu Raynal (France)
Television match official: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

By Ben Coles
@bencoles_

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Preview
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs UlsterMunster vs Ulster Preview
Cardiff Blues vs TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Preview
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821