Planet Rugby

England score 50 in Rome rout

15th March 2014 14:16

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Mike Brown England Stadio Olimpico Rome Six Nations Rugby union

Double: Mike Brown

England cantered to a simple 52-11 win over Italy in the Rome sunshine, but fell short of matching Ireland's points difference.

Seven tries, including a double for Mike Brown, saw England finish this year's championship with four wins from five matches and a points difference of plus 73, but eight short of Ireland with Joe Schmidt's side to play in Paris later on Saturday.

The sense in the build-up had always been that Italy wouldn't be able to live with England's tempo, which had undone the best efforts of Ireland and Wales at Twickenham in recent weeks.

Their standout backs - Danny Care, Owen Farrell, Luther Burrell and Mike Brown - were all instrumental as ever, with Brown setting the try-scoring benchmark for Yoann Huget to match later on after scoring his third and fourth tries of the 2014 Six Nations.

Whatever happens in Paris, England have improved considerably in all facets of their play in this championship and deepened their squad in the process. Silverware or not, this has been a successful seven weeks for Stuart Lancaster and his team. It was their biggest win in Rome since 2004.

Early dominance for Italy's scrum came as no surprise, a shot of concern running through the England fans at the sight of David Wilson down receiving treatment within the first five minutes.

Orquera opened the hosts' account after England's front row stood up for the second time.

With Rome basked in perfect sunshine there were no excuses for the number of knock-ons in the first ten minutes. Too often England looked for the finished product out wide rather than building the phases, but Farrell did add his first three points eventually to level the scores.

Patient would always end in points and Mike Brown (who else) benefited from a fine break and offload from Luther Burrell, fending off the tackle of Luke McLean and having enough speed to finish in the corner.

Leonardo Sarto couldn't match Burrell's speed of thought when presented with a simple three-on-one though, England scampering back in defence following Nowell's knock-on with Farrell providing the key tackle. It was a wasted chance by the Azzurri.

Their scrum though remained a source of points. Orquera kicked a second penalty after 20 minutes, cutting the gap to four.

England's ambition to play wide was encouraging but they lacked the direction, a quality that Burrell with his lines and power possesses in abundance. A burst into the Italian 22 should have ended with more points.

The touchline was certainly Italy's friend, the space out wide too tempting for England to resist when an overlap was squandered through a miss-pass to Dylan Hartley with advantage being played. It ended eventually in a second try, England biding their time under the Italian posts and pouncing through Farrell latching onto Care's flat pass.

A third try before half-time would give England a real tilt at their points difference target. From Care's tapped penalty they surged up to ten metres out, only for crossing to undo their good work initially.

They didn't have to wait long. Shifting the Italian defence around until the holes on the inside grew too vast to ignore, Farrell offloaded to the on-rushing Brown for his second try of the first half and fourth of the tournament to send England into the break up 24-6.

Michele Campagnaro had sparkled for Italy against Wales and threatened to do the same with a burst after the interval, but a lost boot and forward pass brought his effort to an end.

Even the Italian scrum was fading, the stronghold turned against the head by England in the Azzurri 22, but a tapped penalty was mis-executed when it mattered in a messy opening ten minutes to the second period from both sides.

Care's enthusiasm was relentless, Burrell just missing out on a try when the ball was kicked from his hand as the centre stretched for the line. Marco Bortolami headed to the bin to worsen Italy's growing problems.

A first England try for Jack Nowell left the English players beaming, the 20-year-old from Exeter Chiefs benefiting from first-phase ball at the scrum as Care and Brown drew in the defence to send him over in the corner.

Manu Tuilagi entered the fray for Burrell in his first appearance for England since against Wales in Cardiff as the game loosened up, the annoyance on Burrell's face a positive for England rather than a negative.

It took three tacklers to bring Tuilagi down in England's latest foray into Italian territory as Mako Vunipola scored England's fifth try - delivered on a platter by Billy Twelvetrees as the Lions prop trundled over from two metres out.

Three converted tries away from Ireland's total with 20 minutes to go, England certainly had hope. Tuilagi ran flat onto a Farrell pass and broke the last tackle to add England's sixth. 45-6 with 12 minutes left.

That was dented by an interception try from Sarto, his second five-pointer of this year, as Joe Launchbury forced a wide pass in possibly his only error of the championship to date.

George Ford came on for his second cap as England restored their former U20 midfield partnership with Farrell shifting to inside centre, but the points difference task appeared beyond England now.

A combination of substitutes and indiscipline hindered England's challenge until a long run from Dave Attwood appeared to put England in position for a seventh try. The frenetic tempo got the better of Farrell, holding Edoardo Gori around the neck and slamming him to the ground in frustration.

There was enough time for one more try, fittingly from their captain Chris Robshaw, but this was an impressive ending to a fine championship from England, as their attention turned to Paris hoping for a favour from France.

Man of the Match: The player of the tournament without question, Mike Brown shone and scored two tries.

Moment of the Match: Oddly enough it was the interception from Leonardo Sarto, which just stopped the English momentum and put the points difference target out of sight.

Villain of the Match: Nothing overly nasty to report.

The scorers:

For Italy:
Try: Sarto
Pens: Orquera 2
Yellow Card: Bortolami

For England:
Tries: Brown 2, Farrell, Nowell, Vunipola, Tuilagi, Robshaw
Cons: Farrell 7
Pen: Farrell

Italy: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Joshua Furno, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Alberto de Marchi, 19 George Fabio Biagi, 20 Paul Derbyshire, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Allan. 23 Andrea Masi.

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 David Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Manu Tuilagi

Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

by Ben Coles
@bencoles_

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