England brush aside Italy
March 15, 2014
Mike Brown enjoys scoring England's first try
© Getty Images
England eased past Italy 52-11 but they did not do enough to cancel out Ireland's superior points difference at the top of the Six Nations table.
The deluge of tries at the Stadio Olimpico was insufficient to overhaul the Irish, who seized the title with a nerve-jangling 22-20 win over France in Paris. England finish runners-up up for the third successive year and are still searching for a first title under head coach Stuart Lancaster, despite their best efforts against Italy.
Mike Brown's sensational Championship continued with his brace of tries decorating a fine individual contribution, while Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Robshaw also crossed in the 52-11 victory.
Tuilagi made his first England appearance in a year after completing his comeback from chest surgery, replacing Luther Burrell at outside centre with half an hour to go, and made inroads into a tiring Italy defence. Once more Farrell's goal kicking was outstanding with the British and Irish Lion converting all seven tries and also slotting a penalty, but he was lucky to escape a late yellow card after tackling Edoardo Gori around the throat and wrestling him to the ground.
All week England had stated that winning was their only ambition for the climax to their Six Nations in Rome, but the attacking intent evident from the kick off told a different story. At times they played with too much haste and the resulting lack of accuracy disrupted their momentum, preventing them from posting the necessary winning margin to trouble Ireland on points difference.
A cagey opening saw Italy dominate possession and draw first blood with a long-range penalty from Luciano Orquera that was greeted with a mighty roar from the sell-out 80,000 crowd. Farrell levelled the score with a penalty and the Red Rose went on the offensive, rapidly spinning the ball left and right as they probed for weaknesses.
A brilliant offload from Luther Burrell pierced Italy's defence with the Northampton centre's pass out of a tackle by Gonzalo Garcia finding Brown who switched on the afterburners and raced over. Loosehead Mako Vunipola was penalised at a scrum and Orquera obliged with the three points to keep Italy in touch.
Brown was involved in just about every England move and when Burrell powered into space and fed Danny Care they looked on for a second try, but Italy's cover defence was solid. Burrell and Care were prominent as England attacked again and this time they were able to cross the whitewash, their scrum-half darting across field and sending Farrell in under the posts.
The floodgates were already opening and this time Farrell was the provider as he rode a tackle and expertly slipped a pass to Brown who galloped over. Campagnaro took advantage of Burrell being caught out of position to break free amid a promising start to the second half from Italy, but England were soon back on the offensive.
The tempo was lifted but passes were failing to stick, number eight Ben Morgan knocking on at full tilt and Vunipola spilling forward. Burrell went within a whisker of scoring but the ball was kicked from his grasp by an unconventional late tackle made out of hope rather than expectation.
Italy's problems mounted when Marco Bortolami was sin-binned for off-side and soon after their whitewash was breached for a fourth time, Nowell rounding off a backs move at a scrum. Adding to their woes was the 53rd minute arrival of Tuilagi from the bench, although the decision to bring him on at the expensive of the superb Burrell was odd.
Italy's defence was falling to pieces and they effectively waved England through for their next two tries with Vunipola and Tuilagi strolling over. It was then the visitors' turn to blunder, however, with wing Leonardo Sarto picking off an intercept try from Joe Launchbury's pass.
The flow of tries had dried up, but there was still time for one more with captain Chris Robshaw taking Farrell's injury-time pass and coasting over.
Luther Burrell looks for the offload © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Communication error please reload the page.
Kurt Zouma was labelled "our new Marcel Desailly" by Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after the Capital One Cup final win but is playing down comparisons with the World Cup winner
Sebastian Vettel has called the FIA's plans to stop drivers changing their helmet designs "a joke"
QPR have reported a loss of £9.8million for the year ending May 2014
Michael Schumacher's son Mick is set to make the step of from karting to Formula 4 this year
Liverpool winger Jordon Ibe is set to miss the next four weeks with knee ligament damage, sources have told ESPN
John Terry was visibly emotional during the national anthem in Sunday's League Cup final, but don't get your hopes up - he's not coming back to the England team
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
With West Ham v Chelsea becoming an increasingly bad-tempered clash, will Sam Allardyce capitalise on the tension to keep a clean sheet and win to nil?
The idea of Chelsea squeezing in a quick 20-minute Wembley celebration before getting back to work is both admirable and typically soulless, writes Alan Tyers
He's always looked down on the competition, but the 6 feet 7 inch Stoke striker has now officially taken his place at the pinnacle of English football. Well, for heading at least
Tyson Fury moved closer to a shot at Wladimir Klitschko's WBO title with Christian Hammer's corner throwing in the towel after the eighth round at the O2 Arena
Sir Bobby Charlton thinks Louis van Gaal was "surprised by the enormity" of Manchester United when he took over as manager last summer
Chris Eubank Jr has called for a rematch with Billy Joe Saunders after stopping Dmitry Chudinov to claim the WBA 'interim' middleweight title at the O2 Arena in London
Brendan Rodgers hailed Philippe Coutinho as "a joy to watch" after the midfielder scored a spectacular winner against Manchester City and claimed it is "frightening" to think what the Brazilian could be worth
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Daniel Sturridge's fitness must be managed properly so that the striker "doesn't break"
Former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher marked his return to football punditry by coining a new name for Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers
We rewind to 2003 when Real Madrid brought a park attitude to their Champions League clash with Manchester United and played out a 4-3 thriller
The tale of the Jamaica bobsled team who triumphed against the odds at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics is embedded in pop culture more than 25 years on, writes Nick Atkin
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner
In the latest edition of ESPN's Week in Words, Olivier Giroud gets emotional, Dimitar Berbatov is a bit smug, Arsene Wenger is hurting and Rory McIlroy is "p***** off"