Six Nations: England vs Italy
February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
In their Six Nations clash this weekend England won 19-15 against Italy. But boy, it wasn’t easy.
Set Piece Domination:
The game itself almost didn’t get get under way with snow blanketing the ground before kick-off.
For much of the first half the game was one for ‘the purists’ with set-piece play and tactical kicking dominating.
Coming from the Southern Hemisphere where running with the ball and try-scoring prevails I got bored with the teams kicking away their possession more often than not.
As the BBC commentator pointed out, it was “not pretty to watch.”
The First Points:
Half-way through the first 40 minutes England got their first scoring opportunity when they were awarded a penalty when one of their players was tripped up.
In just his second test, No.12 Owen Farrell, cooly slotted his kick over the goal posts to put England 3-0.
A second penalty on their scrum brought England to 6-0 and it seemed as though Italy would once again be outclassed.
Change of Fortunes:
However, with just three minutes left in the first half the Azzuri’s fortunes changed when winger Giovanbattista Vendetti scored in the corner after a pick-up. No.10 Kristopher Burton pulled the conversion wide, putting them just one point behind.
Right on half-time the Italian centre, Tommaso Benvenuti, intercepted a failed England pass, to score and take the lead 12-6.
Back and Forth:
Early on in the second half England came out firing, stringing phases together in the Italian half.
However, it was Italy who drew first blood, after their No.8, was nudged by an English player, resulting in a penalty, taking them to 15-6.
The tides turned once again on the 50 minute mark with English 1st five (No.10), Charlie Hodgson, scoring a try from a turnover, taking the scores to 15-13 and putting England within two.
Turning the match around:
When Farrell scored another easy penalty from out in front of the posts, taking England to a 16-15 lead, England finally started to “turn this match around” (BBC commentator Jeremy Guscott).
England, with over 70% possession and territory, started putting real pressure on the Azzuri.
With another penalty at scrum-time, Farrell once again showed his class by kicking another three bringing the English to a 19-15 lead, causing the English fans to sing ‘Swing Low Sweet Charity.’
And that’s how the score would remain until the final whistle. In spite of Italian captain Sergio Parisse being named ‘man of the match’ and a gusty effort, once again the Azzuri came up short.
Like their win against Scotland in the first round, England showed that even though they have an inexperienced team, with a new coach, they are capable of winning.