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England boss on new era post Farrell

REACTION: Head coach Steve Borthwick praised the impact England’s debutants made in their tight 27-24 Six Nations win over Italy which ended a long-standing opening day hoodoo.

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England squeezed past Italy in a tight clash in Rome, in which five players made their international debuts for the visitors.

Flank Ethan Roots was one of the two new starters alongside centre Fraser Dingwall and Borthwick was delighted with the way the Exeter back row handled his first Test match.

“You don’t want to single any individuals out because it was a special day for all five of them and as a coach, it felt like a special day to be involved in it with them,” Borthwick told reporters after the match.

“But Ethan Roots if you look at him in particular, to make his debut and look very much at home.

“He played 80 minutes and just looked at home.

“He was outstanding,” the former England captain added.

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Defensive frailties

England fans were expecting them to impressively build on their bronze medal finish at the recent World Cup.

However, they endured a poor start, trailing 0-10 and 8-17 during the first half.

It was only when Alex Mitchell struck for a try five minutes into the second half that England finally managed to hit the front.

They failed to secure a four-try bonus point win, and instead allowed Italy to strike for their third try for a losing bonus point.

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Despite the scrappy performance, the win was a first for England at the start of the Six Nations since 2019 and Borthwick was more than happy with the result.

However, the coach admitted they need to improve, especially in defence.

“Very pleased with the result and very pleased with the players, they found a way to change the game at the mid-point of the game and found a way to get a result,” Borthwick said.

“There were areas that we improved upon from where we have been and were trying to work on in the preparation period that we had.

“Having said that, there were plenty of areas we need to be better at. We gave Italy scores too easily and we need to improve our defence.

“In that first half, while we had lots of possession in the attacking half and the speed of our ball was much quicker and the ball movement was improved, we didn’t break the line as much as we wanted to.”

Borthwick is hoping prop Ellis Genge can return to action for England’s next match with Wales after he had to drop out with a foot injury hours before kick-off.

“I’ll be really hopeful that Ellis will be available next weekend,” said Borthwick who added that scans on Friday showed that Genge had experienced a flare up of a problem which had troubled him in the past.

Sources: Rugbypass & AFP

 

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