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Italy deny England a bonus-point win

REPORT: England were forced to come from behind to secure a hard-fought 27-24 win over Italy in the Six Nations Round One match in Rome on Saturday.

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Italy outscored England three tries to two. However, the steady boot of George Ford, who kicked five penalties and a conversion, proved to be the difference.

The match was the introduction of new eras for both teams.

For Italy, it was the first Test match under new coach Gonzalo Quesada, who had the big task of rebuilding the team after a horrendous World Cup show.

A task made more challenging with the absence of star Ange Capuozzo, who was named in the starting XV but had to be replaced due to an injury.

Meanwhile, England started their journey without regular skipper Owen Farrell after he stepped away from Test rugby for the foreseeable future to focus on himself and his family’s wellbeing.

Steve Borthwick also had to rejig his squad following Ellis Genge’s foot injury just a few hours before the kick-off.

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The changes were very unsettling for England as they struggled in the opening minutes.

In contrast, the Italians started in fine fashion, taking a 10-0 lead after just 12 minutes.

Tommaso Allan kicked a penalty before Lorenzo Cannone broke the line and offloaded to Alessandro Garbisi who dotted down under the posts for his first Six Nations try.

Allan added the extras for the lead.

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That try seemed to spark England into life as they finally got on the board with a Ford penalty.

They then scored their first try when Tommy Freeman’s pass found Elliot Daly who went over outwide.

However, Italy hit back with their second try. Tommaso Menoncello made a break before a couple of sleek hands saw Allan dotted down in the middle and convert his own try for the 17-8 lead.

England started to rally again. They got inside the Italians’ 22 but great defence saw them opt for a penalty kick which Ford perfectly slotted.

Ford’s boot continued to keep England in touch, with the flyhalf knocking another one over to ensure England went in at the break with just a three-point deficit.

England built on their momentum in the second half and within four minutes took the lead for the first time in the match.

Scrumhalf Alex Mitchell spotted the space in the Italian line from the back of a ruck before diving over.

Ford added the conversion for the 21-17 lead.

With a narrow lead, England took control of proceedings, and the 30-year-old Sale Sharks man added two additional penalties for the 27-17 lead before leaving the field for Finn Smith.

With just minutes on the clock, England and Italy went down to 14 men as Daly and captain Michele Lamaro were both yellow-carded.

Nonetheless, the hosts had the last say. With the clock deep in the red, Monty Ioane showed his pace and dot down to claim a losing bonus point with the aid of Paolo Garbisi’s conversion.

Man of the match: Ethan Roots of England was impressive, making big hits and just relentless at the breakdown.  Maro Itoje also deserves a mention. While for Italy Tommaso Allan was lethal from the back and he read the game well. However, our nod goes to Tommaso Menoncello for his amazing run and strong carries along with his solid defence.

The scorers:

For Italy:
Tries: A. Garbisi, Allan, Ioane
Cons: Allan 2, P. Garbisi
Pen: Allan

For England:
Tries: Daly, Mitchell
Con: Ford
Pens: Ford 5

Yellow cards: Elliot Daly (England, 75 – deliberate foul play, tripping); Michele Lamaro (Italy, 80 – collapsing the maul)

Teams: 

Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Lorenzo Pani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Alessandro Garbisi, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Edoardo Iachizzi, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Stephen Varney, 23 Federico Mori.

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ethan Roots, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Jamie George (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Danny Care, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

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