England Look to Put Italy to the Sword in Round 3 of the Six Nations
Last updated: February 24, 2017 by Leon Marshal
|Kick-off:||Sunday, 15:00 (GMT)|
|Last season:||Italy 9 – 40 England|
|Competition:||RBS Six Nations|
With the squads back on international duty and raring to go after a one-week pause, Italy travel to Twickenham in search of their first victory over England in any competition. Round two of the tournament proved to be a bruising experience for both sides; England more so due to the ferocious nature of their clash against Wales at the Principality Stadium, and Italy because of the way in which they were so clearly outplayed for the entirety of their encounter with Ireland almost two weeks ago in Rome. Eddie Jones, with one eye keenly looking towards the next world cup in Japan, will be out to make sure his side maintain their momentum, whilst the Italians must continue to fight and justify their place in European rugby’s premier international tournament.
At the 65-minute mark in the riveting match against the Welsh in second round there would have been many fans, both English and Welsh, that thought Wales had done enough to resign England to their first defeat in well over 12 months. But Jones’s side now have an undeniable killer instinct. They showed great resillience in defence but were again far from their best for large parts of the game. But when it came to the crunch, England showed great composure and took their chance when it came along in the 75th minute and went on to secure their 16th consecutive victory. With their tails now well and truly up in the tournament after having come through two testing encounters victorious – but not unscathed – we suspect Jones will experiment with a few different combinations and look to give some of his regular replacements the opportunity to start. With another week-long break between this round and the next, England will be keen to lay down a marker and continue their run as the only undefeated side in the tournament.
With all due respect to Connor O’Shea’s side, it would take something not too far short of a miracle for Italy upset England at Twickenham on Sunday afternoon. Aside from the fact that they have failed to register a victory against England in all the 23 fixtures between the two sides, their first two opening games have shown that the Italians – even under the new direction of Connor O’Shea – have neither the skill, nor the composure required to derail the English locomotive. At times they’ve looked threatening and shown fleeting signs of improvement under their new coach, but a severe lack of discipline and poor decision-making at key moments continues to let them down. Four changes have been made to the squad that faced Ireland in Rome: Carlo Canna is resigned to the bench in place of Tommaso Allan; Exeter Chiefs centre Michele Campagnaro comes in to add some firepower to the midfield; Abraham Steyn replaces Maxinme Mdanda in the back row; and centre, Giulio Bisegni, comes onto the right wing. O’Shea will be hoping that these reshuffles will add some much-needed continuity to the side; if they are to win, however, they will need to produce a truly monumental performance which, in all honesty, seems to be beyond them at this point in time.
Mako Vunipola has recovered from a knee ligament injury and has been named on the bench as part of Jones’s match day 23. He made his return last week for Saracens against Gloucester where he was as industrious as ever for the 70 minutes he was on the field.
Danny Care has been given the nod to start against the Italians. The dynamic Harlequins half back always makes an impact from the bench and will be aiming to keep England playing at a fast pace right from the first minute.
Italy have made four changes to the side that suffered their 63-10 home defeat against Ireland. Carlo Canna is resigned to the bench in place of Tommaso Allan, Exeter Chiefs centre Michele Campagnaro comes into the midfield, Abraham Steyn replaces Maxinme Mdanda in the back row and Giulio Bisegni comes onto the right wing.
Connor O’Shea has spoken of his side’s need to put their heavy Ireland defeat against behind them and concentrate on this Sunday’s fixture. “We must be ready…ahead of the England match. Focus must be our next job and our next job is England at Twickenham,” he told RBS Six Nations reporters.
|England:||Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, Hughes, Care, Ford, Daly, Farrell, Te’o, May, Brown|
|Subs:||George, M. Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Clifford, Youngs, Slade, Nowell|
|Injured:||Robshaw, B. Vunipola, Kruis|
|Italy:||Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Fuser, Fuser, Van Schalkwyk, Steyn, Favaro, Parisse|
|Subs:||Gea, Rizzo, Ceccarelli, Biagi, Mbandà, Bronzini, Canna|
|England 2016 – Present||Italy 2016 – Present|
|2nd||IRB World Ranking||14th|
|8 (7)||(at home) Wins (2016 – Present) (away)||1 (2)|
|58-15 vs. Fiji||Biggest win (2016 – Present)||24-20 vs. USA|
|0 (0)||(at home) Losses (2016 – present) (away)||3 (7)|
|–||Biggest Defeat (2016 – present)||10-68 vs. New Zealand||35||Tries Scored (2016 – present)||15|
|25||Tries Against (2016 – present)||55|
|1||2016 Finishing Place||6|
|31||Six Nations Titles||0|
- England’s dramatic late win against Wales in round two has seen them extend their winning streak to 16 games. If they are succesful this weekend against Italy they will go to 17 games, just one behind the record set by the All Black’s record of 18.
- Italy have missed more tackles than any other side in the tournament. With 61 missed tackles in just two games, Connor O’Shea must make sure his players worker harder in this area if they are to give themself a chance of victory against England.
- Despite remaining the only side not to lose a game at this early stage of the tournament, England have conceded more turnovers than any other side. With 27 turnovers in just two games, Eddie Jones will be demmanding more accuracy the breakdown this weekend.
- Italy played their first fixture against their hosts for this weekend, England, back in 1991 at the Twickenham Stadium. In all the 26 years history between the two nations, Italy have failed to register a single victory in any competition.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Try-scorer|
|14/02/2016||Six Nations||Italy 9 – 40 England||Ford 24′|
|14/02/2015||Six Nations||England 47 – 16 Italy||S Parisse 3′|
|15/03/2014||Six Nations||Italy 11 – 52 England||M.Brown 12′|
|16/03/2013||Six Nations||England 18 – 11 Italy||McClean 48′|
|11/02/2012||Six Nations||Italy 15 – 19 Scotland||G Venditti 38′|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
The bookmakers have quite rightly pipped England as the overwhelming favourites for this Sunday’s fixture. On paper England are far superior; they have a perfect record against their opponents both home and away, and the way in which they’ve managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the opening two games proves that they are one of the toughest of nuts to crack. There’s not much value in opting for an England victory here, and an Italian victory is one of the longest of long shots. Try going for an England to win by with 31-35 or 31-40 points margin – bet365 are currently offering a good odds prices.