England recovers without convincing

England of Jack Willis (right) signed a first victory in the 2023 Six Nations Tournament, beating Italy, Sunday February 12, 2023.

It will probably take more to convince the public of Twickenham that Steve Borthwick is the person able to save the English ship. But the former second line – promoted to coach of XV de la Rose in December 2022 – can already be satisfied with a first victory at the head of England. His team won against Italy (31-14) on Sunday February 12, partially erasing the defeat suffered at home last weekend against Scotland.

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Far from deploying the intensity of the Irish against the Blues the day before, or the precision of the Scots against Wales, the English relied on a much more restrictive game to win, offensive bonus at stake. A result that has become a habit against the Transalpins: since the arrival of Italy in the Six Nations Tournament in 2000, England have always imposed themselves during their confrontations in this competition.

To extend this series, the English have relied heavily on their forwards. They are also the ones who were decisive in four of the five English tries, starting with that of Toulouse’s Jack Willis from the 13the minute. First Top 14 player to be selected with England since 2012, the third line came out at the right time from a carried ball to go flatten in the in-goal. A few minutes later, he was imitated in force by the second row Ollie Chessum (28e), then by hooker George Ford (37e), there too after a carried ball.

Owen Farrell not inspired

Even if they were well ahead in the score, the English were not reassuring, like their opener Owen Farrell, inspired neither in the game nor against the poles (two failed transformations out of five) this Sunday.

They could even consider themselves lucky to come across Italians who were much less fit than last week against France, despite some good rides with the ball in hand from Ange Capuozzo, and two tries with a time leading to believe in a possible reaction ( Marco Riccioni at the 44e minute, and Alessandro Fusco at the 63e).

But far too undisciplined (fourteen penalties conceded, and two yellow cards), the Italians finally cracked at the end of the match on a last try from winger Henry Arundell (70e). After two defeats in as many games, they find themselves penultimate in the standings before hosting the formidable Irish team on Saturday 25 February in Rome. The English will try the same day to confirm their start against Wales, in Cardiff.

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