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England Walk Italy Fixture
Posted Feb 18, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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Whatever England fans were
expecting when they wondered into Twickenham on Saturday, it’s likely that this
result was not it. Sure, they will
have been expecting a win against a generally poor Italian side. This wasn’t just a win, though: this
was complete and utter dominance of a sort that English fans have rarely been lucky enough to witness
in the last few years. What is
even more pleasing is that the win wasn’t just down to skill, but also down to
the fact that England looked like they were putting everything into the game.
Italy had already lost this match after half an hour, with Mark Cueto flying over the line to give England their third try of the match. Even a world-class side would struggle to deal with such a start, and with all credit to Italy, world class they are not. England were simply superb from the get-go, with every player on the pitch contributing to the victory. Debutant Alex Corbisiero was superb, and James Haskell offered up probably his best international performance so far.
Toby Flood was without doubt the standout, however, offering up a superb performance that renews his status as being England's Mr Reliable. It seemed like every try England made followed some form of intelligent, sharp passing from the man in the middle to those offering support up the flanks. Chris Ashton ended up benefitting the most with four tries during the match. Whether Martin Johnson will do anything about the continued show-boating by the finisher is going to remain up for debate.
With France around the corner, it is prudent for England to look at any issues alongside their otherwise excellent performance. The fact that they enabled Italy to gain a try from line-out is a concern given that the Italians had barely even seemed awake during other line-outs in the game. Also, there was a brief period after half time when England took a bit too long to wake up.
However given the overall domination of the performance here, you could consider noting these points as being something approaching nit-picking. The difference between this England and the England of last year’s six nations is almost remarkable. Brimming with confidence, team-work and skill, they now look more than capable of defeating the French. All eyes will be on Twickenham at five o clock on Saturday.