Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

England claim scrappy win

Toby Flood booted all of England's points as they beat Italy
Toby Flood booted all of England's points as they beat Italy

Toby Flood kicked England to an unconvincing 18-11 win over Italy at Twickenham which sends Stuart Lancaster's side to Cardiff next week in search of the Grand Slam.

Wales stand in the way of England's first haul of five wins from five RBS 6 Nations matches since the World Cup-winning year of 2003, but there is work to do after Flood's six penalties earned victory in a disjointed display.

Luke McLean scored the game's only try, collecting a crossfield kick from Luciano Orquera, who kicked two penalties.

Mako Vunipola got underneath Martin Castrogiovanni at the first scrum and a huge England drive allowed Flood to kick his side into a second minute lead.

Flood extended England's lead with a second penalty after Italy had been penalised once again at the breakdown but the Azzurri succeeded in digging their heels in and slowing the tempo.

Sergio Parisse, inevitably, was at the heart of the Italian resistance, which began with a successful penalty from Orquera after England had pulled down a driving maul.

England's scrum was superior and the pack drew another penalty, which Flood converted, but out wide they lacked accuracy, with Alex Goode butchering another chance with a pass over Manu Tuilagi's head. Inaccurate.

Flood kicked penalties either side of half-time to edge England into a 15-3 lead but they continued to make mistakes. Italy fed off them and grew in confidence.

The Azzurri scrum was revitalised after the interval and they earned a penalty, which Orquera kicked, before scoring the first try of the match through McLean. Alessandro Zanni rose to claim Danny Care's sliced kick before feeding Orquera, who picked out McLean on the left wing with an inch-perfect cross kick. The Azzurri had come storming back with eight points in a minute.

Flood continued his faultless performance with the boot and England's defence held firm in the face of some fevered Italian attack to keep their title and Grand Slam ambitions alive.

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