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Saturday, March 15, 2014

England notch up 50 in Rome but Championship fate out of their hands

England set out to score 50+ points against Italy in the hope of surpassing Ireland's superior points difference to give themselves a solid chance of winning the Six Nations, but they only beat Italy 52-11, so have to rely on a French win to hand them the title.

Seven tries in Rome impressed coach Stuart Lancaster, who said he was proud of his team for going there and doing something not many other sides have ever done.

"We scored some great tries and we've come here and scored 50, and not many teams have done that," said England coach Stuart Lancaster. "There were some errors in the first half, but I'm just proud of the boys. It's a great squad we've got developing and the bigger picture is important."

Mike Brown scored twice, while Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Robshaw all crossed for tries, with Italy's Leonardo Sarto snatching an intercept try for the hosts.

A string of substitutions late in the game appeared to affect England's rhythm as they struggled to really kick on and pile on the points as planned. A late Robshaw try brought up the fifty though, rubbing salt in the Italian wounds.

Italy coach Jaques Brunel has a lot of work to do ahead of the June internationals after Italy took the Wooden Spoon, having lost all five of their Championship matches. They play Fiji, Japan and Samoa in what will be a tricky summer series of matches for them.

"We started this tournament well and we finished negatively," said Brunel. "We're behind in terms of what our goals were."

UPDATE: Official extended highlights (7 mins long) are now included below

Posted at 5:35 pm | 41 comments

Posted in Six Nations 2014

Viewing 41 comments

hellraiser_rob March 15, 2014 8:08 pm

Good win for England, considering the last few years Italy have been much more competitive. I know a lot has been made about the substitutions that Lancaster made, I gather 36 was taken off because he hadn't trained all week and was probably tiring, but I can't get my head around Danny Care coming off. Ah well shouldn't moan :)

I thought May again had a bit of an average game, i'm sure others here will have stronger opinions on that, haha

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DrG March 16, 2014 1:24 am

May having an average game could be classed as a compliment, I thought he was pants. Looked like Lancaster needed someone to wear that shirt and just threw it to the nearest guy who happened to be May...

Running across the pitch looking for space is what players did in the early years at school - Even then at least they eventually found a hole. May runs across and still gets squashed!

As Lucius said poor Italy, their 'fortress' was well and truly flooded. Thought they did very well to keep their heads screwed on and not to resort to fisty cuffs or tantrums though, which has to be a huge positive.

Farrell, matured or not? From one angle it really looked and sounded like a swinging arm around the scrum halfs neck, the other angle not so much. Really though, what the hell is he doing getting involved in that anyway? He is a play maker, shouldn't he be ready to lead the next England attack? Not getting involved in some BS tug of war with an Italian of half the size!!!

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benji March 16, 2014 9:14 pm

well don't kill him, might be a little harsh, just drop him from the the squad

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Phil mc avity March 16, 2014 10:52 pm

Killing him would be a wee bit harsh maybe... XD

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Phil mc avity March 16, 2014 10:51 pm

benji = Cian Healy?

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Pipo March 17, 2014 3:27 am

Farrell is a great fly half, he kicks really good, like evidenced in the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia or this years six nations. He distributes well enough, lacks a bit of running game (although he still scored tries this year) and is a very solid defender.

Actually, when I first saw him play I kinda saw a young Sir Johnny in the making and was obviously very excited about such a prospect.

But sadly, more and more I get the impression this guy is just a petulant idiot who enjoys getting in senseless scuffles (like Mike Philips every now and then). It's not only the martial arts throw he did on the Italian player, WHILE FIRMLY HOLDING HIS ARM OVER HIS NECK BTW (yellow card anyone?), he has gotten himself into various arrogant (or just plain stupid) scuffles that I can remember.

I can only hope it's the fact that he is young and hopefully he will realize that rugby is about playing rugby, not trying to get into plain embarassing situations by being unnecesarily violent or just an a-hole.

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DanKnapp March 17, 2014 10:06 am

I agree. He is maturing in most respects but can still be a little 'feisty' at times. He needs to learn where to draw the line. I wouldn't have been upset with the referee if he'd decided to bin Farrell for that. He didn't need to do it. There are times when a bit of spark is necessary. That was one of those times.

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Canadian content March 17, 2014 10:18 pm

Jonny never carried on this way, never did BOD at this age, hell north doesn't and he's younger. Farrell is just a bit of a punk. Should have been carded for that and the challenge on Murray. I think he gets away with them because he's a ten. A lock would be binned every time.

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DrG March 18, 2014 10:22 pm

As I lock I can only every agree with that comment!

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DrG March 16, 2014 1:30 am

Thought the interviews at the end to Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown were a little blunt and perhaps unnecessary. The same questions were posed to Stuart Lancaster, who I have to say comes across as one of the most down to earth coach around. The guy seems honest and really speaks it how it is without any bulls**t. After the Ireland game I think it was, he was asked whether he was relieved at the victory, he laughed and said 'yes!' - So many others in his position would come out with an elaborate 'well not really, we knew we were going to be in for a good chance....blab blab blab..' Not even an England fan but the guy seems like a perfect coach!

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hellraiser_rob March 16, 2014 8:51 am

You raise a good point with the post match interviews, this is the uncultured work of sonia mclaughlin who would be more at home doing football interviews I think. Her only goal is to provoke some kind of frustrated outburst with her shit questions, she should be sacked.

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DrG March 16, 2014 10:47 am

Well, they are the sorts of questions you ask a team that has just lost 'where do you feel it could have gone your way' or something like that - You don't ask the captain of the team who scored a try who looks completely fooked after a game that involved his team scoring 50 points 'where could you have done better?' - The guy is blowing and probably can't remember the first 30 points of the game, let alone where they could have done better, then when he appears to take a bit of offence she turns to someone else leaving Robshaw to just walk away, finishing only with a quick 'thanks Chris'... I know the media are there to poke and prod etc, but I feel sometimes they need to use their heads.

I remember someone a few years ago (was it her again) asking Andy Robinson after a match where Scotland lost in the last seconds of the game (against a big team) - 'So Andy what is the mood in the dressing room right now?' he followed up with 'What do you think?'

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Reality March 16, 2014 11:57 am

My only memory of her is from after a Wales-New Zealand match where Dan Carter had high-tackled someone and gone on to be named man of the match, when for the duration of the interview she pretty much demanded that he apologise for the high tackle and asked him if he was sorry. Carter handled it like a gentleman but I would have told her to shove her stupid questions up her arse.

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Phil mc avity March 16, 2014 4:28 pm

She also called Stuart 'Clive' ... Ok she might not be the best, but Philipe Saint Andre loves her! I had never seen him smile as much before she first interviewed him! He loves it!
In Sonia's defence she might not write all the questions, and might have to ask those shit ones. Also when she left Chris Robshaw to walk away and then quickly said 'thanks Chris' maybe she had some dick in her ear piece saying 'hurry up, were running out of time, talk to "CLIVE" (XD Stuart!)' so maybe she isn't perfect but we don't know what goes on behind the scenes.
But as you guys said, it's nice to see the professionnalism of the players, the way they and the coaches handle some shit questions!

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DrG March 16, 2014 8:11 pm

Yeh, Phil could be right, she might have a pad of questions she is supposed to ask and she probably was being told to hurry, I seem to recall someone saying 'we might not have a chance to talk to BOD because of the time frames' or something like that.

Maybe I shouldn't be so direct to HER, but definitely the genius that thinks up some of the questions needs a swift kick in the butt to bring them back to earth..

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benji March 16, 2014 9:01 pm

i think they must be being told to just ask certain questions in a short space of time. Must be quite hard thinking on your feet at the same time as being talked to in your ear, like on the BBC news channel some of the shit they come out with!

Slightly deviating but I remember in the olympics John Inverdale helped one of the mens pair rowers (who were supposed to be a guaranteed gold) off the boat and started interviewing him asking him shit questions. The guy was literally crying, couldn't stand on his own let alone speak! he managed about two words and had to be carried off. Classic mindless commentary that achieved zilch.

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45678 March 17, 2014 9:41 pm

The questions asked are purely seeking soundbites and controversy. It's heat of the moment football stuff meant for match of the day, where a manager will say the referee was rubbish etc

I think people should turn off the commentary and watch the game. It's amazing how spectators, particularly those ill informed armchair spectators absorb the commentary and take it as fact

The media don't want media trained benign responses, but they've brought it on themselves by acting like dickheads for years

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AJ_Capote March 19, 2014 9:18 am

A few years ago the BBC Six Nations coverage had a Red Button option to turn off the commentary. I took it for every single game, and it was wonderful. No more inane punditry telling me what to think about a game - I was just watching it with my own judgement, enjoying the natural atmosphere and hearing all the random shouts from the ref and players.

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AJ_Capote March 19, 2014 9:23 am

I was infuriated with her constant bashing after the game, it's like she (or whoever wrote the questions) had an agenda - England hadn't hit the 50 point winning margin ergo FAILURE. I thought not only was this disrespectful to England (and I wouldn't have blamed any of the players/SL for taking issue with it), but Italy - in fact the whole BBC coverage seemed to forget that there was another team on the pitch in Rome. They only remembered Italy were playing when Sarto nabbed the intercept - it was comical how shocked they were.

Have we ever put 52 points on Italy in Rome before? After the game I was delighted that we had won so comfortably against a team that (as SL noted before and after the game) had come close to beating us in recent years. I can't remember the last time we really pumped Italy by a big score, bar Twickenham 2011. So what about points difference?

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DrG March 19, 2014 10:55 am

I'm not an English fan but I too found it incredibly disrespectful - as noted up there somewhere.

Like I said, Robshaw was blowing out his backside, it was no doubt a hot day in Rome smack bang in the middle of the day, Robshaw had just scored a try and the rest of the England team had a big plan the whole game with Farrell taking quick kicks etc and Robshaw is asked 'what could you have done better'...

I know it was week 1, but Wales beat Italy 23-15.
Week 2 France beat Italy 30-10
Week 3 Scotland beat Italy 21-20
Week 4 Ireland 43-7

So honestly Italy have done pretty well at staying in a lot of the games and getting destroyed by Ireland was IN Ireland... So for England to do it in Rome was great for them...

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Phil mc avity March 16, 2014 1:36 am

May was shite...as predicted ;-)
And I completly agree with Woodward: Farrell and Brown played brilliantly through the 6 nations, they formed englands attack.

And honestly I kind of understand why Farrell got so fustrated at the end, people like him, Lawes,Brown...etc had gave it their all for the whole match and then on come the shit subs and screw everything up.

May got dumped twice.

Youngs cocked up his first lineout.
But Ford looks quite good and I can't wait untill the summer tour. I thought England we're quality this year.
I'm glad Ireland got the title for BOD but I thought England we're the better team.

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hellraiser_rob March 16, 2014 8:53 am

Hopefully we can get Yarde, Wade, etc. fit for the tour to New Zealand, although there are questions about the defence of both. Who would you pick?

Thought Dixon was terrible when he came on, didn't get the ball away quickly, knocked on, threw a shit pass leading to the interception try, etc.

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Facepalm March 16, 2014 11:28 am

Wade's defence is shaky. Kuridrani swatted him like a fly on the lions tour. That said Kuridrani is an animal of a player. Joel Tomkins, for all his faults, is a pretty solid defensive unit so if he can't tackle him then Wade's missed tackle is made slightly more forgivable. Slightly.

I imagine in New Zealand Lancaster will be looking at Foden, Yarde and Nowell competing for a starting place.

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Phil mc avity March 16, 2014 4:31 pm

I agree, but I do think he will look at Tuilagi on the wing.
I would definetly keep Nowell on the right.
And I would like to see Watson aswell!

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benji March 16, 2014 9:05 pm

I would have though Youngs and Dixon would be fighting it out for the bench position a bit more? Youngs used to be 1st choice but hasn't featured at all in 6N, didn't he have a pretty shit autumn series?

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FatProp March 16, 2014 11:27 pm

Winger wise Nowell, Yarde, Watson and the great Ashton
Also I would like to see cipriani in the squad.

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Canadian content March 17, 2014 10:21 pm

His pass did not lead to the intercept. Players deal with bad ball all the time, joe wasn't under pressure, he made a poor decision.

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stroudos March 17, 2014 7:20 am

@Phil, fair enough mate, May was as terrible as you've been claiming he is in this game. Every time he ball reached him in attack the move died out and we lost all momentum. Mitigating factor: England were maybe trying to force it wide too early so he was getting the ball near the touch line with 1-2 defenders right in front of him - but, he must be able to see that so why not hit a switch line so you're smashing an inside angle rather than wait to catch the ball and then think about cutting in. Clearly he's a better player than I am, as he's the one in the England team but some of his errors look bloody elementary.

I was gutted to see Burrell go off, as he was having another absolute stormer. Seemed obvious from the way the game was going that Tuilagi would replace the ineffectual May in the wing, so we'd have had the formidable combination of Burrell and Tuilagi on the field together.

This has to be the way forward- Burrell offers so much more in the centre position than Tuilagi, namely distribution, creativity, timing and organisation in defence. Tuilagi will scare the shit out of opposition wings and, unlike May lurking on the touch line waiting for ball, I expect him to join the midfield in attack, a-la-George-North. Imagine trying to defend when you don't know which of Burrell, Tuilagi or indeed Twelvetrees is going to smash it up.

That's what I'd do if I were Lancaster anyway...

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DrG March 17, 2014 12:14 pm

I was actually shocked that happened too, I thought May was awful and the obvious player to swap him with was Tuilagi.. I mean it was Tuilagis first game back so at least if he was awful, he wouldn't have replaced a great player. Burrell was playing extremely well.

As for your comments regarding pro players being better, well that is a given I suppose, and I think we're all guilty of calling someone 'awful' when clearly they're in a superior position to ourselves, but luckily this is not youtube and we can all understand it's 'relatively' speaking :D

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45678 March 17, 2014 9:45 pm

I think tuilagi would be found out defensively on the wing. He more than solid head on, but he gets stood up and run round even in the centres (May be due to lack of fitness however)

Has he got the pace?

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jimmy23 March 17, 2014 10:27 pm

I'd be more worried in terms of positioning on defence but he has surprising pace for a guy of his size, watch his try against France in 2012.

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dave March 18, 2014 5:50 pm

I read that tuilagi is up there in the england squad with one of the best 10 m and 40 m sprint times, the good thing about tuilagi is that on all the plays where jonny may runs in field tuilagi maybe bashes through for a try, but the bad thing is good teams will bombard him with kicks to test his catching and if he's good at catching them they will likely kick to him in a spot where it's a disadvantage to run back forcing him to display his return kicks, until he develops his kicking I think they should use him as a super sub, burrell is too good right now, and when have we ever had someone pushing tuilagi? manu probably has more potential than anyone in rugby, maybe it will force him to develop it

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jimmy23 March 18, 2014 10:28 pm

Yeah the kicking side of things would probably be the biggest worry. I'm sure he could belt it quite a distance though, taking into account the ball doesn't explode on impact.

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DrG March 19, 2014 10:58 am

I'm probably way off here, but his appearance gives me the impression he is one of those people that when he winds up to send the ball into orbit, you think 'oh no we'll be pinned right back with this kick' only to then see the ball skim off his foot and travel about 10 metres sideways...

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dave March 19, 2014 5:51 pm

we won't know unless leicester gives him a try on the wing, probably won't happen though, cockerill seems to think they should just drop burrell for tuilagi

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Phil mc avity March 19, 2014 9:29 pm

Alesana Tuilagi has done pretty well on the wing for all these years.

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jimmy23 March 16, 2014 9:57 am

One French pass away from winning the championship! Oh well Ireland and England were neck and neck throughout the whole tournament and it could have gone either way! At least Wales didn't win it.
Finally things are starting to look promising with England, still the issue with silly errors and not capitalising on chances but overall its the first time we've had a team that look like they give a shit and we can actually feel proud of since 2003.
Roll on New Zealand, thats when we truly find out what we have to offer.

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Phil mc avity March 16, 2014 4:37 pm

One French kick away aswell! (Merciiii Doussain!!!!!)
I hope the northern hemisphere do really well in the world cup!

@Hellraiser_Rob, Dickson is shite. David Cameron would beat him up!
Hopefully Youngsters such as Watson (wing/fullback) and Luke cowan dickie (hooker) will grow and get a chance this summer.

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dave March 16, 2014 5:02 pm

that's a good point total in rome!
that's like winning 80-11 at twickenham

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