Match Centre: Six Nations: Italy 24-27 England

Elliot Daly scored the opening try for England
Elliot Daly scored the opening try for England

Italy 24-27 England, Stadio Olimpico Rome

England staged a second-half comeback as they edged out Italy 27-24 in the opening round of the Six Nations at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

However, Steve Borthwick's 'new-look' side were given a scare by Italy, who managed a losing bonus point and this was also their smallest margin of defeat against England.

With former England coach and current Japan boss Eddie Jones amongst the spectators in Rome, Italy were the first to open their account as England were penalised for being offside and Tommaso Allan kicked the three-pointer to start the proceedings.

The home side further extended their lead as Lorenzo Cannone made a break for Alessandro Garbisi to touchdown and Allan kicked the conversion to make it 10-0.

England managed to open their account in the 16th minute when they won a scrum penalty and four minutes later they narrowed down the gap to two points as Northampton wing Tommy Freeman sprinted through the Italian defence and freed Elliot Daly, who went over the line but the conversion from Ford drifted wide making it 10-8.

Italy continued to impress as Lorenzo Pani showed great speed and sent an inside pass for Allan to score a converted try before Ford kicked back-to-back penalties leading into the break as the teams completed the opening half with a 17-14 scoreline to the hosts.

England showed better intent in the second half and were rewarded in the 45th minute when Alex Mitchell forced his way over and Ford's conversion took them to a four-point lead which became seven points with Ford kicking another from the tee. While Allan, who became Italy's leading points scorer, missed a penalty, Ford didn't miss his as he slotted another three-pointer to make it 17-27.

Italy looked threatening as Federico Mori's pass missed Monty Ioane for what looked like a certain try and they were handed a lifeline when Daly was sin-binned in the 76th minute. Ioane duly took advantage with the clock deep in the red, running clear to dot down and seal a losing bonus point with the aid of Paolo Garbisi's conversion.

So this wasn't quite a statement of intent by England and the performance didn't really get fans off their seats, but there were signs of promise for Borthwick's side in terms of a more developed game plan compared to the one we witnessed at the World Cup.

In terms of Italy, as Seb Negri told TRU this week, they are building and this display in Rome showed they are building in the right direction.

Points Table:

Position Team Played Won Lost Points
1 Ireland 1 1 0 5
2 England 1 1 0 4
3 Italy 1 0 1 1
4 France 1 0 1 0
- Scotland 0 0 0 0
- Wales 0 0 0 0


England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell; 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jamie George (c), 3 Will Stuart, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Ethan Roots, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Ben Earl

Reserves: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Beno Obano, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Danny Care, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.

Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Ange Capuozzo, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Alessandro Garbisi; 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 5 Federico Ruzza, 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Michele Lamaro (c), 8 Lorenzo Cannone.

Reserves: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Andrea Zambonin, 20 Edoardo Iachizzi, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Stephen Varney, 23 Lorenzo Pani.