Six Nations: England v Italy match preview

A look ahead to this weekend’s Six Nations fixture at Twickenham

England will be hopeful of a slightly more comfortable victory when Italy arrive at Twickenham in the RBS Six Nations on Sunday, as they look to continue their impressive march towards a Grand Slam. Having battled to a nervy 23-13 victory against France two weeks ago, Stuart Lancaster’s side will look to despatch an Italian side that has struggled to perform since a mesmerising 23-18 triumph over France on the opening weekend.

Having claimed much of the praise for the turnaround against France, many of England's replacements have been rewarded with a starting berth. Toby Flood will start for the injured Owen Farrell, who had to leave the field against the Tricolore after he broke down with a hamstring strain. Flood looked assured in attack and kicked perfectly in Farrell's absence, giving Lancaster a timely reminder that he has other options at 10.

Farrell's Saracens teammate Mako Vunipola comes into the front-row for his first start with Joe Marler dropping to the bench, as does Courtney Lawes who makes way for James Haskell in the back-row. Danny Care gets a chance to impress as he replaces Ben Youngs, though the Leicester Tigers scrum-half has been very impressive throughout this campaign and the pressure is on Care to deliver if he wants to rip the starting jersey away from Youngs.

Youngs' older brother Tom returns at hooker after Dylan Hartley disappointed against France, though the Northampton Saints captain did star when he featured for his club against London Irish last weekend. There is also a welcome return for Tom Croft to the replacements, 11 months after he suffered a broken neck that nearly left him paralysed. Croft, widely regarded as one of the most skilful back-row players in the world when fit, has played five games for the Tigers in his comeback, and will be hoping that a run of fitness could lead to a starting berth and a second Lions call-up in the summer.

Italy have been boosted with the news that stalwart Sergio Parisse will be available following a successful appeal against his 30-day ban for verbally abusing referee Laurent Cardona while playing for Stade Francais against Bordeaux-Begles. The Number 8 saw the ban reduced to 20 days and the influential captain will be available in time for Sunday's clash. Parisse will lead out his side as they continue their quest for a first win over England since the sides first met in 1991.

 

LINE-UPS...

England - Alex Goode; Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, Mike Brown; Toby Flood, Danny Care; Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Geoff Parling, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw (c), Tom Wood.

Replacements: Dylan Hartley, Dave Wilson, Joe Marler, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft, Ben Youngs, Freddie Burns, Billy Twelvetrees.

 

Italy - not available

 

KICK-OFF: Sunday, 3pm.

 

PAST THREE MEETINGS...

Italy 15 England 19, Six Nations, February 2012

England 59 Italy 13, Six Nations, February 2011

Italy 12 England 17, Six Nations, February 2010

 

STATS...

England have won all 18 meetings between the two sides, though the Italians did earn a 15-15 draw against an England XV in 1986.

England have beaten Italy by over 40 points on five occasions - 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2011.

Martin Castrogiovanni will make his 11th appearance against England on Sunday - more than any other Italian player. Mirco Bergamasco is currently level with Castrogiovanni on 10.

Chris Ashton has scored four tries against the Italians, with all four coming in 2011 in the 59-13 rout at Twickenham. Danny Care, Toby Flood and James Haskell have one try each.

Only Tommaso Benvenuti and Giovanbattista Venditti have scored a try against England from the current squad.

 

PLAYER TO WATCH...

England: Manu Tuilagi - The Leicester centre lifted Twickenham each time he received the ball against France, and rightly so. He consistently broke the gainline and trampled over those in front of him, and not even a tear to his ear that required 17 stitches could stop him. Against a weaker midfield, Tuilagi could run rampant on Sunday, and the requirement to double-man Tuilagi will leave space for those such as Chris Ashton to maximise.

Italy: Sergio Parisse - The Italian captain carries his team at times, and despite the 94-capped Martin Castrogiovanni leading the side, Italy were clearly missing their leader. His ball carrying and leadership are second to none, and you can guarantee he will give his all whatever the score. He will need to inspire his side like never before if the Azzurri are to break the English stranglehold on them.

 

CLASSIC MATCH...

18 March 2000 - Italy 12 England 59

It was the first time that England would visit Rome as part of the newly expanded Six Nations. The introduction of the Italians didn't faze Clive Woodward's side, and an Austin Healy hat-trick was enough to see off the Azzurri comfortably. Ben Cohen and Matt Dawson scored a brace each while England were also awarded a penalty try. 14 points came from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson and flanker Neil Back managed to get on the score-sheet with a drop goal in what was a baptism of fire for the Italians.

 

TV: Live on BBC1 at 3pm.

 

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future