Live Commentary: England 18-11 Italy - as it happened

England coach Stuart Lancaster smiles at the end of his team's match after beating Ireland in the Six Nations on February 10, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole brings you live coverage from the Six Nations as England host Italy at Twickenham.

England went into their Six Nations match with Italy as the only side to remain unbeaten throughout the competition.

The Red Rose have a Grand Slam title in their sights, but needed to get past an Azzurri outfit who shocked France on the opening weekend.

A win would have given the hosts one hand on the trophy, while the visitors were looking to push away from the wooden spoon.

In a tense finish, Toby Flood's boot proved enough to help England edge out the Italians.

Read how it all unfolded with our live commentary below.


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2.35pmHello and welcome to Sports Mole's live coverage of the final Six Nations match of the weekend, as England host Italy at Twickenham.

2.36pmEngland have the title within their sights, and will be much fancied to extend their unbeaten run against Italy today. However, Wales win yesterday put them level on points with the Red Rose, and today's hosts can afford no slip ups at Twickenham.

2.38pmItaly got their campaign off to a flying start after shocking France. Since then, they have endured back-to-back defeats at the hands of Scotland and Wales.

2.40pmIt would be some shock if the Italians could claim a victory today, with England having won all 18 previous meetings against Italy, spanning 22 years.

2.41pmHere is another fact to back up the previous statement, England average 48 points, six tries and a winning margin of 37 against Italy at Twickenham. Wowzers.

2.42pmMore stats and records in a minute, but now, it is time for team news.

2.43pmENGLAND XV: 15-Alex Goode; 14-Chris Ashton, 13- Manusamoa Tuilagi, 12-Brad Barritt, 11-Mike Brown; 10-Toby Flood, 9-Danny Care; 1-Mako Vunipola, 2-Tom Youngs, 3-Dan Cole, 4-Joe Launchbury, 5-Geoff Parling, 6-James Haskell, 7-Chris Robshaw, 8-Tom Wood.

2.45pmSo Stuart Lancaster has made five changes to the side that beat France a fortnight ago. Saracens prop Mako Vunipola has been handed his first start, coming in for Joe Marler, while forwards James Haskell and Tom Youngs earn recalls. Northampton duo Courtney Lawes and Dylan Hartley drop to the bench in their places.

2.46pmReplacement flanker Tom Croft is in the squad for the first time in 11 months following a serious neck injury playing for club side Leicester Tigers. Lancaster has also changed his half-back partnership with Harlequins’ Danny Care coming in for Ben Youngs at scrum-half, while Toby Flood replaces the injured Owen Farrell at fly-half. Gloucester’s Freddie Burns comes in on the bench.


2.47pmBrad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi also start for the Red Rose.

2.48pmHere are the England replacements.

2.48pmENGLAND REPLACEMENTS: 16-Dylan Hartley, 17-David Wilson, 18-Joe Marler, 19-Courtney Lawes, 20-Tom Croft, 21-Ben Youngs, 22-Freddie Burns, 23-Billy Twelvetrees.

2.49pmAnd now, we have the Italy team.

2.50pmITALY XV: 15-Andrea Masi; 14-Giovanbattista Venditti, 13-Gonzalo Canale, 12-Gonzalo Garcia, 11-Luke McLean; 10-Luciano Orquera, 9-Edoardo Gori; 1-Alberto De Marchi, 2-Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3-Martin Castrogiovanni, 4-Quintin Geldenhuys, 5-Joshua Furno, 6-Alessandro Zanni, 7-Robert Barbieri, 8-Sergio Parisse.

2.51pmThe big news from the Italy team is that captain Sergio Parisse is available after his suspension for abusing a referee in French Top 14 league match was reduced. He's the main man for the Azzurri.

2.52pmParisse starts at number eight with Robert Barbieri joining him in the back row. There are three more changes in the forwards with Alberto de Marchi coming in at loose-head prop and Quintin Geldenhuys and Joshua Furno forming the second row.

2.52pmItaly coach Jacques Brunel has also recalled Luciano Orquera at fly-half, with Gonzalo Garcia back at outside centre.

2.52pmAnd here are the replacements for the away side.

2.53pmITALY REPLACEMENTS: 16-Davide Giazzon, 17-Andrea Lo Cicero, 18-Lorenzo Cittadini, 19-Antonio Pavanello, 20-Francesco Minto, 21-Simone Favaro, 22-Tobias Botes, 23-Tommaso Benvenuti.

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2.53pmSeven minutes to go!

2.57pmThe two sides are both out onto the field. It's fireworks galore at Twickenham.

2.58pmHere come the anthems, starting with Italy. One of the best in my opinion, so much fun.

3pmAnd now for England.

3.01pmThe anthems are done and dusted at a cold Twickenham, kickoff is imminent.

3.02pmChris Robshaw wins his 15th cap as England captain today.

3.02pmREFEREE: George Clancy (Ireland)

0 minAND WE'RE UNDERWAY!

1 minDecent start from England, making good ground forward before misplacing a pass. We await the scrum.

2 minPENALTY TO ENGLAND!

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3 minEngland absolutely slaughter Italy in the scrum as the the visitors collapse. Chance for Toby Flood to get the first points on the board, it's a long way out.

4 minPENALTY SCORED! England 3-0 Italy (Toby Flood)

4 minClean as you like for Flood, who puts the ball right down the middle from the touchline. England lead.

5 minPENALTY TO ENGLAND!

6 minItaly are penalised for sealing, but England mess up the kick to touch as it stays in play. However, Mike Brown charges down the clearance on the try line and dives on the loose ball, but it has just gone dead. So close there!

8 minEngland are well on top, and are awarded a penalty after Castrogiovanni is deemed offside. The ball is put into touch for a lineout high up the field.

9 minItaly are having to absorb so much pressure, James Haskell and Danny Care are bombing forward for the hosts.

10 minParisse makes a wonderful tackle to earn a turnover, before the Italians present Chris Ashton with half a chance. Scrum time.

11 minEngland's variety is helping them gain yards, and Italy are failing to deal with it at the moment.

12 minItaly are caught offside in the middle of the field, advantage is played but then brought back for England. They opt for the kick into touch, but they fail to put it out. However the Red Rose bomb forward, and Luke McLean has to scramble it into touch for the Azzurri.

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13 minEngland have another penalty, this is surely too easy for Flood to miss.

15 minPENALTY SCORED! England 6-0 Italy (Toby Flood)

16 minA very easy kick is confidently converted by Flood to double the host's lead.

17 minItaly are on the ropes already, but looking to make some ground with a driving maul from the lineout. They are awarded a penalty after England collapse the maul. Chance for Italy to get back in the contest.

18 minLuciano Orquera to take the kick...

19 minPENALTY SCORED! England 6-3 Italy (Luciano Orquera)

19 minComfortable for Orquera, Italy are back in the tie.

20 minLions coach Warren Gatland is in the stands. A number of England players to consider.

20 minItaly break and come so close to the opening try of the match! England are caught napping and Parisse passes inside to Zanni, but the referee has deemed a knock-on. The scrum to come.

21 minEngland dominate the scrum again, but a reset is due.


22 minEarly engagement from Italy results in a free kick for England. Flood comes close to missing the target again, as his kick looks as if it is going to stay in play, but it drifts into touch and England have the lineout.

23 minTuilagi is an absolute powerhouse, several Italians bounce off him as he charges forward.

24 minEngland should have scored. Brilliant play from Flood, as Vunipola drives forward, Ashton is then blocked off before Goode offloads it to Flood, who goes over the line, but Italy are back in time to hold it up. Great last-ditch defending, but England should have gone over then.

25 minThe scrum is the result. The first one is stopped, George Clancy says that the front rows are both down too early. The theme of the weekend.

26 minThe decision is reversed, as England give away a soft free kick for early engagement.

27 minEngland are blown up for a knock on, as the advantage is brought back for Italy. We await a scrum, near enough, on the Italy 10-metre line.

28 minItaly win the scrum and Orquera puts a stunning kick out into touch up in England's part of the field. The Italians have recovered well from England's early dominance.

29 minCittadini comes on for Italy in place of the hairy Castrogiovanni, and England are awarded a penalty following the scrum.

29 minEngland storm forward as Danny Care pegs it along the line, however England are brought back for accidental obstruction.

30 minWe are shown shots of Castrogiovanni with his hamstring strapped up with ice on the side, that is then end of his match from the look of it.

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31 minSIN BIN! (Edoardo Gori)

32 minScrum-half Edoardo Gori is given is marching orders for obstructing Flood as he tried to get a hold of the ball.

32 minCan England take advantage of the extra man? We have eight minutes until the break. Italy are awarded the penalty after England fail to release the ball, Barritt was brilliantly challenged by Zanni.

34 minItaly are certainly not rolling over for England, and Parisse has been superb so far. What a massive coup it was for the Azzurri to have his ban lifted.

35 minEngland look to charge down the right, Goode plays in Tuilagi who offloads it to Ashton on the wing, but the pass is deemed forward.

37 minEngland have a penalty, and I do not think they will attempt anything other than going for the points, after a dominant scrum on the Italy 22.

38 minPENALTY SCORED! England 9-3 Italy (Toby Flood)

38 minEasy for Flood, it's three from three for him as England restore their six-point lead.

39 minEngland live dangerously as Tom Wood manages to recover the danger, Italy have an advanced lineout though.

40 minItaly penalised for sealing the ball off. Flood puts the ball into touch; one last chance for England from this lineout on the 10.

40+1 minThe time is up.

40+1 minImpressive buildup work from England, especially from Mike Brown who powered through the Italian defence. However the final pass is poor, but England a penalty right in front of the posts with Flood.

40+2 minPENALTY SCORED! England 12-3 Italy (Toby Flood)

40+2 minHALF TIME: England 12-3 Italy


3.48 pmFlood makes it four from four as England take a nine-point lead into the break. No tries as of yet but England have largely been in control, they are lacking a finishing touch to their wonderful buildup.

3.50pmItaly have defended very well after their shoddy start, and mounted one or two attacks themselves. But England will be disappointed that they are not further in front.

4pmThe teams are back out.

40 minAnd the second half is off and running at Twickenham.

42 minEngland need to be sharper in this second half if they are to make the most of their good play.

42 minToby Flood kicks a penalty into touch, and we'll have a lineout in the Italy half.

43 minTom Wood takes the catch well and then wins a penalty for England as Italy are guilty of tackling the support players.

44 minFlood is going for penalty number five and this would be a huge kick.

44 minPENALTY SCORED! England 15-3 Italy (Toby Flood)

45 minGreat kick from Flood, who beats the wind to land a monster between the post. Five from five for Flood, and England have a 12-point lead.

46 minLawes in on for England as Parling is forced off with a shoulder injury.

47 minItaly dominate the scrum, and they have a penalty after England stand up in the scrum.

48 minOrquera with a chance to double the Italians score then. His only kick so far this game has been good.

48 minPENALTY SCORED! England 15-6 Italy (Luciano Orquera)

48 minEasy for Orquera, he doubles Italy's score, and reduce the deficit to nine points.

49 minSmart kick from Orquera to put Italy back in England's half. England lineout.

49 minCare kicks up but not away, and Italy have a great chance to build.

49 minTRY! England 15-11 Italy (Luke McLean)

50 minOrquera picks out McLean who has oceans of space on the far side. He goes over to bring Italy right back into the match.


51 minCONVERSION UNSUCCESSFUL!

51 minOrquera missed the conversion, but they trail by just four points now. England make a change as Tom Croft returns to action to replace James Haskell.

52 minItaly feeding off scraps at the moment, but boy are they enjoying them.

53 minItaly have absolutely crushed England in the possession count this second half, 86% they command.

54 minOrquera prepares to take a penalty, as England are guilty of not rolling away from the ruck. Italy can come to within one point here. Robshaw is having strong words with his teammates.

55 minOrquera pushes it just wide to the right. Let-off for England. Twickenham trying to lift the Red Rose.

56 minDan Coles pulls off an awesome turnover inside the England half, and they can break forward. But Flood's clearance is responded to by one from Orquera. It's a tense game at the moment.

58 minNever mind a battle, this is a war at Twickenham. End to end stuff here, as England were stopped at the death, before Italy pulled of a turnover and launched an attack of their own. The game is opening up, which should really favour England.

58 minDouble change from Stuart Lancaster as Vunipola and Care come off for Marler and Youngs.

59 minItaly's momentum from the attack is killed as they suffer a slight knock-on. England penalty.

59 minWe're going to scrum it down. England to take.

59 minEngland power forward in the scrum, and are awarded a penalty. Well played there. Flood puts his kick into touch, and England can build from the lineout. The Red Rose beginning to launch an attacking platform.

61 minEngland have a penalty advantage, but they are going to try and force there way over.

62 minThe attack comes to nothing, the referee brings back the advantage. And Flood has the chance to extend the gap to seven with this fairly straightforward penalty.

62 minPENALTY SCORED! England 18-11 Italy (Toby Flood)

62 minToby Flood kicks his sixth penalty to give England a bit of breathing space.


63 minItaly are awarded a penalty as the referee deems England to have a hand in the ruck. Tom Wood is the guilty man. Orquera puts the ball into touch.

65 minItaly are pinning down England in their own 22 at the moment. The hosts need to come out stronger in this deep lineout.

67 minBilly Twelvetrees comes on for Brad Barritt.

67 minEngland are looking a lot better with Ben Youngs at scrum-half.

69 minThis game is far from over though. Italy drive forward once again.

71 minEngland building. First they nearly capitalise on an Italy mistake, before Courtney Lawes is stopped late on. Italy race straight up the other end. Frantic stuff. Italy have the decision at the scrum.

72 minTom Youngs is off, Dylan Hartley has just come on for England.

72 minLuke McLean, who has been immense today, goes off for Italy. Tommaso Benvenuti comes on in his place.

73 minSeven minutes to go.

75 minEngland defending well at the moment on their own 22, but are being forced to. Italy are working hard.

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76 minWow. Desperate defence from England, and they are rewarded the advantage after Italy knock the ball on.

76 minEngland will scrum it down just six metres from their own try line.

77 minFlood is forced to boot the ball out of play, but does not make much ground forward. England are hanging on here with just minutes left to play.

78 minItaly lineout, one last chance perhaps?

78 minLawes catches, England churn themselves out of trouble and win the penalty.

78 minFlood smashes it into touch to make ground.

79 minMuch-needed ground may I add.

79 minPoor kick from Care out of the ruck on the 22, but Brown catches brilliantly to maintain possession.

80+1 minFULL TIME: England 18-11 Italy

4.48 minWell England hold on, and you can feel the relief cascade around Twickenham. The Red Rose didn't play well but are still unbeaten, ahead of their showdown in Cardiff next week. The Grand Slam dream lives on...just.

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4.49 minItaly played superbly in the second half, and England really had to hold on. They recovered from an early England onslaught, and really took the game to the home side for much of the match.

4.50pmThat's it for this weekend of Six Nations rugby, but have no fear, we'll be back with coverage from the final weekend in six days time. Wales vs. England, what a match that will be. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend, see you soon.

England's Dan Cole in action on February 2, 2013
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