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VIDEO – England edge out hardworking Italy

11 February 2012

  • Try from Hodgson and points from Farrell keep England winning
  • Lancaster's men turn around 12-6 half-time deficit

Italy 15 England 19

A second try in as many weeks for Charlie Hodgson and 14 points from the boot of Owen Farrell secured England a hard-fought 19-15 victory on a cold and snowy night in Rome.

A dramatic double strike from Giovanbattista Venditti and Tommaso Benvenuti had given the Azzurri a clear lead at the half-time interval before England managed to turn the tables.

The hosts rose to the occasion in front of a near sell-out crowd at the Stadio Olimpico but a committed display ultimately went unrewarded.

On a pitch still partially covered in snow, England surged forward in the early stages but a promising move broke down when Tom Croft failed to haul in a Dylan Hartley offload close to the try-line.

England continued to have most of the possession but struggled to build any more meaningful attacks and instead it was Italy who briefly threatened as Luke McLean broke clear on the left wing.

As the game passed through the midway point of the first half the hosts began to dominate proceedings before an errant pass from skipper Sergio Parisse let England in.

David Strettle reached the loose ball to kick ahead before being taken out by Italy fly-half Kris Burton, with the subsequent penalty being slotted over by Farrell.

Charlie Hodgson scores against Italy

Photo: Getty Images

Italy suffered another setback when powerful prop Martin Castrogiovanni was forced off with a rib injury and the Azzurri immediately conceded a penalty at the scrum, which Farrell did well to convert.

But the home side hit back with the opening try of the match soon after when Ben Youngs and Ben Foden combined to fumble a grubber kick from Benvenuti and Venditti pounced to ground it in the corner.

Burton's missed conversion kept England ahead but Italy scored again on the stroke of half-time when Foden's offload was intercepted by Benvenuti, who raced away to ground the ball under the posts. Burton added the extras to make it 12-6 at the break.

And the advantage was stretched to nine points with seven minutes gone in the second half after Parisse was impeded off the ball by Chris Robshaw and Burton nailed a difficult penalty from wide on the left.

Surging back

England were sparked into life soon after as Andrea Masi was closed down as he attempted a clearing kick and, for the second straight match, Charlie Hodgson collected his own charge-down to score.

Farrell nailed a tough conversion to draw England to within two points before edging them 16-15 ahead when he sent a much simpler kick sailing through the posts after Italy had been penalised for offside.

The visitors had by now recovered from the blip and Farrell extended the lead by another three points when Farrell stroked another penalty over after Italy were adjudged to be at fault for a collapsed scrum.

Italy's replacement fly-half Tobias Botes missed a penalty straight from the restart before scuffing another attempt from the tee in the 75th minute, leaving England to sit on their lead until the final whistle.