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Tale of the tape: Italy 11 England 52

19 March 2014

  • Chris Robshaw leads from the front in tackle and ruck numbers
  • Owen Farrell perfect from the tee once more
England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster chats to England analyst Duncan Locke at Twickenham

Photo: Getty Images

The score line is the only statistic that matters, evidenced by the satisfaction felt by England after the thumping 52-11 victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. But more detailed analysis can also provide a view on the game so called on the unique insight of the people analyse the match for the England coaches and provide in-game data, Michael Hughes and Duncan Locke, to see what other stories the match stats have to tell.

This is what they had to say:

"England’s half century of points against Italy – the joint seventh heaviest defeat ever inflicted on the Azzurri in Rome – was, evidently, built on a strong performance in attack. But crucially, it was the team’s most clinical display as well, turning 13 line-breaks into seven tries.

Jack Nowell carries

Photo: Getty Images

In addition to his two tries, Mike Brown was once again the most prominent man in attack. In winning his third man of the match in five games, the full back was the team’s top carrier with 13, taking nine over the gainline for two clean-breaks, one half-break and four dominant collisions.

As a team, we took 61 per cent of our carries over the gainline, Jack Nowell adding two clean-breaks to his first Test try from just three carries. Elsewhere No.8 Ben Morgan made 12 carries (taking 100 per cent over the gainline) and Jonny May and Mako Vunipola each made 10, taking eight and seven over the gainline respectively. Manu Tuilagi also came off the bench and made six carries in 25 minutes, with five over the gainline, five dominant collisions and a try.

Given the players were intent on chasing a big points total in the hope of overhauling Ireland at the top of the table and had more of the ball than Italy – 54 possessions to 51 –  it was also impressive that England turned the ball over less, 19 times to Italy’s 24.

Courtney Lawes

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That efficiency was built on solidity in the set-piece, with the lineout and scrum performing well. The lineout operated at 95 per cent, winning 18 of 19 deliveries. Hooker Dylan Hartley threw a perfect 14 from 14 when he was on the field, with Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood each taking seven balls in the air. Italy’s lineout was also good – winning 12 of 14 – but Lawes did steal a crucial one on our 22 in the build-up to Brown’s opening try.

The scrum also won 100 per cent of its ball from all five put-ins and, to the delight of Graham Rowntree, there was playable possession from four of them (and a penalty from the other). That said, Italy did exert some pressure on their own ball; winning eight of 11 put-ins for three penalties, a free-kick and four playable possessions.

Owen Farrell

Photo: Getty Images

In a game where a lot went on in attack, there were also some strong defensive performances. England had a 93 per cent tackle success rate and only conceded 3 line breaks. There was also pride in defending in the 22, with five incursions from Italy resulting in four turnovers for England.

Joe Launchbury won the ball back three times (twice at the breakdown) while second-row partner Lawes also won two turnovers.  Captain Chris Robshaw was the top tackler with 15, while Owen Farrell and Wood made 11. Robshaw hit the most rucks (32), with Morgan hitting 22 and Lawes 21.

Also, for the second game in a row, Farrell did not miss a kick from the tee. This time it was a perfect eight from eight for 17 points (not including his try) after a similar six from six for 19 against Wales."