Six Nations: England v Italy Preview


England take on struggling Italy this Sunday in the final Round 3 of game of the Six Nations. 

Familiar with the term 'routine victory? Well, this game should prove to be exactly that for the English who are the only side yet to taste defeat in this year’s tournament. The hosts may have had to come behind to secure their two opening wins but were unlikely to see them trail at any point during this game as the Italians are likely to offer little threat with ball in hand.

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England v Italy | Sunday 26 February | Twickenham Stadium | 17:00

To Win (80 Mins)
England 1/100 | Draw 30/1 | Italy 14/1
England (-42.5) 17/20 | Italy (+42.5) 17/20

While the English struggled in patches during their two opening fixtures, they have still produced some decent rugby. Their opening round victory over France was secured during the final 20 minutes, where Eddie Jones’ men really upped their game. The Poms' second fixture followed a similar script as they had to come from behind to defeat Wales. And come from behind they did with Elliot Daily scoring in the final five minutes to secure a 21-16 victory over the Welsh.

This week should be a lot more routine, however, as the Italians have once again proved to be the tournament’s whipping boys. Heavy losses to Wales and Ireland – the handicap was cleared comfortably in both fixtures – certainly do not bode well for the Italians chances here, especially considering both of these defeats came at home.

Eddie Jones is likely to rotate for this one, and I suspect we’ll see Elliot Daily shift into the centres and one of Owen Farrell or George Ford get a rest. We could also see a return to the match day squad for Saracens prop Mako Vuinipola who has recovered from knee injury.

While Jones may rotate his starting line-up somewhat, don’t expect that to hinder England’s performance as Jones has already come out stating that he wants his side to take the opposition to the cleaners.

Sunday could get really ugly for the Italians. The Azzurri were taken to task by the Irish during their last outing, and the score line could have been even greater had a few more Irish passes clicked.

While a quick glance at this year’s results will have Azzurri fans fretting, a look at the recent head to heads between England and themselves will give Italian rugby fans sleepless nights. England have won the last three contests between the sides by 30 points or more, and it must be noted that those past England sides were nowhere near as good as this current crop.

There is some positive news for the Italians though with Sergio Parisse coming through the game against Ireland unscathed. The Italian skipper is the heart and soul of this side and his absence would have been a major blow for the visitors.

Verdict: England (-42.5) 17/20
England have way too much firepower for the Italians, who were diabolically poor against the Irish in Round 2. The handicap is one of the biggest I have seen, however, which is a slight worry. A moderate strike (R75) on England clearing the cap is what I'll be doing for this one.

Written by Darry Worthington for!

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