Eddie Jones’ England will be searching for
a massive improvement after last week’s shock result when they host Italy at
Twickenham in the second round of the Six Nations on Saturday.
Image copyright – Steve Haag Sports
England vs Italy
Saturday 13 February 2021
To Win (80 Mins)
England 9/10 (-37.5)
Italy 9/10 (+37.5)
The hosts were beaten 8-13 by a wonderful
Scotland side in round one but, in all fairness, the English produced arguably
their worst performance under Jones. The Aussie boss lamented the lack of
possession his side had in the Test match, yet Owen Farrell skopped away
whatever ball they did have time and again. The defending champions didn’t make
a single linebreak all game — not a single bloody one — and looked uninspired
and characterless throughout the eighty.
This approach of playing without the ball
and looking to strangulate and pressurise opposition teams doesn’t work if,
like Scotland, the opponents don’t lose their cool. While the Saracens boys should
be more intense this week, and while England’s tactics will likely seem radically
improved against an under-par Italy here, the reality is the squad will need to
address their inhibitions fast if they are to knock over the likes of France
The return to fitness of Mako Vunipola, and
the possible inclusion of George Ford and Courtney Lawes in the starting XV
could make a difference, but it will be tough to gauge England’s true
improvement until they face tougher opposition a little down the road.
Italy were poor again in their 10-50
drubbing by France and could face a similar result at Twickenham. Franco
Smith’s side were defensively disorganised and wasteful on attack, while their
decision-making also left plenty to be desired.
The one bright spark was the performance of
20-year-old flyhalf Paolo Garbisi, a player of freakish talent. The livewire
Benetton man is a constant threat in broken field, with footwork, pace and an
eye for a gap that could make him the Azzurri’s MVP in the post-Parisse era.
Seriously, the kid has a bright future.
A hurting England will be far too much for
this Italian side to handle.