England underway with big win in Rome
February 15, 2004
Jason Robinson races away to score one of England's seven tries in Rome
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A packed Stadio Flaminio in Rome saw a brave but outclassed Italy once more convincingly beaten by world giants, England, 9 -50.
Italy fought hard and at times looked dangerous but were unable to turn good attacking opportunities into points. Hard tackling by the Italians kept England from running loose in the first half but once fatigue set in, the weary Italian dam bursts its banks and the new World Champions let rip. The last minute try by new cap Chris Jones improved on England's last victory in Rome by five points.
Jonny Wilkinson's stand in Paul Grayson opened the scoring just seconds into the match slotting a penalty from in front of the posts. It was a demoralising start for the Azzuris but undaunted Italy got straight back into the game and one of their best attacking phases of first half was rewarded with a drop goal by fly half Rima Wakarua.Balshaw was the first to cross the line for England fifteen minutes into the first half leaving Italy's Lo Cicero gropping at air. Jason Robinson was as punishing as ever and he streaked down the wing side easily stepping Italy's Rima Wakarua for England's second try.
Rima Wakarua helped keep Italy in touch with a couple of spot on penalties and at 9 -18 Italy were not out of the game but a penalty by Grayson and a last minute slicing Robinson effort extended England's first half lead to 9-26.
Kirwan's men started the second half strongly with Sergio Parisse on the receiving end of a perfectly angled pass but support was lacking and once more an opportunity to put points on the board went up in smoke. An unlucky bounce robbed fullback Andrea Masi of a possible try with the England defence seemingly beaten while new cap Kiwi scrum half Paul Griffen made an exciting break for Italy but all amounted to nothing. An unruffled England bided their time and when Italy was battle weary and flagging Lewsey, Robinson, Grayson and new cap Chris Jones all stepped in to cross the Italian try line in turn. They pumped up the score to the final 9-50 and knocked what little wind was left out of the Italian sails.
In today's match there seemed little evidence that England was suffering from a World Cup hangover and if they had a point to make they certainly made it. Italy once more proved that trying hard is not enough. After the game Clive Woodward said that he was more than happy with his team's performance and although there was still work to be done, seven tries to nil was an excellent start.