England set up showdown

England 18 Italy 11

Six penalties from six attempts by fly-half Toby Flood gave England an 18-11 victory against an Italian side who forced England to hang on desperately for the last 15 minutes.

Lancaster now takes his team to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff next Saturday to face Wales in a fascinating encounter, where a win would deliver England’s first Grand Slam for a decade.

A Welsh victory by seven points, however, would see Wales lift the championship for the second year running, so long as they stayed ahead in the tournament try count between the countries.

Lancaster said: “We’re delighted to get the win and relieved because of the pressure they put us under in the last 15 minutes.

“We know we have to improve our performance going into the Wales game.

“Nobody is punching the air in the changing room. We know we can do better. We missed one or two opportunities but going in at half-time at 12-3 we thought we would be able to pull away and finish the job off.

“Italy grew and played well in that last 20. It’s a case of lessons learned and we need to ensure we improve going into next week.”

Italy, who had scrum-half Edoardo Gori sin-binned for 10 minutes for holding back Flood in the first half, fought back after the break with fly-half Luciano Orquera chipping to the wing for Luke McLean to touch down for the game’s only try.

And while Flood extended England’s lead again with two vital penalties, Lancaster’s men were forced to hang on in the final quarter as Italy, for whom Orquera kicked two penalties, at times camped on their line.

England forwards coach Graeme Rowntree said: “The guys at the end were just hanging on.

“We have come through a massive scare. Italy delivered everything I expected and credit to our lads for keeping their composure and coming through that.”

Lancaster must now wait on injuries to Geoff Parling (shoulder) and Joe Launchbury (elbow) before naming his side for next week’s Grand Slam match, but he insisted there were positives as well as lessons to take from their fourth victory in a row in this season’s Six Nations.

Italy full-back Andrea Masi won the man of the match award and then insisted he fancied England to lift the Grand Slam.

Masi said: “It’s going to be a tough game but I think England are a bit more dangerous than Wales.

“We were quite happy to compete against England. This was a very good performance by Italy. We came from two poor games and today we played better rugby, more aggressive, much more physical.”

Scorers for England: T Flood 6 pens.

Scorers for Italy: L McLean try; L Orquera 2 pens.

ENGLAND: Goode, Ashton, Tuilagi, Barritt, Brown, Flood, Care, Vunipola, T. Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Parling, Haskell, Robshaw, Wood.

Replacements: Twelvetrees for Barritt (67), B. Youngs for Care (58), Marler for Vunipola (58), Hartley for T. Youngs (72), Wilson for Cole (76), Lawes for Parling (46), Croft for Haskell (51).

ITALY: Masi, Venditti, Canale, Garcia, McLean, Orquera, Gori, De Marchi, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Furno, Zanni, Barbieri, Parisse.

Replacements: Benvenuti for McLean (72), Botes for Gori (58), Lo Cicero for De Marchi (76), Giazzon for Ghiraldini (60), Cittadini for Castrogiovanni (29), Pavanello for Geldenhuys (63), Minto for Furno (63).

Referee: George Clancey (RFU).

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