Ryan and Woodward back Italy over ruck tactic

Dan Cole scored his fourth global try as England survived a scare against Italy and overcame testing tactics to maintain their 100 per cent record in this season's Six Nations.

Instead, Jones praised Scotland for their brilliant second-half performance against Wales as they 23 unanswered points to all but end Wales's championship hopes and put them well in contention to challenge for the title if they can defeat England.

England went on to win the match 36-15 despite trailing at halftime, but coach Eddie Jones said Italy's strategy "wasn't rugby", quipping that fans who had paid to see the game should ask for their money back.

The Red Rose were errorprone and seemed to lack energy and sharpness.

And yet, at 35 minutes yesterday, he and captain Dylan Hartley asked referee Roman Poite what England were supposed to do to create a ruck. "You will probably find the solution with your coach".

Of course, England still won 35-16 so this is mostly a footnote to the big story, but it's an intriguing one.

There was already the possibility of chaos given a swirling wind inside headquarters; even with it behind him, Owen Farrell - on his 50th appearance - missed touch with one kick during a weird opening 40 minutes.

England prop Dan Cole was driven over for a try off a close-range line-out to open the scoring.

The Azzurri really should have been further ahead; Tommaso Allan missed two penalty attempts before he finally scored their first points with a 33rd minute drop goal but twice they drove near only to execute poorly at the last. And on the stroke of half-time England, who were massive 1/150 favourites with some British bookmakers before kick-off, were behind.

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The match was not going to plan for the team aiming to become the world's top side as Italy led at the half-time whistle.

England lock Joe Launchbury was named man of the match but Jones said Italy scrumhalf Edoardo Govi should have got the honours for his role in Italy's obstructing tactics.

But second-half tries from Ben Te'o, Jack Nowell (two), Danny Care and Elliot Daly - along with Dan Coles' score - got Eddie Jones' side over the line despite a awful performance.

Italy coach Conor O'Shea was informed of Jones' comments after the game.

"Hopefully, we've earned a bit of respect here today".

"We've been made aware it's a tactic that's within the laws of the game whether we agree with it of like it or not".

O'Shea insisted that everything that the Italians used to negate the English threat was within the rules and that it was not up to them to play to their opponents liking. Congratulations to Italy, they strategically were smart today.

"But if people think that we're just going to lie back, I'm not there to take a salary for four years and not make a difference. I am surprised at players not knowing this because global referees tend to go in with their respective national squads and discuss stuff like this". Ben Youngs has been outstanding for us at number nine, but Danny Care gets the starting jersey this week.

England could claim a second successive Grand Slam and set a world-record 19 consecutive victories by seeing off both Scotland and Ireland.

  • Megan Austin