Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Permutations
Here's what Ireland need to win the Six Nations after England's victory in Rome
Eddie Jones’ men scored five tries but didn’t have it all their own way.

Italy 5

England 34

THE PICTURE IS now clear for Ireland.

A bonus-point win in Paris tonight would guarantee Andy Farrell’s men the Six Nations title.

A regular win on a seven-point margin, or higher, would earn them the trophy.

If Ireland were able to notch a regular win on a six-point margin but managed to score at least one try, they would also earn the trophy. 

Anything less won’t be enough. All eyes will be on the Stade de France from 8.05pm Irish time [Virgin Media One].

jonny-may-is-tackled Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO England didn't have it all their own way in Rome. Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO / INPHO

England notched a bonus-point victory against Italy in Rome to lift themselves to the top of the Six Nations table but Ireland and France’s title hopes are not dead yet.

The French would need to beat Ireland with a bonus point and on a margin of 31 points or more to earn the title.

Eddie Jones’ England laboured at times in Rome but eventually notched their bonus point in a five-try win that saw scrum-half Ben Youngs dot down twice as he earned his 100th Test cap.

Franco Smith’s Italians proved to be competitive for long portions of the game, frustrating the English efforts and stunting their hopes of racking up a huge win to send themselves clear on points difference ahead of Ireland.

Of course, even winning in Paris is a big ask for Ireland but at least Andy Farrell’s men now know exactly what they need and that it doesn’t have to be a four-try bonus-point win.

It will be intriguing to note their strategy around taking kicks at goal or pursuing tries. Meanwhile, les Bleus will be planning to finished their encouraging 2020 campaign with a big win on home soil. 

ben-youngs-scores-the-opening-try Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO Ben Youngs scored an early try for England. Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO / INPHO

England’s intent seemed clear from the off as they quick-tapped an early penalty soon before opening the scoring in just the fifth minute as Farrell broke through the Italian defence from Mako Vunipola’s pass all too easily and fed Youngs back on his inside for a try.

Farrell then opted for a shot at goal to take England to 10-0 but Italy struck back in the 18th minute as poor handling from Kyle Sinckler saw Carlo Canna swoop onto the loose ball and offload for Jake Polledri to surge through weak tackle attempts from Youngs and Anthony Watson to sprint clear into the left corner.

England then saw debutant second row Jonny Hill sent for a breather in the sin bin after his tackle on Edoardo Padovani slipped up onto the Italy wing’s head.

Even accounting for the temporary loss of their lock, England struggled in the next 10 minutes and very nearly conceded a second try just after Hill returned, the Italian maul unfortunate to get held up over the tryline after a big surge. The English pack then produced an important scrum penalty five metres out to lift the siege.

jake-polledri-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-his-team Giuseppe Fama / INPHO Italy celebrate Jake Polledri's first-half score. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

Just minutes later, via another Italian penalty concession, England were down in the home side’s 22, and their first maul effort drew a yellow card for Polledri for side entry but their second attempt was turned over by the Italian pack.

A frustrated Billy Vunipola took exception to the Italian celebrations and gave up a soft penalty to let them clear their lines.

And Italy nearly scored right on the stroke of half-time as Federico Mori gathered in a loose lineout and nudged the ball ahead into England’s in-goal area only to be beaten on the chase by George Furbank, who ensured his side’s 10-5 lead was intact at the break.

Jones’ men gathered themselves at the break and scored after just a minute of the restart as Itoje caught a poor Italian exit kick before Youngs threw a lovely dummy and sniped clear from 25 metres out for his second try. 

Polledri soon returned from the sin bin but England’s power began to tell as some muscular phase play earned them a penalty that they kicked into the left corner and mauled over for 51st-minute try from hooker Jamie George.

tempers-flare-between-the-two-teams Giuseppe Fama / INPHO There was plenty of bite in the contest in Rome. Giuseppe Fama / INPHO / INPHO

While Italy had another resurgence of sorts thereafter, England’s bonus-point try finally arrived in the 67th minute as flanker Tom Curry burst over down the left touchline after a mauling effort in the 22.

They had their fifth try in the 72nd minute as Farrell’s clever grubber kick was regathered by replacement back row Ben Earl, who popped the ball off the deck for centre Henry Slade to dot down.

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The English kept searching for another score but dramatically saw a late, late penalty reversed with the final action of the game.

Over to Paris. 

Italy scorers:

TriesJake Polledri 

England scorers:

Tries: Ben Youngs [2], Jamie George, Tom Curry, Henry Slade

Conversions: Owen Farrell [3]

Penalties: Owen Farrell [1]

ITALY: Matteo Minozzi (Guglielmo Palazzani ’47); Edoardo Padovani (Federico Mori ’22), Luca Morisi, Carlo Canna, Mattia Bellini; Paolo Garbisi, Marcello Violi; Danilo Fischetti (Simone Ferrari ’42 to ’52), Luca Bigi (Gianmarco Lucchesi ’61), Giosuè Zilocchi (Pietro Ceccarelli ’61); Marco Lazzaroni, Niccolò Cannone (David Sisi; Sebastian Negri (Maxime Mbanda ’73), Braam Steyn, Jake Polledri (yellow card ’38).

Replacements: Johan Meyer.

ENGLAND: George Furbank; Anthony Watson (Ollie Thorley ’54), Jonathan Joseph (Ollie Lawrence ’69), Henry Slade, Jonny May; Owen Farrell, Ben Youngs (Dan Robson ’73); Mako Vunipola (Ellis Genge ’59), Jamie George (Tom Dunn ’79), Kyle Sinckler (Will Stuart ’63); Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill (yellow card ’22) (Charlie Ewels ’69); Tom Curry, Sam Underhill (blood bin – Ben Earl ’36 to ’41, permanent ’54), Billy Vunipola.

Referee: Pascal Gaüzère [FFR].

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