Thursday, 17 February 2011

England 59 Italy 13

As a change of pace from recent posts, and to show that there is more to life than politics, here is a match report from the England Italy game on Saturday:

Memories of the World Cup winning team of 2003 may seem a distant memory to most England fans. To reach the long envied heights of your sport playing ‘total rugby’, only to plunge so far and so fast, was a difficult adjustment for the Twickenham faithful to bear.

The stilted progression of both players and coaching staff through this lean period has attracted much criticism, none more so than Martin Johnson’s elevation to the top job. His belief in bringing young players into the set-up has at last been vindicated and the emergence of Chris Ashton’s raw talent will lead to greater expectation for this team.

This was Ashton’s day. He was always in the right place and his eagerness to play positively seems to have galvanised a back line which has often shown promise but lacked imagination. His four tries, the first time since 1914 this has been achieved, takes his tally to 6 after just two games and his ninth in 9 games. Here is a man in form. Ashton said: “I thought the time was right to do it”, when questioned about the continuance of his controversial swallow dive and played down his individual performance. He said: “I’m just glad to be in the team. A winning team and I hope to go on winning”.

Mark Cueto broke his run of 19 tests without a score and Ashton expressed his happiness for him, joking: “he’s getting on and needs to get tries while he still can”.

Toby Flood looks to be a new man. Against the Italians he was the play maker and most of the inventive play was initiated by him. His kicking now looks as assured as Jonny Wilkinson’s did a decade ago.

The forwards, up against the powerful Italian pack, dominated from the start. They have at long last stopped the chronic indiscipline which has plagued their performances over recent years. With the procession of needless penalties which keep the opposition’s score flowing now stemmed, England can now concentrate on their attack.

59 points did not flatter England and it was only the Italian’s obstinate pride which stopped the score being even greater.

15 Ben Foden; 14Chris Ashton; 13 Mike Tindall (capt);
12 Shontayne Hape; 11 Mark Cueto; 10 Toby Flood; 9 Ben Youngs;
1 Alex Corbisiero; 2 Dylan Hartley; 3 Dan Cole; 4 Lois Deacon; 5 Tom Parker;
6 Tom Wood; 7 James Haskell; 8 Nick Easter.

Replacements: Steve Thompson (49 for Hartley); David Wilson (62 for Cole);
Simon Shaw (45 for Deacon); Hendry Fourie (62 for Wood);
20 Danny Care (55 for Youngs); 21 Jonny Wilkinson (55 for Flood);
22 Matt Banahan (49 for Cueto).


5 Luke McLean; 14 Andrea Masi; 13 Gonzalo Canale;
12 Alberto Sgarbi; 11 Mirco Bergamasco; 10 Luciano Orquera; 9 Fabio Semenzato;
1 Salvatore Perugini; 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini; 3 Martin Castrogiovanni;
4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava; 5 Quintin Geldenhuys; 6 Valerio Bernabo; 7 Alessandro Zanni;
8 Sergio Parisse (capt).

Replacments: 16 Fabio Ongaro (66 for Ghiraldini);
17 Andrea Lo Cicero (49 for Bernabo); 18 Santiago Dellape (46 for Del Fava);
19 Robert Barbieri (56 for Lo Cicero); 20 Pablo Canavosio (78 for Parisse);
21 KrisBurton (79 for McLean); 22 Gonzalo Garcia (62 for Sgarbi).

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).

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