Rugby: England V Italy 6 Nations Preview
The 6 nations rugby rumbles on and this weekend sees the next round of matches. Having won their games to date England are on course for a grand slam and take on Italy at Twickenham on Sunday.
Of course everyone knows that giving an England v Italy game preview and predictions is something that we all indulge in and we get almost as much pleasure from looking back after the match to check our predictive skills. Having said that England are the red hot favourites and should record a victory.
On current form England are outstanding. They carried forward the momentum gained in the autumn from the spectacular victory over the All Blacks into the 6 nations. Wins against France, Scotland and Ireland have cemented them as the European form team. A win against the Azzuri guarantees a mighty match in Cardiff for the Grand Slam.
However all thoughts of grand slams must be put to one side. Italy managed an outstanding victory in Rome over France in their opening match. Although they have been disappointing subsequently they remain a threat to be taken seriously.
Like many Italian sides over the years they possess a ferocious pack led by Martin Castrogiovannni. He has spent many years toiling on the front row at Leicester and knows a thing or two about the dark arts of forward play. In addition the Italian pack always presents a threat to any side even though they had an off day against Wales.
As they showed against the French an Italian pack on song is a mighty force to be facing. England prop Dan Cole has admitted he is expecting the Italians to come to Twickenham ready and focussed on a win based on a strong forward base. And he should know having been a team mate of Castrogiovannni at the Tigers for several years.
There is speculation that the England coach Stuart Lancaster will make some changes to the starting 15. Toby Flood is likely to start thanks to Owen Farrells injury but other changes are also anticipated. Many are raising questions around Chris Ashton, his poor run of scoring form and his missed tackle in the build-up to the French try.
Some good news for Lancaster is the return of Tom Croft after his serious broken neck. The flanker has a good chance of playing a part, especially after Courtney Lawes indifferent display against the French.
Lancaster is expecting a more disciplined performance than in the last match when he admitted that focus lapsed and England were drawn into some incidents they should have avoided.
As far as the Italians are concerned they are expecting the forwards to return to the level achieved against the French. Castrogiovannni agreed their display, particularly against the Welsh was poor. They were consistently penalised by the referee and the Italian captain accepted they didn’t listen to the ref and were penalised.
So the England v Italy preview and prediction is an England win but a much improved display by the Italians, who could easily get a try or two as well.
England No Draw Handicap -26.5 – 1.91 @ William Hill