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England provide unconvincing start to Six Nations campaign

Published: Monday 9th of February 2009

England were virtually gifted an eventually comfortable 36-11 win over Italy at Twickenham on Saturday thanks to some extremely wayward passing and the lack of an experienced scrum-half, with doubts remaining as to how they might fare against stiffer opposition as the tournament progresses.

It was the decision to pick the unfortunate Mauro Bergamasco at number nine that contributed to Italy's decisive first-half capitulation, but this followed the encouraging sight of Andy Goode – his own inclusion questioned before the match – romping through to touch down after only 90 seconds.

While the home side managed to take advantage of the openings that were presented to them, they looked unable to create a surfeit of meaningful attacking play of their own and continued to rely on the defend-and-counter style, causing considerable concern among some fans.

Johnson's men eventually notched up five tries (including two from man of the match Harry Ellis) but a much more imposing performance will be needed against Wales - who looked forceful in their unpicking of an uninspiring Scottish side – and Ireland, who enjoyed an exhilarating victory over France at Croke Park.

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