Sunday, February 13, 2011
Swan-diving sensation Chris Ashton stole the show this weekend, becoming the first ever English player to score four tries in a Six Nations match and helping England crush Italy by 59 points to 13.
It was an impressive display from Martin Johnsons men and the win brings England another step closer to a Grand Slam. Red Rose fans will take a lot of encouragement from the confident and convincing performances from half-backs Toby Flood and Ben Youngs, whilst James Haskell was destructive in the loose.
Italy, on the other hand, looked a shadow of the side that ran Ireland to the wire last week, with weak tackling and poor discipline costing the Azzurri dearly.
Ashtons first score came two minutes into the game as Flood ghosted through a large gap, before fixing the last-man and feeding Ashton for a type of score that is becoming a familiar routine for gleeful England fans.
Mirco Bergamasco kicked two penalties for the visitors, but the feisty Italians were unable to prevent further scores from Ashton, Mike Tindall, and winger Mark Cueto.
Fabio Ongaro claimed a consolation score for the visitors, but tries from Danny Care, the explosive Haskell, and two more for Ashton convincingly sealed Johnsons Italian job.
After the game, England manager Johnson said: Chris is a finisher. We won't get too many chances to score the next time we play here [against France on 26 February] but we did what we needed to do and that was play well and execute our plans.
Italian coach Nick Mallet said: "Our line-out didn't function at all. It was a very poor day at the office for Italy. The massive difference between the two teams was the speed, the speed of Ashton, Cueto, Care and Youngs.
"England played well but a lot of them were off Italian mistakes, they were helped by some poor defence by my players," he added.
When asked about why he continues to celebrate with a flamboyant dive, Ashton said: "I knew [Johnson] would be a bit annoyed - the lads said he would be - so I thought I'd do it."