Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ashton Key To England Success

Never have I felt so confident as and Englishman during a Six Nations campaign. Some critics may claim that Italy are the 'wooden spoon' side out of the six nations, but I beg to differ.

England stormed to a 59-13 victory at Twickenham, running in eight tries in total. However it wasn't the superb kicking from Toby Flood that caught the eye, nor was it the high intensity and speed provided by scrum half Ben Youngs. It was winger Chris Ashton who stole the headlines as he ran in four tries, the first time an Englishman done this in a Championship match since Ronald Poulton in 1914. The amount of pace and intensity he brings to the side is key to England's campaign, and I'm sure he's going to be a vital part of England's team when they travel to New Zealand in the summer for the World Cup. 

Further tries from skipper Mike Tindall, Danny Care, James Haskell, and a first try in in nineteen tests for full back Mark Cueto gave England a resounding victory at Twickenham. Once again, fly half Toby Flood proved to be a crucial member of the squad by kicking thirteen points between the posts. The Azzuri hit back with a try from replacement hooker Fabio Ongaro, and a further eight points coming from the boot of Mirco Bergamasco. However that wasn't enough to stop England from scoring their first half century of points since 2007.
You can talk all you want about how England played arguably the 'weakest' side in the Six Nations, however I strongly feel that this could be Italy's best chance of proving that they aren't just a stepping stone for other teams to excel off of. As we all saw last week in Rome, Ireland just scrapped their way through a Italy side that showed a lot of promise and progression in their play. They have arguably the best number eight in the world, whose immense power and strength has given the Italian pack more force and acceleration when driving the pack forward. 

Next up for Italy is a home tie against Wales at the Stadio Flaminio, a tie that is a must win for either side. Twickenham will once again be filled next Saturday where England will face fellow favourites France, a match that could decide either teams fate in the competition.

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