herald

Friday 17 August 2018

England can annex the Azzurri

The Martin Johnson bandwagon is taking on passengers like the Titanic took on water.

Will the weight of pressure prove too much for England to handle later in the Championship?

That remains to be seen. In the meantime, they will encounter a powerful Italian scrum without the necessary tools elsewhere to make it count for something more than machismo.



DIRECT

Coach Johnson will look for clear evolution of the attacking arm of their body of work. As always, the forwards are powerful and direct -- a match for any pack in the world.

It is the three-quarters that have failed them for so many years.

Sure, they have Olympic speed from Chris Ashton and Ben Foden (pictured).

It is the substance between their ears that has always been called into question.

Verdict: England

England: B Foden; C Ashton, M Tindall (capt), S Hape, M Cueto; T Flood, B Youngs; A Sheridan, D Hartley, D Cole, L Deacon, T Palmer, T Wood, J Haskell, N Easter.

Italy: L McLean; A Masi, G Canale, A Sgarbi, M Bergamasco; L Orquera, P Canavosio; S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, C Del Fava, Q Geldenhuys, V Bernabo, A Zanni, S Parisse (capt).

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