MATCH REPORT ENGLAND V ITALY U20

A sellout 5000 crowd crammed themselves into Goldington Road on Friday night to see the future stars of England Rugby run out comfortable 35-10 winners over Italy in the fourth round of the Under 20 Six Nations tournament.

Tries from Tom Seabrook, Kieran Wilkinson, Ollie Fox and Ollie Sleighthome sealed a bonus point win for England but it certainly wasn’t one way traffic as the Italians scored two splendid tries of their own.

Despite the miserable weather, Goldington Road was packed and the ground got their reward just five minutes into the game. Having worked their way up the pitch, England went through phases before fly half Kieran Wilkinson fed a splendid grubber kick through the gap for centre Tom Seabrook to pounce on the loose ball with Wilkinson converting.

Italy’s response was swift though. Having gone through a good number of phases and spreading the ball all over the pitch, fly half Paolo Garbisi chipped the ball over the England defence for Federico Mori to cross the whitewash for an unconverted score.

An unfortunate clash between the ref and Italy’s blindside flanker led to a blood injury to the official and a short intermission, but both teams were soon firing on full cylinders - England in attack and Italy in defence.

Prop Olly Adkins made great ground before Wilkinson chipped a ball in the direction of Olli Sleightholme, but the Italian defence was well placed and Michele Peruzzo was able to dot down for a 22 dropout.

England kept the pressure on the visitors but an over kicked penalty let rolled beyond the try line and Italy fired the dropout to the opposite 22 to relieve the danger.

Italy saw their opportunity and seized it with both hands. The impressive lineout did its job before the pack rumbled forward 15 metres or so. A succession of pick and go attacks followed before the visitors took full advantage of the Goldington Road slope to attack down the right with Peruzzo crossing for a fine try.

Fortunately, and it was fortunately, England managed to get their noses in front as the half came to an end. Italian scrum half Lorenzo Citton looked to dart away from the England defence, but as the tackle came in the ball slipped from his hands and into those of Wilkinson who went on a superb run to cross the line but he could add the extras leaving the score at 12-10 at the break.

England took the opportunity to extend their lead with a penalty two minutes into the second half and Josh Hodge slotted the kick with ease from his left boot to make it 15-10.

Hodge soon followed it up with an electric break from inside the England half and a good kick ahead which forced Michael Mba to carry the ball over the line giving the hosts a five metre scrum but Tuima and Fox got in each others way allowing Italy to recover and clear.

But England kept the pressure up and they got their reward minutes later. The pack set up a good attacking platform with a succession of crash attacks before Fox saw a gap and darted through to score under the posts with Hodge converting.

Another Hodge penalty made it 25-10 and then the crowd thought that Ollie Sleightholme had sailed through a gap in midfield to score but the decision went to the TMO who chalked it off for a forward pass in the build-up.

There was no need to head upstairs four minutes later though when Sleightholme did cross for his try. A fine attack saw Tom De Glanville darting down the left with prop Alfie Petch in support before Sleightholme latched onto the ball and ran clear to score with Hodge adding the extras.

Italy just couldn’t get a foothold in the second half and a penalty allowed Manu Vunipola to convert from in front of the posts to make it 35-10 with 13 minutes left on the clock.

England continued to play attacking rugby, but with tired legs, a damp pitch and a greasy ball playing havoc, the final finish just wasn’t there and the time ticked away with the home side never looking in danger of conceding anything in the second half.

England: 15. Josh Hodge (Newcastle Falcons), 14. Ollie Sleightholme (Northampton Saints), 13. Tom Seabrook (Gloucester Rugby), 12. Tom de Glanville (Bath Rugby), 11. Ollie Hassell-Collins (London Irish), 10. Kieran Wilkinson (Sale Sharks), 9. Ollie Fox (Yorkshire Carnegie), 1. Olly Adkins (Gloucester Rugby), 2. Nic Dolly (Sale Sharks), 3. Alfie Petch (Exeter Chiefs), 4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens), 5. James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 6. Tom Willis (Wasps), 7. Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby), 8. Rusiate Tuima (Exeter Chiefs).

Replacements: 16. Samson Ma'asi (Northampton Saints), 17. Kai Owen (Worcester Warriors), 18. Jack Bartlett (Gloucester Rugby), 19. Alex Coles (Northampton Saints), 20. Richard Capstick (Exeter Chiefs), 21. Sam Maunder (Exeter Chiefs), 22. Manu Vunipola (Saracens), 23. Jack Reeves (Gloucester Rugby).

Italy: 15. Michele Peruzzo, 14. Cristian Lai, 13. Federico Mori, 12. Damiano Mazza, 11. Michael Mba, 10. Paolo Garbisi, 9. Lorenzo Citton; 1. Matteo Drudi, 2. Andrej Marinello, 3. Matteo Nocera, 4. Nicolae Stoian, 5. Thomas Parolo, 6. Anrea Chianucci, 7. Davide Ruggeri, 8. Mirco Finotto.

Replacements: 16. Marco Bonanni, 17. Lorenzo Michelini, 18. Filipp Alongi, 19. Marco Butturini, 20. Davide Goldin, 21. Gianmarco Piva, 22. Giacomo Da Re, 23. Matteo Moscardi.

Attendance: 5000

Referee: Nika Amashukeli

Pic courtesy of RFU