Kick-off: 1500, 12/02/2023
Steve Borthwick’s England reign got off to a shaky start but Italy are the perfect opponents to get him up and running this weekend.
The Azzurri kicked off their Six Nations campaign with a courageous effort versus France, but just don’t seem to function in this fixture.
We’re happy to take 10/11 for a home win by at least 20 points for our first England vs Italy prediction.
That bet would have paid off in all of the last 10 head-to-head meetings between these two teams!
England were always going to enter into a transitional period following the departure of long-time coach Eddie Jones and a 29-23 home loss to Scotland was not unexpected.
However, while a third successive Calcutta Cup defeat will have hurt, there was promise in their maiden outing under new boss Borthwick.
England kicked aimlessly at times and defended poorly, but showed the type of ambition and accuracy in attack that was expected to be layered on at a later date.
Their set-piece is still in need of attention, but in scoring three tries they showed a purpose that was missing in the latter stages of Jones’ time in charge.
“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Borthwick. “I’ve been frank from day one in saying there’s a lot of work to do.
“When I looked at the team in the autumn, when I measured the team and got all the data for the team, we weren’t good at anything. It was as frank as that.
“So, we are trying to build some strengths in this team and some bits we are pleased about and some bits we are disappointed about. My job is to make sure we get some improvements for Italy.”
Getting versatile centre Henry Slade back from injury is a big boost and switching Owen Farrell to fly-half is a solid move.
We reckon the hosts will dominate from the outset and England vs Italy odds.
With a bit more composure in a stirring final 10 minutes, Italy could have claimed a momentous victory over France.
The Azzurri took a 24-22 lead on the hour mark via Tomasso Allen’s fourth successful penalty strike.
Les Bleus hit back through a Matthieu Jallibert try to forge back in front 29-24, though, and held firm under pressure late on.
Head coach Kieran Cowley declared: “I am really satisfied with the character and conviction with which we approached the match.”
Victories against Wales and Australia in 2022 provided a lift to Italian rugby and they went toe to toe with the Grand Slam champions.
Full-back Ange Capuozzo burst onto the scene last year and his electric attacking skills, typified by a slick try, were on full view versus France.
However, some of the basic errors which have plagued the Azzurri down the years were evident as they fell 19-6 behind in the first half and threatened to be overwhelmed once more.
France allowed Italy back into the game with a horrendous penalty count but England should avoid a repeat of that, especially in front of their own fans.
For those wanting a bit more value, 6/1 for a home win by 21-25 points is added to our England vs Italy betting tips.
ENGLAND 23-29 Scotland
ITALY 24-29 France
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