Simon Mail previews this weekend's Six Nations game at Twickenham where champions England should run out convincing winners over Italy...
"Italy have tired in their last two matches losing by at least 30 points in the second half. England are worth backing to cover a 22-point handicap after the restart with the visitors likely to fall away as the match progresses."
England v Italy
Live on ITV
England remain on track to defend their Six Nations title and their Grand Slam hopes are still intact after winning their two opening matches. Eddie Jones maintained his 100 per cent record with their victory in Wales which was England's 16th successive win. While the side may be riding their luck to a degree no team have been able to halt their exceptional run.
The two performances at the start of this year's competition have underlined England's success over the last year. Without playing particularly well, Jones' side have found a way to win with late tries against France and Wales. The visitors should have been beaten in Cardiff but Elliot Daly crossed the line to give England a dramatic 21-16 victory.
After two tough examinations against the French and Wales, it is expected to be a great deal easier for the hosts this weekend at Twickenham. The path is clear for England to close in on another title with home games against Italy and Scotland before finishing with a trip to Ireland. Jones will expect an improved display this weekend and a comprehensive victory, with a try bonus-point, will be the target.
Jones has opted for four changes from the Wales match with Ben Te'o handed his first start for England at outside centre after Jonathan Joseph was dropped from the side. Danny Care is recalled at scrum-half in his first start since the Grand Slam triumph in France last year. James Haskell also comes into the back row after impressing from off the bench in the last two games.
It has been a very difficult start to the tournament for Italy with the team looking nailed on for the wooden spoon. Conor O'Shea's side competed well early on against Wales, leading at half-time, but fell away in the second half as they were beaten 33-7. The team were hammered in the second match with few positives to take from their 63-10 drubbing at home to Ireland.
Italy have made four changes from their last match with Tommaso Allan given his first start of the tournament at fly-half. Highly-rated Exeter centre Michele Campagnaro is promoted to the side after featuring as a replacement in the first two games. O'Shea has called on his team to stop feeling sorry for themselves and will be hoping Italy do not cave in during the latter stages at Twickenham.
The history between the sides offers no hope for the underdogs with Italy losing all 22 games against England. The closest margin has been two four-point defeats in Rome but there have been plenty of heavy defeats down the years. The last three England wins have been by at least 30 points and the signs are this could be another one-sided affair.
The outcome of this match looks inevitable with England expected to brush aside the weakest opponents in the competition. The handicap is set around the 42 point mark but a better bet could be to side with the favourites to run away with the game after the break. Italy have tired in their last two matches losing by at least 30 points in the second half. England are worth backing to cover a 22-point handicap after the restart with the visitors likely to fall away as the match progresses.
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2016/17 Rugby P/L