England suffered disappointment after losing to Wales but Simon Mail expects Eddie Jones' side to respond with a comfortable win over Italy...
"England have won all 24 previous games against Italy and it is impossible to make a case for the outsiders halting the run this weekend."
England v Italy
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England frustrated after Wales setback
England's Grand Slam hopes were shattered in Cardiff after a second-half fightback gave Wales a 21-13 victory in the Six Nations. It was a huge blow for Eddie Jones' side after such a promising start to the competition, which included a win at the champions Ireland, although England are still viewed as the [1.74] favourites to win the title.
This has more to do with the bonus-point victories over Ireland and France which mean they are only two points off the top with favourable games to come. While England are widely expected to defeat Italy and Scotland at home, Wales still have difficult challenges in Scotland and against Ireland if they are to clinch the title.
After such impressive wins in the opening two rounds, England took a major step backwards in defeat against Wales. Their limited gameplan backfired in the second half at the Principality Stadium and their wasteful kicking failed to create any attacking opportunities. Still, the bigger picture will be peaking for the World Cup - a market where they are disputing second favouritism with Ireland - although this setback underlined the side have significant room for improvement.
Jones has made five changes to the side with winger Joe Cokanasiga winning his fourth cap in place of Jack Nowell. Ben Te'o starts at inside centre, ahead of Henry Slade, as he lines up alongside Manu Tuilagi in a powerful centre partnership. Prop Ellis Genge comes in for Ben Moon while Joe Launchbury starts in the second row for the injured Courtney Lawes. Brad Shields is also preferred to Mark Wilson in the pack.
Italy take credit despite another defeat
It is now 20 successive defeats in the Six Nations for Italy although Conor O'Shea's side deservedly came away from their 26-16 loss at home to champions Ireland with plenty of praise. The hosts led 16-12 at half-time in Rome and it was a much closer contest than anyone expected. Italy also had their moments against Scotland and Wales with their heaviest defeat this season only by 13 points at Murrayfield.
Hosts should win with something to spare
England have won all 24 previous games against Italy and it is impossible to make a case for the outsiders halting the run this weekend. Three of the last four meetings have seen England win by at least 30 points so it has been one-sided. England scored seven tries in Italy last season as they won 46-15 and home fans will be expecting another convincing victory at Twickenham.
Italy have been relatively competitive this season, despite the defeats, with the underdogs winning on the handicap in all three matches. This looks another way to support them this weekend with a 33-point handicap looking well within their capacity. England have only managed to cover this in one of their last seven games against Italy so the visitors are fancied to prevail in this market.
England will still have far too much for their opponents and the powerful team selected by Jones should win with something to spare. Two of their last four victories over Italy have been by between 21 and 30 points which looks worth backing at 16/5. Italy may offer some resistance but England's attack, which has seen them score 11 tries in three matches, should see them win comfortably enough at Twickenham to remain in the title picture.
Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster
P/L 2018-19 season