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Mama Mia!I bet the Italians wished they'd got on their scooters at half time, made their way to the nearest coffee house and sank a few cappucinos. To steal a tired cliche from another well-known sport this was certainly a game of 2 halves.
The first half was a lacklustre, tetchy affair and England were lucky to go in at the interval 10 points to the good. But in the second half they were a simply awesome attacking force as the Italians capitulated under immense English pressure, conceding a massive 47 points without reply. A criticism often levelled at England is that when they get ahead in a game they lack the "killer instinct" often displayed by their Southern Hemisphere counterparts. Not so on Saturday when they produced wave after wave of exhilarating attacks and practically scored from every one even when the game was so obviously won.
Difficult as it is to pick out any star performers in this current England set-up both Healey and Wilkinson were outstanding. Wilkinson, in particular, produced a near flawless display with 13 out of 14 conversions and penalties. It is surely inevitable that he will become England's all-time record points scorer during the course of this Six Nations Tournament.
Complacency is the only barrier between England and Championship. With all due respect to the Italians, if England had come across a superior attacking force such as the Fresh or Irish in that first half then they could have found themselves well out of reach by half-time. However, England's 2nd half performance and their recent wins against Wales and the Southern Hemisphere giants prove they are genuine world beaters.
Much as I appreciate the history and popularity of the Six Nations, it is perhaps time for England to move on. The only way they can improve is to play regularly against South Africa, Australia and the All Blacks. The fact that England were priced at odds of 150-1 on to beat the Italians is ample proof they need to move to pastures new for a fresher, more demanding challenge.