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Wilkinson missed his only kick at goal of the day from the touchline and England headed in at half time 14 0 ahead.
rugby but this was too unstructured to provide the platform that could have splintered the Italians.
10th February 2007
But scrum half Harry Ellis again turned in a solid performance and Andy Farrell (pictured) impressed both with ball in hand and at the breakdown a couple of turnovers on the ground hinted at just why Saracens initially were so keen to play the rugby league convert in the back row.
But this was a far cry from last week's sparkling team performance against Scotland, as Italy dominated for long periods and England New York Giants Hat reverted worryingly to the lack of ambition and poor execution that haunted them last autumn.
When Italy did reach the England line for the first time on the hour, the England defence was creaking only for Sergio Parisse to knock on at the back of the ruck.
England's attacking was often incoherent. Brian Ashton may want them to play off the cuff Jordan Cap For Sale
Italy suffered for that poor decision after Roland De Marigny sliced the clearance into touch just five metres out and the line out drive was pulled down, earning Italian skipper Marco Bortolami 10 minutes in the sin bin.
by wrestling the ball out of the ruck and crashing over beneath the sticks unopposed.
Twickenham settled into a torpor and the biggest cheer came when a photographer was hit on the head by one of the many clearances into touch.
Ultimately England won because of Wilkinson's boot, but with Ireland next up at Croke Park, the world champions will have to play much better than this to derail the Six Nations favourites.
Italy's try finally arrived from open play on 64 minutes after England failed to chase up a Wilkinson high kick.
That settled it but England will be aware that last season they also started their Six Nations campaign with two wins. Their subsequent collapse was spectacular but at least this year they have their talisman to steady the nerves.
Italy counter attacked with numbers over on the left, Josh Sole broke through the centre and Scanavacca made amends for his woeful place kicking Jordan Caps 2017
After last week's mauling at the hands of France, Italy made their intentions clear from the outset. They would play conservatively, kicking for position and keeping England in their own half as much as possible.
England immediately took advantage of their man over as the ball was spun out wide, Mathew Tait provided the perfect dummy line, Farrell's cut out pass was tipped on by Josh Lewsey and Jason Robinson crashed over in the left corner.
But England played out the final 10 minutes without alarm and after winning their first Italian lineout of the match on 73 minutes, Wilkinson settled any lingering nerves with his fifth penalty.
England finally got a handling move going after 34 minutes and Mike Tindall was stopped just a yard short of the Italian line, although he was fortunate not to be penalised for holding onto the ball.
There were not too many positives for England particularly in the forwards, who failed to establish anything like the the platform they enjoyed against Scotland thanks to a committed, abrasive display by the Italian Ny Cap Black
Wilkinson knocked over three penalties none of them simple in the opening 15 minutes and Scanavacca missed a couple of similar difficulty, but neither side threatened the try line in the opening half an hour.
But they were unable to build on that platform after the break, as Italy took a reasonably firm grasp on the match.
After an impressive forward drive, Italy finally had the confidence to show some ambition with ball in hand and Roland De Marigny was in a position to score when he dropped the ball.
At 17 7 it was a contest again and even Wilkinson proved briefly fallible as he was short with a drop goal attempt from 35 metres out.
With a little more conviction Italy could even have claimed their first win against England, although their cause was not helped by Andreas Scanavacca missing all three of his penalty attempts.
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