EDDIE JONES DEMANDED his players to ‘take Italy to the cleaners’ a fortnight ago, but Conor O’Shea has greatly complicated matters for the reigning Six Nations champions.
The Azzurri have employed a two-year-old tactic from the Waikato Chiefs which sees them opt not to engage in certain rucks and so leave them able to operate without an offside line.
Referee Romaine Poite became the focus of English ire during the opening period as captain Dylan Hartley and back row James Haskell attempted to get their head around the Law of the game which require two players from each side in order to form a ruck.
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The French official however, has rebuffed queries about how the English can respond to the tactic by saying: “I’m the referee, Dylan. Not your coach”.
England did manage to take the lead thanks to a Dan Cole try on the back of a maul. However, a fortunate bounce – off the post from a Tommy Allen penalty – has allowed Giovanbattista Venditti pounce for a try on the stroke of half-time to leave the interval score at a sensational England 5 Italy 10. But a little tuition and large rollicking in the changing room has put the hosts firmly back on the front foot in the second half.
Read more about the tactic here: Analysis: Intelligent Chiefs push the boundaries by refusing the ruck