Published On: Sun, Feb 4th, 2024
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England boss Steve Borthwick’s worrying comment after Six Nations scare | Rugby | Sport

England boss Steve Borthwick admitted that his side “looked like a team which only had three training sessions together” in a glum verdict of their 27-24 comeback victory over Italy on Saturday. The Red Roses trailed at half-time after two early Italian tries, but edging a scrappy second half saw them claw to victory albeit without securing a bonus point.

It was an England team with plenty of changes from their Rugby World Cup campaign, with Owen Farrell and Courtney Lawes moving on and two debutants starting in Rome. The hosts took advantage and moved into an early 10-0 lead, before England overcame that early scare to start the Six Nations with a win.

However, Borthwick was far from impressed by his side and insisted that they lacked cohesion despite a pre-tournament training camp in Girona, Spain. He is hoping for plenty of improvement before next weekend’s clash with Wales at Twickenham.

“I think there are certainly positives to pull out of it, but it looked clunky in bits,” Borthwick told ITV. “It looked like a team which only had three training sessions together, but credit to Italy. They had a certain part of cohesion picking players from one club which sits second in the United Rugby Championship.

“But a winning start with five debutants and the ability to be in a difficult position and find your way out of it is a massive positive. You are always looking for change. There are certainly things to be improved and we got exposed by an Italian team that moves the ball well, but we will improve on that next week.”

Jamie George captained England for the first time, taking on the role from Farrell, echoing his head coach’s view on the contest. Alex Mitchell’s try overturned the deficit early into the second half before the boot of George Ford edged them to victory, before Italy bagged a late consolation and bonus point through Monty Ioane.

“It was a mixed bag,” George added. “I would say I am really pleased with some of the endeavour. The boys dug in at times and I am pleased with the character we showed. There were a couple of thunderbolts and runaway tries.

“There were some new faces in the squad, but the blueprint we played in the second half showed what we are more about. Felix (Jones – new defence coach) has come in with new ideas and we want to be physical.

“It was not perfect and we know we have got to be better going into Wales, but it was a pretty good start.”

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