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Scrappy England beat Italy

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Sportal.co.nz     11 Mar 2013     Getty Images

Six penalties to first five-eighths Toby Flood was enough for the home nation to stay top in the standings, and they will take on Wales in what will effectively be the title decider at Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The Italians scored the only try of the contest, via Luke McLean in the 48th minute, but two missed kicks for goal from Luciano Orquera cost the Azzurri a chance to lead midway through the second half.

Instead, Flood's sixth goal from as many attempts on 61 minutes proved to be enough for Stuart Lancaster's men.

It was unflattering stuff from England, while Italy showed more verve in attack to be the only side to cross for points.

The home side began in fine touch, though, as they had Italy deep into their own half, before Flood put through his first three-pointer from long range.

Try as they might, England could not find a way through Italy's defensive line, with much of that credit due to captain Sergio Parisse - who snared a valuable turnover to thwart an English attack.

But England's pressure was enough to be able to produce penalties, and Flood made it two-from-two on 15 minutes from directly in front.

Orquera converted his first of two when Tom Youngs brought a maul to the ground, and Italy looked menacing when Alessandro Zanni almost combined with Parisse to score - but the skipper failed to grasp the final pass.

Italy were then disadvantaged by an injury to prop Martin Castrogiovanni, before scrum-half Edoardo Gori was sin-binned for obstruction.

And Flood put through another two penalties prior to the break to make it 12-3.

Flood then made Alberto de Marchi pay, after the Italian conceded a penalty for tackling a man without possession, but Orquera kicked his second for the quick reply.

But then a poor Danny Care kick was punished by the Italians, as Orquera found McLean via foot, and he collected cleanly to score a five-pointer to see England's lead cut to four.

Orquera's missed conversion and penalty knocked the stuffing from Italy's momentum, and another Flood goal from straight in front sealed the victory.