Brave Parisse left deflated as Lancaster marches on
Italy 15 England 19
Just before kick-off in the Eternal City's modern version of the Colosseum of old, a band of Azzurri followers let off a flare high in the Curva Nord section of a stadium transformed overnight into a winter wonderland.
If only they had found a way of letting off some flair instead, temperatures might have risen enough to warm the spirit. Sadly, there was precious little in the way of wit or imagination on show.
There were three tries, one more than at Murrayfield a week previously, but, each in its own way, they were the tries from next door rather than the tries from the ends of the earth. A triple ricochet, an interception and a chargedown? Not much poetry there.
The Azzurri themselves had a bigger opportunity still, and they blew it. Sergio Parisse, the finest No 8 in world rugby, knew this to be true and said as much afterwards.
"England were not strong today," he said, bitterly disappointed. "This should have been our moment to beat them."
Parisse played on one leg after a dodgy second-half challenge from Tom Palmer, immediately followed by an obstructive nudge from Tom Croft that felled him a second time, but he still performed like a match-winner. Unfortunately for him, he had too many natural-born losers at his side.
So it was that England, giving everything of themselves and more under the caretaker coaching team headed up by Stuart Lancaster, secured a second successive away victory in the Six Nations. (© Independent News Service)
Italy -- A Masi; G Venditti, T Benvenuti, G Canale (L Morisi 63), L McLean; K Burton (T Botes 46), E Gori; A Lo Cicero, L Ghiraldini (D'Apice 58), M Castrogiovanni (L Cittadini 33), Q Geldenhuys (Pavanello 57), M Bortolami, A Zanni, R Barbieri (M Bergamasco 75), S Parisse (capt).
England -- B Foden; C Ashton, B Barritt, O Farrell, D Strettle; C Hodgson (J Turner-Hall 77), B Youngs (L Dickson 50); A Corbisiero, D Hartley (R Webber 75), D Cole (M Stevens 75), M Botha, T Palmer (G Parling 58), T Croft, C Robshaw (capt), P Dowson (B Morgan 50).
REF -- J Garces (France).