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Rupert Wyman 13th Feb 2010 - 22:06

England set to do a job on Italy in Rome

England come into their second match of this year's Six Nations in buoyant mood following their opening weekend win over Wales at Twickenham.

Martin Johnson's side travel to Italy expecting another victory and at odds of 1/12 to win the match one must expect the 2003 world champions to oblige. If they do win then it will extend their record against Italy to 16 wins from 16 matches.

England are still in transition as they seek to become a more creative force under Johnson but the return of Riki Flutey at inside centre should aid the attacking play.

The Brive man was the top try scorer in last year's competition and he offers the side something that no-one else that is eligible to represent England can. He missed the victory over Wales and it is Toby Flood who makes way for Flutey and drops to the bench.

Flutey's presence will relieve some of the pressure on Jonny Wilkinson and will force the fly-half to not be so deep as first receiver. This will help the England backs get over the gain line and gain crucial territory as they hope to run up a big score in Rome against the Six Nations' whipping boys.

Flutey will also give fellow centre Matthew Tait more opportunities to use his pace and attack the Italians and the pair could be a great partnership.

The handicap line gives the Italians a 14-point start but for my money there is only one team worth backing at the 10/11 odds and that is England. Italy do not have enough quality to keep England at bay and although Nick Mallett's side only lost by 18 points in Dublin it could and maybe should have been much worse.

Having said that everything is not rosy in the England camp as they will be fully aware of what an impact Alun Wyn-Jones' sin-binning had on last week's match at HQ as during his absence England piled on 17 unanswered points.

However, one cannot underestimate the importance of the morale-boosting win to start England's Six Nations campaign.

One of the brightest things to come out of the Wales game was the performance of James Haskell. The flanker scored two tries as he displayed the potential that he has for so long promised.

He is priced at 5/2 to score his third try of this year's championship in Rome. However, the aforementioned centres, Flutey and Tait, are the men for me in the anytime try scorer market, with both available at 6/4.

A value punt could be for Steffon Armitage to come off the bench and score the last try (20/1) of the match against a tiring Italian defence.

Last week Italy's ill discipline reared its ugly head once again and the pressure their defence could be under by the England back line could result in a yellow card being produced, 4/6 is the price.

It may well be the most romantic day of the year on Sunday, but there should be no gifts given to Italy by England, as they seek to further improve their game and make it two wins from two in this year's Six Nations.



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