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England coach Clive Woodward
"Italy battled hard - they're a good bunch of lads"
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Saturday, 18 March, 2000, 19:51 GMT
Woodward eyes Slam decider

Neil Back forces his way past Italy's Cristian Stoica
England coach Clive Woodward turned his attention to Murrayfield, after watching his side edge ever closer to an elusive Grand Slam.

Six Nations Championship
Victory over Scotland on April 2 will give Woodward's men five wins out of five in the Six Nations.

It will also help banish the demons of last season, when Wales denied them the Grand Slam in the closing stages of the final match.

Woodward believes his players have moved on since the dark days of that Wembley defeat.

"The Scotland game will be very difficult, but we are a little bit more ruthless in our decision-making now - it is an area that has improved from last year," Woodward said.

Impressive Italy

But Woodward refused to get carried away, despite England's 59-12 mauling of Italy in Rome.

Matt Dawson: Two tries for England's inspirational skipper
"Italy deserve a huge amount of credit - they played some fantastic rugby early on, and we were under a huge amount of pressure," he said.

"Italy were a good side today - that was full-on, a great Test match.

"They really wanted us during the opening stages, and we had said all week that it would kick off during those first 20 minutes.

"Italy are a credit to the Six Nations Championship, but we showed a lot of leadership, and certainly no one was panicking at half-time.

"Everyone is now very determined to go one step further than we did last season."

Wilko the record-breaker

Austin Healey led the way with three tries - and became the first England player to score a Championship hat-trick since Chris Oti in 1988.

Healey said: "Luckily, things came to my side of the pitch, and I was able to get my hands on the ball.

"Italy were very hard to play against, I didn't expect to encounter such ferocity - the tackles really hurt, and they played well especially in the first half."

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson also achieved a milestone as he set a new Championship record, reaching 70 points for one season and eclipsing former England full-back Jon Webb's previous best of 66.

"I was aware that I was getting close to the record, although I didn't actually realise it when I passed it," Wilkinson said.

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