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Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Sunday, 14 February 2010

England boss Martin Johnson rues missed opportunities

Highlights - Italy 12-17 England

Manager Martin Johnson blamed a failure to take their chances for the narrow margin of England's 17-12 Six Nations win over Italy on Sunday.

Italy were within two points of the visitors before Jonny Wilkinson's late drop-goal gave them breathing space.

"It shouldn't have been that close at the end but we didn't take our opportunities," he told BBC Sport.

"We created some really good try scoring chances but didn't finish them off, and missed some kicks as well."

England struggled to impose themselves on a committed Italy side and Johson admitted it had been a frustrating afternoon in Rome.

"I thought in the first half in particular when we made breaks with quick ball there were bodies lingering at the back of rucks and the ball didn't come out, it got turned over or whatever and that's the frustrating thing, there were chances there," he insisted.

Johnson pleased after difficult win

"Our kicking was OK but there wasn't enough pressure on the catcher. We were giving them the catch too easily.

"Kicks weren't the issue, the chase wasn't good enough but when we did that we got turnovers and that gave us the platform to put pressure on.

"When we counter-attacked there were opportunities and a few more we didn't go for. I'm frustrated because there were tries out there to score but we only took one.

"When there's not enough pressure that gives teams the opportunity to establish themselves in the game.


"When we countered we were good but there were probably more opportunities, in both halves. We were trying to play but the breakdown was tough for us.

"It wasn't until the second half that they put someone (Martin Castrogiovanni) in the sin-bin but I thought in the first half in good attacking positions there were bodies on the wrong side (of the ruck)."

The narrow victory means England and France are the only two unbeaten sides left in the championship and Johnson was pleased to have escaped with the win.

Flutey takes confidence from win

"It is what it is, when you play Italy over here it's never easy; Scotland have lost here and Wales lost here," he said.

"We beat Wales last week, when probably people didn't think we would by 13 points, and we've won here.

"You have to take each game in its own right and you've got to prepare accordingly.

"It was a tough game as we thought it would be but the good thing is that we opened them up, we just didn't take our chances.

"The guys are happy to win, they know they could have done better but as I said before, when you get into a close game you can lose it."

Italy coach Nick Mallett was happy with the improvement in his side since last week's 29-11 defeat to Ireland.

He added: "We improved a lot in areas of the game we didn't do well in against Ireland, in particular our attacking play, the speed we moved the ball, and the lineout.

"There wasn't a lot in the game and it's a good thing our players are disappointed. Before they would have been happy about coming so close against England.

"If we continue to develop like this we can do great things at next year's World Cup."

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see also
England not good enough - Bennett
15 Feb 10 |  English
Italy 12-17 England
14 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
14 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott's Six Nations Q&A
16 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Italy v England match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Wilkinson wants away form revival
13 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Cole delighted by England start
10 Feb 10 |  English
England pick Cole & recall Flutey
10 Feb 10 |  English
Italy recall Bortolami and Masi
12 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 29-11 Italy
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
England 30-17 Wales
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables

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