x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Charlie Hodgson hails calm England

The England fly-half praised his teammates for not panicking as they came back from 15-6 down to earn a 19-15 win over Italy in their Six Nations clash in Rome.

England's Captain Chris Robshaw passes the ball.
England's Captain Chris Robshaw passes the ball.

Charlie Hodgson praised England for not panicking as they came back from 15-6 down to earn a 19-15 win over Italy in their Six Nations clash in Rome.

The fly-half inspired the fightback by scoring his second charge-down try in as many weeks.

"We knew we had to keep our composure," Hodgson told the BBC. "The first half I felt we dominated and they had a lucky try and that got them away.

"But we didn't lose our heads and came good in the end.

"To come back and be successful shows what resolve we have."

Owen Farrell's contribution was also key, kicking four penalties and a conversion in snowy conditions.

Asked what coach Stuart Lancaster's message had been at half time, when his side trailed 12-6, Farrell said: "I think it was just to keep doing what we're doing, we don't have to chase anything.

"I felt we were still on top in the first half and credit to the boys we dug in."

The Azzurri, who had never beaten England in 17 previous Test matches, profited from two Ben Foden mistakes in as many minutes at the end of the first half to claim a 12-6 lead.

Wing Giovanbattista Venditti pounced on a loose ball to score in the corner and then centre Tommaso Benvenuti picked off a Foden pass on half way to score under the posts.

Suddenly, a historic England defeat looked on the cards. A defeat that would have left interim coach Stuart Lancaster with tough questions to answer about his "new era".

But Hodgson rescued England with his charge-down try and Farrell completed a 14-point haul with four penalties and a tough conversion.

* Press Association