Bates' Saxons complete successful Italian job
PUBLISHED: 13:39 13 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:05 26 October 2009
ENGLAND S senior rugby team may have struggled to beat their Italian counterparts on Sunday but Steve Bates Saxons squad had no such trouble in Sicily. England Saxons ran out emphatic 38-15 winners over Italy A in Ragusa on Saturday evening. Former Welwy
ENGLAND'S senior rugby team may have struggled to beat their Italian counterparts on Sunday but Steve Bates' Saxons squad had no such trouble in Sicily.
England Saxons ran out emphatic 38-15 winners over Italy A in Ragusa on Saturday evening. Former Welwyn, Wasps and England scrum-half Bates was delighted at seeing the Saxons record the second win of their campaign.
England's second team scored five tries to their head coach's delight. Bates said: "We dominated the first half, scored a good try and could have had another.
"The Italians were very competitive, as we expected, but I thought our defence was excellent, except for one slip in the first half which led to their try."
Simon Hardy, the England Saxons assistant coach, also felt the country's emerging talent did well against their Italian opposition in the Stadio Aldo Campo.
The former Welwyn player and specialist England lineout coach said: "I thought the team did really well.
"The fact that we were choosing from only six Premiership clubs shows the strength of the Guinness Premiership.
"The players played exceptionally well away from home. The forwards played very well, setting up a great set of backs.
"To score five tries must be considered a good achievement with only three days preparation against a good Italian side."
Harlequins fly-half Adrian Jarvis produced an impressive man-of-the-match performance. His flawless kicking exhibition brought him a 13-point tally from five conversions and a penalty.
While Jarvis was in fine form in the pivotal role, this was by no means a one-man effort, as Bates was keen to point out.
"I was very pleased with the way the whole team performed, especially bearing in mind that the side showed a number of changes to the line-up that beat Ireland in our opening game and had only a brief period to get to know each other.
"Every one of them can be very proud of their performance."
England edged a competitive first period and went into the break leading 10-8.
An even first quarter saw the scoring restricted to a brace of penalties, fly-half Paulo Buso putting Italy A ahead when the Saxons were penalised for an offence at a ruck and his opposite number Jarvis responding with a successful kick when the home side were found guilty of the same offence.
The Saxons endured an anxious passage of play on 25 minutes when they had to defend vigorously at a close-range scrum under the posts.
They kept their line intact with some robust tackling and when Italy switched play to the right flank with a cross-field kick, wingman Ludovico Nitoglia was adjudged to be offside and the pressure was lifted.
Quality kicking from Jarvis then put England back on the offensive and the Italian defence was stretched to the limit by a sustained bombardment by the Saxons pack.
Though Italy resisted well, the visitors finally gained their reward when Harlequins No 8 Tom Guest picked up at the back of a scrum and slipped through on the tight side for a try at the corner that Jarvis converted to put his side 10-3 ahead.
Italy, however, hit back on the stroke of half-time. No 8 Jacobus Erasmus made a break down the right touchline and though full-back Nick Abendanon managed to get to him, Erasmus broke the tackle to score in the corner.
England wasted no time in getting a grip on proceedings after the interval. Five minutes into the half, strong interplay by the forwards ended in flanker Ben Woods taking play into the 22 and from there Jarvis provided a wide pass for Delon Armitage to canter in untouched.
Replacement scrum-half Danny Care made an immediate impact to set up two tries in quick succession for his former Leeds team-mate Tom Biggs and lock Nick Kennedy, who showed a nice turn of foot in his 30-yard gallop to the line.
Italy rallied for a spell under the guiding hand of replacement fly-half Luciano Rodriguez, but the Saxons dealt with a pressure and hit back with a try by centre Alex Crockett.
Jarvis converted all four tries to leave his side with a comfortable margin.
Italy battled to the death and were rewarded with a late score by replacement centre Alessandro Chillon, but by then the Saxons had their second victory safely in the bag.
Bates added: "We dominated the first half, but Italy were still very much in contention at the break.
"But in the second half the players did exactly what was asked of them and that response enabled us to gain control with four tries.