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Six Nations day two: England edge Italy, Scotland hold off Wales fightback

Six Nations day two: England edge Italy, Scotland hold off Wales fightback
© Reuters
England eke out a narrow win over Italy in their opening Six Nations encounter, while Wales' phenomenal fightback against Scotland is in vain.

England got their 2024 Six Nations campaign off to a winning start with a 27-24 beating of Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Steve Borthwick's side faced a three-point deficit at the break thanks to tries from Alessandro Garbisi and Tommaso Allan either side of Elliot Daly's effort, but Alex Mitchell weaved his way through brilliantly in the 44th minute.

A quintet of penalties from George Ford allowed England to build up a healthy advantage before Monty Ioane's last-gasp effort - followed by a Paolo Garbisi conversion - but the former's surging run came too little too late as Borthwick's men completed a praiseworthy comeback.

The Azzurri earned a consolation bonus point, but they remain without a single win over England, who are now 25 for 25 in men's Six Nations matches against the perpetual wooden spoon holders.

"It's pleasing to start the tournament with a win. I think we will build through this tournament and will get better as a team," BBC Sport quotes Borthwick as saying after the contest.

"As you start looking now, there is almost a contrast there because we are playing against an Italian side dominated by Treviso players, who play together week in and week out.

Scotland's Huw Jones reacts on February 3, 2024© Reuters

"And you see an England team with five debutants, so we knew it was going to be a challenge and it really was. There is plenty to work upon, but I'm pleased we came through the challenge."

After England successfully fought back to prevail in Rome, Wales sought to emulate the feats of their near neighbours against Scotland in Cardiff, but their exceptional efforts were ultimately for nought in an agonising 26-27 loss.

Scotland built up their seemingly unassailable 27-point lead in a dominant 43-minute period, where Pierre Schoeman and Duhan van der Merwe (two) dived over the line while the boot of Finn Russell added another 12 points to the score.

However, Warren Gatland's men came out a different beast as the second half progressed, as James Botham, Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright and Alex Mann notched tries alongside three Ioan Lloyd conversions, but Scotland were not to be denied a first win in Cardiff since 2002.

Gregor Townsend's side hoisted the Doddie Weir Cup aloft for the second year running on account of their nail-biting triumph, which also saw the Scots prevail in their opening Six Nations fixture for the fourth tournament in a row.

Round two kicks off with Scotland hosting France and England welcoming Wales to Twickenham next Saturday, before Ireland and Italy close out the weekend with an encounter at the Aviva Stadium on February 11.

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