SIX TOBY FLOOD penalties gave England a 18-11 win over Italy at Twickenham and put them on the brink of a Six Nations Grand Slam.
The Leicester outhalf was the matchwinner on the scoreboard but the real heroes for England were forwards such as Tom Wood and Joe Launchbury that repelled a fierce Italian fightback.
A 12-point lead was ruptured on 48 minutes when Danny Care botched his box kick clearance off the back of an England lineout near their 22.
Italy claimed the high ball and Luciano Orquera found Luke McLean with a wonderful crossfield kick. The winger touched down unopposed bu Orquera missed the tight conversion from wide left.
Italy were just a converted try away and enjoyed 65% possession and 71% territory in the second-half but could not breach the English lines again.
England need a win away to Wales next week to clinch the championship and a Grand Slam.
Flood of penalties
Stuart Lancaster’s men lead 12-3 at the break thanks to kicked contributions from Flood, the man who replaced the injured Owen Farrell at outhalf.
England’s forwards have, once again, taken ownership of the ball and looked to grind the Italians down.
Two penalties were conceded in the opening 15 minutes and Flood made no mistake.
Italian flyhalf Orquera slotted over a three-pointer after England pulled down a promising maul from the visitors.
Alessandro Zanni and Sergio Parisse combined well to raise brief hopes of a sustained Italian comeback but Flood upped his kicking out of hand and Chris Ashton grew in influence on the right wing.
Flood thought he had a try but it was denied, before it went to the TMO, as the Leicester 10 admitted he had not done enough. He made up for the disappointment by increasing the lead to 9-3 on 37 minutes.
Mike Brown set up a bristling phase of attacking English play with a break up the left wing. The home side turned territory into points as Italy infringed under pressure and Flood added his fourth penalty of the match.
In the end, the steady points accumulation came back to save the English.