England have plenty to work on after Italy win, says Saints hooker Hartley

Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Dylan Hartley (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Saints hooker Dylan Hartley says England have plenty to work on ahead of the showdown with Scotland after seeing off Italy 36-15 at Twickenham on Sunday.

Hartley skippered his side to their third win in as many Six Nations matches, ensuring their chances of claiming a second successive Grand Slam remain intact.

But they were given a scare by Italy, who were 10-5 up at half-time, having employed the unusual tactic of not committing to the breakdown, scrubbing out the offside line.

England eventually solved the conundrum to secure the victory thanks to two tries from Jack Nowell and one apiece from Dan Cole, Danny Care, Elliot Daly and Ben Te’o.

But Hartley, who played 56 minutes before being replaced, knows he and his team-mates must improve ahead of next month’s clash with Scotland.

“Every international team is very competitive,” Hartley said.

“If you look at Italy’s last couple of games, the teams that have won against them have only won late on and that’s what we did today.

“We scored some good tries at the end there, but we conceded far too many penalties so there is plenty to work on.

“We’ve got a down week next week and there’s plenty for us to work on.”

Courtney Lawes and Tom Wood also got game time in the England win, with Lawes playing the full 80 minutes and Wood used as a second-half replacement.

And Hartley added: “It was a difficult game, a test for the team.

“We found something out there that we’d never really seen before and it probably took us a good half to adapt to those rules, how they were being refereed and what was happening.

“We knew Italy were a good side and that it would be a real challenge. They turned over South Africa in the autumn so we were full of respect for them and they were very difficult.”

On Italy’s unusual tactics, which created something of a free-for-all, Hartley said: “I was trying to figure it out for myself actually.

“We obviously adapted and we wanted to try to play the ball quicker around the ruck because when we slowed it down we created an offside line that wasn’t there.

“I was confused by it, but the guys adapted well and we hit gaps, kept the ball moving and found a way to win.”