More denial for Ashton

Brian Ashton says England were never going to lose Sunday’s match against Italy.

The result is the first Six Nations win for the Poms after the 26-19 defeat to Wales last week. At Twickenham, England threw away a 19-9 lead to lose, and there were shades of this dismal effort in Rome where they scraped a 23-19 win over the Azzuri.

Ashton believes there was no chance of another second half collapse which would have seen a historic win for the Italians.

“At no stage did I think Jesus Christ, we’re going to throw this away,” he said. “We folded last week. I don’t think we did this week. We didn’t have the best of second halves. But at least we finished on the Italian line, not on our own line, like we did last week.”

England defied expectation in making the 2007 World Cup final, where they lost 15-6 to the Springboks. Ashton believed England were on the up, and is now blaming a string of injuries to top players in the build up to the Six Nations.

“I wanted some continuity from the World Cup but a series of injuries and illnesses have blown that out of the water completely,” he said. “The evolution of the side became more of a revolution.”