England crush Italy in Rome
England concluded the 2014 RBS 6 Nations with a resounding 52-11 victory over Italy in Rome, but were powerless to prevent Ireland being crowned champions on points difference.
- Related Content
The deluge of tries at the Stadio Olimpico was insufficient to overhaul the Irish, who seized the title with a nerve-jangling 22-20 win over France in Paris.
England finish runners-up up for the third successive year and are still searching for a first title under head coach Stuart Lancaster, despite their best efforts against Italy.
Mike Brown's sensational Championship continued with his brace of tries decorating a fine individual contribution that resulted in a third man of the match award in four games.
Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell, Mako Vunipola, Manu Tuilagi and Chris Robshaw also crossed in a match dominated by England.
Tuilagi made his first Red Rose appearance in a year after completing his comeback from chest surgery, replacing Luther Burrell at outside centre with half an hour to go, and made inroads into a tiring Italy defence.
Once more Farrell's goalkicking was outstanding with the British and Irish Lion converting all seven tries and also slotting a penalty, but he was lucky to escape a late yellow card after tackling Edoardo Gori around the throat and wrestling him to the ground.
All week England had stated that winning was their only ambition for the climax to their Six Nations, but the attacking intent evident from the kick off told a different story.
At times they played with too much haste and the resulting lack of accuracy affected their momentum, as did the disruptive second-half arrival of their replacements.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster was proud of the performance his players - even if it failed to land them the RBS 6 Nations title.
He told BBC One: "We scored some great tries and we've come here and scored 50, and not many teams have done that, in fact very, very few.
"There were some errors in the first half, but I'm just proud of the boys. It's a great squad we've got developing and the bigger picture is important.
"The match against France was frustrating, but then look at the performance against Scotland, the Ireland performance, the Wales performance, and I don't think anyone has come here and scored as many as we have today.
"So you've got to be proud of the boys really."
Captain Robshaw is aware Italy's late try from Sarto could prove costly, but feels the side did everything that was asked of them.
"We always knew it was going to be tough. The last two encounters we've had against Italy there was no more than a score in it," he said.
"We were focused and ready. We came here to score 50 points and that's what we did, but unfortunately we conceded. If we hadn't conceded I'm not sure what it would have been (the points difference) but we're still in a good position."
Brown was named man of the match for his try-scoring exploits but was quick to point out the impact the team had as a whole.
He said: "First and foremost we wanted to come here and put in a performance and win, and we scored a good few tries.
"And the way we played was outstanding. We were definitely trying to play with tempo. All credit to the boys for their efforts today, it was a squad effort."