Italy 11-52 England
Lancaster defends substitutions
ESPN Staff
March 15, 2014
Manu Tuilagi celebrates the win with Jack Nowell © Getty Images

Stuart Lancaster praised his team's progress in the aftermath of their win over Italy and also defended the substitutions he made.

Lancaster pays tribute to Ireland

  • "Credit to Ireland - they are deserved winners and it's a fitting finale and send-off for Brian O'Driscoll, a legend of the game whom everyone in this squad respects massively. We always knew this was going to be one of the tightest Six Nations and go down to the wire.
  • "I am very proud of what we have achieved over the tournament, both in how this young group has developed and also our intent to play attacking rugby. We have fielded 28 players but it's been a whole squad effort from players, coaches and management. I'd also include the supporters in that, both at Twickenham and away, because they have been brilliant and bought into what we are trying to achieve.
  • "With other guys coming back from injury we are massively excited about the New Zealand tour which will give us further options to grow as a team."

Sir Clive Woodward, who was in Rome on broadcasting duties, questioned Lancaster's decision to make substitutions in the second-half when England were in the ascendancy. The bench was emptied over the course of the second 40 but Lancaster defended the calls.

"I'm curious as to which substitute didn't add. Manu added. We make our decisions on what we're seeing," Lancaster said. "We hadn't decided before the game what way we were going to go, but as the game unfolded we thought bringing Manu on at 13 in place of Luther would have the best impact.

"And Manu made a great impact when he came on. He scored a try, broke tackles, didn't make any defensive errors, turned the ball over in the last play which resulted in a try. He added value."

England put seven tries on Italy in total and finished the campaign on a high. Lancaster was pleased with his team's performance, saying: "We've made huge progress. We played this game last year and won 18-11 with six penalties.

"We have produced a big scoreline on the back of a Sunday game against Wales - opponents who emotionally and physically took a lot out of the players - with a team that has an average age of 24. We haven't got everything right in every game, but when you put everything into perspective we have made great progress.

"Our intent to attack, the quality of our defence and set piece has been excellent. We are in good shape going forward, particularly with quality additions to come back into our squad who we know already are on their way back."

Italy have lost every match of their Six Nations and head coach Jacques Brunel admitted they now face some searching questions. He said: "We started the tournament well, but didn't finish well, so we are behind where we want to be.

"We were struggling after 20 minutes and went backwards with this game. Now we have to ask if Italy can still be ambitious and ask what our goals should be."

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