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England 10 Marcus Smith: 'We let them down as backs'

By Stefan Frost
Marcus Smith /PA

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Marcus Smith became the first English fly-half to beat six defenders in a Six Nations match since Jonny Wilkinson beat eight Irishmen in 2002.

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England dominated Italy in an encounter which finished 33-0 in favour of the visitors, but it was the attacking prowess of Smith which made headlines.

No player on the pitch passed more opponents than player of the match Smith, whose footwork proved too nimble for the Italian defence.

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“It was a special atmosphere,” Smith admitted in his post-match interview. “Lots of England fans came out to support us.”

Smith managed to play the full 80 in Rome and showed his class early, sending Max Malins clear down the left side before recovering an inside pass from his winger to score the opening try of the match. The much-needed win comes after a crushing loss to Scotland last week.

“We were very disappointed on the plane home from Murrayfield,” Smith said. “We had to pick ourselves up as a group and put ourselves back into the competition with that win today.

“We’re still early in our journey as a team but to win away from home in a tough competition is good and we’ll enjoy tonight. The forwards were brilliant and they were brilliant last week at Murrayfield.”

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Curiously Smith felt he and his back division had let down their friends in the forward pack.

“We let them down as backs. We didn’t score enough points but today they gave us a good platform, good quick ball and allowed me and Randall to play on the front foot and feed our outside backs.”

England captain Tom Curry heaped praise on Smith after the game.

“He’s a brilliant individual but the thing you don’t see is how much of a competitor he is,” he said. “He’s very skilful but the guy is also very driven.”

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Sir Clive Woodward added: “England are so lucky to have him.”

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