Those forecasting an English hammering of Guinness Six Nations whipping boys Italy were given a rude awakening when a fired-up Azzurri broke England’s defence after just 3 minutes.

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A well-worked try saw Italian newbie Monty Ioane race in on the left wing after some sustained offensive pressure from Franco Smith’s men at Twickenham.

Italy’s early dominance wasn’t to last. Owen Farrell struck back with a penalty before Exeter Chiefs’ lock Jonny Hill barged his way over from close range.

“Gripping start to this wooden spoon decider. Two plucky sides playing for pride here,” wrote humourous Welsh account Dai Lama.

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Graham Love was quick to get the boot into England with this perfectly aimed barb at Eddie Jones’ Englishmen: “Moments like that are why we love sport. So heartwarming to see a struggling team eventually get their first try of the tournament,” referring of course to England’s first try of the competition.

‘I see Eddie Jones has got his mask on this week, nearly got a £15k fine for not wearing it last week so at least that’s a lesson learnt!,’ wrote Andy Goode.

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Prior to kick-off, head coach Smith had no qualms about spelling at the task facing the men in blue, who have never beaten England in international rugby.

“The mountain in front of us is high, very high, but there is a road that goes up there and we will be on that road,” Smith said. “It’s up to us to plot that journey and that is what we are doing. Our main opponents are not England, but ourselves. That is who we must focus on.

“We must also not be worried about getting the monkey off our back, looking to get one win in the Championship at any cost.

“If that is all we work towards then it will be another five or six years before the next victory. It’s time for new faces, new icons in Italian rugby.

“I firmly believe that ending this drought will come from concentrating on how we play, on our basics, on quality actions, on being clinical and accurate.”

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