Italy vs England Preview - Six Nations

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Stuart LancasterIt's a definite sign of the times that, as England prepare for their away Six Nations match against Italy, they have been given only a seven point start in the Italy vs England handicap betting market.

In other words, our odds compilers think that England - the reigning Six Nations champions - will beat the perennial wooden spoon outfit Italy by only around seven points when they clash in Rome on Saturday.

Such a small margin was unheard of just a few seasons ago, but with English rugby considered to be in turmoil the gap between England and Italy is no longer considered as massive as it was when Italy first joined the annual tournament back in 2000.

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Back in 2000, England travelled to Italy and won by 59 points to 12. That is a 47 point winning margin - much greater than the seven point handicap being suggested in 2012.

England's problems have been well publicised, but they got their Six Nations tournament off to a winning start last week by defeating the Scots at Murrayfield and will draw confidence from the manner of the performance.

Though it was a gritty win rather than a spectacular win, interim England coach Stuart Lancaster (pictured) and his players will take heart from the fact that they repelled wave after wave of Scotland attack, showing the sort of strength of character that England have been accused of lacking just recently.

The last two matches between Italy and England have been tight affairs, with England prevailing by 23-19 in 2008 and 17-12 in 2010, but this year the fact is that Italy lost their opening Six Nations match against France last week by what was in the end a hefty 30-12 scoreline.

Also, you can be sure that England will have in their mind the thrashing they gave Italy in the 2011 Six Nations tournament when they won 59-13.

Italy vs England - match betting from

12/5 Italy
16/1 Draw
1/3 England

Italy vs England - handicap betting from

5/6 Italy (+7)
16/1 Draw
Evs England (-7)

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