We were always in control in Rome – Hartley

England's Anthony Watson scores his side's second try.
England's Anthony Watson scores his side's second try.
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Dylan Hartley hailed England’s resilience after the reigning champions overcome a stubborn fightback from Italy to get their quest for a record third straight Six Nations title off to a winning start.

The Italians twice closed the gap to within one converted try either side of the interval but England strolled to a 46-15 triumph at the Stadio Olimpico.

Stiffer tests will come for England during the five-match competition and captain Hartley was encouraged by his side’s relaxed approach to opposition pressure.

The 31-year-old said: “The way we prepare, we never felt we were out of control. I have complete trust and confidence in my team. We train hard at game intensity. There were times in the game where it got intense, and we reacted really well.

“There’s still room to improve. We want to gain dominance every time.”

Italy have now failed to win in 13 Six Nations matches, with their only win in as many games coming against Fiji last November.

However, the inexperienced squad caused England problems for more than an hour and coach Conor O’Shea was encouraged by another “step forward”.

O’Shea, who confirmed captain and record appearance maker Sergio Parese suffered an injury concern late in the match, said: “I’m proud and angry.

“We can see a team that has a lot of potential for the future. We played some very good rugby against a great side but we didn’t do everything that we can control out there.

“England are a very good team, No 2 in the world, and we caused them a lot of problems,” said O’Shea.

“But we lost and that’s another statistic. We are still developing as a team and we must continue to take risks.”