LONDON - England came through a huge scare to keep their grand slam hopes alive with an unconvincing 18-11 victory over Italy in the Six Nations Championship at Twickenham on Sunday.
When Italy scored the only try of the match, through Australia-born wing Luke McLean in the 49th minute, they cut England's lead to 15-11.
But England, with recalled fly-half Toby Flood kicking all of the hosts' points courtesy of six penalties, hung on to set up a title-decider away to champions Wales on Saturday.
A Wales win at the Millennium Stadium will deny England a first Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003 and if the defending champions triumph by eight points or more they will also take the title.
Were Wales to win by seven points, the Championship would be decided on try count, with the Welsh currently two tries better off than England.
"I'm disappointed we weren't quite accurate enough, we let the control slip in the second half and Italy pushed us right to the end," said relieved England coach Stuart Lancaster.
Italy's display was all the more creditable as it followed two heavy defeats by Scotland (10-34) and Wales (9-26).
"It was a very good performance, we came from two poor games and we played better rugby with much more physicality," said impressive Azzurri fullback Andrea Masi.
England kicked-off having won all their previous 18 Tests against Italy.