Stuart Lancaster
Lancaster says there is room for improvement for England.Getty Images

England coach Stuart Lancaster has warned his side they must make dramatic improvements if they're to overcome Ireland in a fortnight in a match which is looking increasingly likely to decide the destination of the Six Nations championship.

Italy scored three tries including inside the first four minutes as Sergio Parisse gave the visitors a shock lead, eight days on from Wales opening up a ten-point advantage at the Millennium Stadium eight days ago.

Poor starts to games is becoming an increasing worry for England and Lancaster says his side must cure their achilles heal if they're to prevail in two weeks times at the Aviva Stadium against the reigning champions.

"We have obviously made progress but in order to beat Ireland in Dublin we're going to need to step up again," he said. "We're got a training week this week and then it will all build up to that.

"Lots of areas were good today. I think our scrum was good, our set pieces was good; our maul. We gave a couple of breakdown penalties away which was frustrating and if Johnny Sexton is on he'll bang those over. Overall we have to step up for next week.

"Certainly we want to get out of the hatches and not giving a soft try away at the end of every game because it comes back and hurts you. Winning the toss and kicking to them would be a help. We will be all reminding the players of that."