Wilkinson became the leading scorer in Five/Six Nations history with his personal haul of 15 against Italy, passing former Wales flyhalf Neil Jenkins to a record 409 points, eventually finishing the match on 421.
England showed little of the attacking enterprise seen against Scotland last week, as a stubborn Italy, who have not won a match in the competition since 2004, gave a much improved performance after losing 39-3 against France in Rome last Saturday.
Winger Jason Robinson scored England's only try after gathering Andy Farrell's loose pass on the bounce to end an error-ridden first half with the home side leading 14-0, before Wilkinson added another penalty 15 minutes into the second half to make it 17-0.
Italy then scored a deserved try after breaking well from inside their own half, exposing England’s lack of defenders as flyhalf Andrea Scanavacca took the ball from the back of a ruck and went through to score unchallenged from 10 metres out.
Scanavacca converted his own try to put the Italians within 10 points before Wilkinson’s boot sealed the match with another penalty five minutes from time.
"With our pride, our potential we have shown we can be a very strong team," Alessandro Troncon, Italy's veteran scrumhalf, told BBC Sport.
"Maybe we should have played a bit more (open rugby)... We played a very structured game which was our goal."
Paterson's magnificent seven
Meanwhile at Murrayfield, Scotland captain Chris Paterson kicked seven penalty goals from seven attempts as his side scrapped out a 21-9 victory over the winless Wales with Welsh flyhalf Stephen Jones kicking three penalties for his team.
|Scotland's Sean Lamont takes the Braveheart |
analogy a little too far [GALLO/GETTY]
The Welsh were unable to unleash their talented backline as the Scotland forwards dominated the battle of the two packs, with the visitors now effectively out of contention following their loss to Ireland last week coupled with this defeat.
In damp and bitterly cold conditions, an open game was never on the cards as the home side went out to an early 6-0 lead with two well taken penalties from Paterson allowing them to claim the upper hand.
Jones reduced the lead with a 25th-minute penalty, and despite plenty of quality possession deep in Scotland territory, the Welsh struggled to get their back line into gear.
Paterson and Jones exchanged penalties to make it 9-6 at halftime, before Scotland kicked away to take a valuable two points, and condemn Wales to the bottom of the table with Italy.