|England: (20) 41|
|Essay: Hill, Watson 2, May, Willis, Daly; Pen: Farrell; Contra: Farrell 4|
|Italy: (8) 18|
|Essay: John, Allan; Pens: Garbisi 2; Contra: Garbisi|
After losing against Scotland last weekend, England put in a solid attacking performance to beat Italy.
Monty Euan’s early try caused an upset at Twickenham before England’s Jonny Hill and Anthony Watson equalized.
Wing Johnny May ends the first half with a spectacular jump from the tackle.
After the break, an impressive interception attempt by Watson sealed the bonus point for the defending champions.
Substitute Jack Willis scored from close range, but had to be put on the stretcher almost immediately after injuring his knee.
Substitute Tommaso Allan added a second try for Italy before Elliot Daly sealed victory for England, giving fans some comfort after last weekend’s surprising defeat.
England are now hoping that Wales beat Scotland or Ireland beat France in their other two games this weekend to regain the title.
Exciting. Maybe try to end the first half on a high note.
Before the match, there was talk that England needed to put in a good performance to bounce back from the defeat against Scotland, with 28th place in good form.
Italy’s head coach Franco Smith is building for the future with a youth team led by scrum half Stephen Varney, 19, and opening half Paolo Garbisi, 20.
England head coach Eddie Jones saw it differently. He left Ollie Lawrence’s cross out of play and left Harry Randall scrumhalf of Paolo Odogwu to make his debut in the lightest match of the Six Nations.
Initially it looked like the youngsters would win the day, as after several phases of lively attacking play with Welshman Warney in the eye of the storm, the Italians took a surprising lead.
Garbisi sent the ball down the left side to full-back Jacopo Trulla, who passed the ball to Daly, who headed Ioane into the left corner three minutes later.
England seemed to have awoken from their slumber after the restart. The ball was put aside on the left wing, but the space for May on the left wing was wasted when Daly’s pass arrived.
Owen Farrell brought Italy back to within two points with a penalty kick in front of the posts, before Henry Slade’s cross secured his place as Jones’ replacement in midfield.
The kick was intercepted by George Ford and Itoje took the ball a few meters from the line, but it was compatriot Hill who finally made his first international try from close range.
Last weekend, England failed to draw a single line against Scotland, and this time Watson seemed determined to change the action around him, slashing down the wing to work his way through the Blues’ wall.
His effort was dashed when hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie – along with Jamie George – was penalized for the breakdown and Garbisi equalized.
Slade again set Twickenham ablaze with his own shots on the ground and on the testing line, but he was unable to finish the job.
England finally got their second try when May’s quick hands released Slade on the left flank and the hosts took the ball on the opposite flank where Watson passed Varney to score.
Jones’ team closed the first half in style when Daly found the free-standing May on the left and the winger leapt over Luca Sperandio’s tackle to score a spectacular touchdown, adding to his earlier score.
Johnny May’s incredible performance was England’s point choice.
Watson’s interception adds up to try to make it count.
Italy were beaten 50-10 by France in their first game, but they were determined not to be beaten. Garbizi’s deep pass allowed Ioane and the winger to enter England and score 22 points.
The visitors had to settle for a penalty kick, which Itoje shot for the posts and gave the Italians an easy three-pointer.
England had rhythm and intensity, but the errors in ball handling, which at the end of the match amounted to 18 against six on the Italian side, continued to pile up and came from unusual sources: half the scrums, Ben Youngs, May and Farrell were all guilty.
Another moment of individual genius allowed Watson to widen the gap on the scoreboard by intercepting a pass from Garbisi and returning to the three-quarter of the field to score the try for the bonus point.
Farrell, who had already received a five-match stadium ban in September 2020 for a highside tackle, was the subject of an official investigation in a televised match for his contact with Varney, but fortunately for the England captain, who had already been hit hard, he was deemed safe.
The home team’s quest continued when scrumhalf Dan Robson – who was replaced by Youngs – showed he was nine years older than his counterpart Varney when he quickly took a penalty kick and ran to the five-yard line.
From then on the forwards took command, Willis took the ball from the base of a ruck and scored. But the deficit was immediately reduced when he had to be taken off the field on a stretcher due to a knee injury, which will keep him out of action for the entire 2018 season.
In temperatures just above freezing at Twickenham, Italy surprised England after halftime and Federico Mori broke through the home defense to give Alan the chance to score as a substitute.
England responded immediately, Robson solidifying his grip on the game with an impressive pass to Daly, who had plenty of room to run for his sixth and final try.
Man of the match: Anthony Watson
Johnny May’s try was by far the most impressive, but man of the match had to go to Anthony Watson who, as if his two tries weren’t enough, scored the eighth after Willis left the field.
“We are ourselves again,” they said.
England captain Owen Farrell told ITV Sport, “It’s not the best performance we’ve ever had, but in terms of energy and willpower, we’re ourselves again.
“We had honest conversations during the week and we worked things out on the training ground. I thought we had attacked the game, that our intentions were brilliant, that we were behind schedule, that things were not going the way we wanted, but we persevered.
Kyle Sinclair, the England pro, told ITV Sport, “It was a step in the right direction, we probably didn’t get the hugs we wanted, but in terms of intention and showing what it means to play for our country, it was a step in the right direction.”
“It was well done” – Analysis.
Former England scrum half Matt Dawson told Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “England must have felt it was a couple of tries but not a clinical performance – it was work.
“There are still inaccuracies and indiscipline. Given the standards they have set, they will want to return to the glory days of 2019. The performance is 7 out of 10”.
Natasha Hunt, England’s World Cup scrum half, told Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “A massive improvement on last weekend and the intensity of what they did, led by Anthony Watson.
“The result of the sanction is something they will definitely look at next week. Against France, Ireland and Wales, they have to withdraw it because they will punish you.”
England: Daly; Watson, Slade, Farrell (Kapitän), May; Ford, Youngs; M. Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Sinclair, Itoje, Hill, Lowes, Curry, B. Vunipola.
Substitutions : George, Genge, Stewart, Ewels, Earl, Willis, Robson, Malins.
Italy: Trulla; Sperandio, Brex, Canna, Ioanna; Garbisi, Varney; Lovotti, Bigi (captain), Riccioni, Lazzaroni, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.
Ersatzspieler : Lucchesi, Fischetti, Zilocchi, Cannone, Ruzza, Palazzani, Allan, Mori.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
England found flashes of attacking flair to bounce back from last weekend’s Scotland defeat and claim a six-try Six Nations win against Italy.
Monty Ioane’s early try caused a scare at Twickenham, before England’s Jonny Hill and Anthony Watson crossed.
Wing Jonny May closed out the first half in style, leaping out of a tackle to touch down in spectacular fashion.
After the break, Watson’s impressive intercept try sealed a bonus point for the defending champions.
Substitute back row Jack Willis scored from short range but was almost immediately carried off the pitch on a stretcher after sustaining a knee injury.
Replacement back Tommaso Allan added a second try for Italy before Elliot Daly crossed for England to seal victory and offer some solace to fans after last weekend’s unexpected loss.
England will now be hoping for a Wales win against Scotland or Irish victory over France in the weekend’s other two fixtures to get their title bid back on track.
Spectacular May try ends first half on a high
All the talk pre-match was about England needing to put in a performance as they looked to recover from a poor showing in defeat to Scotland, with a 28th consecutive win against Italy taken as a given.
Italy head coach Franco Smith is building for the future with a youthful team centred around 19-year-old scrum-half Stephen Varney and 20-year-old fly-half Paolo Garbisi.
England head coach Eddie Jones looked to have different plans, having dropped centre Ollie Lawrence for the game and avoided giving scrum-half Harry Randall or centre Paolo Odogwu a debut in the easiest of the Six Nations fixtures.
Initially it looked as though youth would win the day as, after a few phases of lively attack with Welsh-born Varney in the eye of the storm, the Italians took an unexpected lead.
Garbisi sent the ball left to full-back Jacopo Trulla, who drew in Daly to allow Ioane to cross in the left corner after just three minutes.
After the restart England looked woken from a slumber and they sped the ball left, but room for May on the left wing was wasted as Daly’s pass flew into touch.
Owen Farrell trimmed Italy’s lead to two with a penalty in front of the posts then centre Henry Slade entered the fray, keen to cement his place in Jones’ changing midfield.
His grubber kick was gathered by George Ford and Itoje took the ball to within metres of the tryline but eventually it was fellow lock Hill who went over from close range for his first international try.
England did not make any line breaks against Scotland last weekend and Watson looked fiercely motivated to single-handedly change that this time around, coming in from the wing on an angle to scythe through the wall of blue.
His efforts were wasted as hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie – starting in place of Jamie George – was penalised at the breakdown and Garbisi evened the scores.
Slade injected a bit of fire into the Twickenham chill once more as he chased his own kicks along the floor and across the tryline, but he did not manage to finish the job.
England did eventually get a second try as fast hands from May released Slade on the left wing, then the hosts hurried the ball to the opposite flank where Watson stepped past Varney to score.
And Jones’ side finished the half with aplomb as Daly found May with space on the left and the wing jumped over Luca Sperandio’s tackle for a spectacular touchdown to add to his already packed showreel.
Jonny May’s incredible try was the pick of England’s scores
Watson intercept adds to try tally
Italy had been beaten 50-10 by France in their opening game but were determined to keep themselves in this match as Garbisi’s cross-field kick found Ioane and the wing raced into England’s 22.
The visitors had to settle for a penalty, conceded by Itoje in front of the posts to give Italy’s fly-half an easy three points.
England had pace and intensity but their handling errors – which totalled 18 to Italy’s six by the end of the game – continued to grow and came from unusual sources with scrum-half Ben Youngs, May and Farrell all guilty.
Another moment of individual brilliance furthered their lead on the scoreboard though, as Watson intercepted Garbisi’s pass and covered three quarters of the pitch to score the bonus-point try.
Farrell – who had already served a five-match ban for a high tackle in September 2020 – was the subject of a television match official investigation for his contact on Varney, but fortunately for the already much-scrutinised England captain it was deemed to be safe.
Things continued to look up for the hosts as scrum-half Dan Robson – on as a replacement for Youngs – showed that being nine years senior to his opposite number Varney made him no less spritely as he took a quick penalty and raced up to within five metres of the tryline.
The forwards took on the job from there as Willis picked the ball up from the base of a ruck and scored. But the back row swooped immediately from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows as he was stretchered off with a knee injury – something which kept him out of the game for a whole season in 2018.
With the Twickenham weather hovering just above freezing, Italy caught England cold after the break in play and Federico Mori broke through the hosts’ defence to allow replacement Allan to score.
England responded immediately as Robson furthered his impact on the game with an impressive pass to Daly, who had plenty of room to run in the sixth and final try.
Man of the match: Anthony Watson
Jonny May’s try was undoubtedly the most impressive but man of the match has to go to Anthony Watson who, as if his two tries were not enough, packed down at number eight after Willis left the field.
‘That was back to being us’ – what they said
England captain Owen Farrell told ITV Sport: “Not the best performance we have ever had but in terms of the energy and intent that was back to being us.
“We had some honest conversations in the week, and got things right on the training field. I thought we attacked the game, our intent was brilliant, we got in behind them, not everything went our way but we stuck at it.”
England prop Kyle Sinckler told ITV Sport: “It was a step in the right direction, we probably didn’t get the rewards we wanted but in terms of intent, and showing what it means to play for our country it was a step in the right direction.”
‘It was workmanlike’ – analysis
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson said on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “England probably felt like they were a couple of tries short of a clinical performance – it was workmanlike.
“There are still inaccuracies and indiscipline. Knowing the standards they set, they will want to get back to the glory days of 2019. A seven out of 10 performance.”
World Cup-winning England scrum-half Natasha Hunt said on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: “A huge improvement from last weekend, and also the intensity of what they’ve been doing, led by Anthony Watson.
“The penalty count will be something they definitely will look at next week. Against France, Ireland and Wales they need to get it down because they will punish you.”
England: Daly; Watson, Slade, Farrell (capt), May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Cowan-Dickie, Sinckler, Itoje, Hill, Lawes, Curry, B Vunipola.
Replacements: George, Genge, Stuart, Ewels, Earl, Willis, Robson, Malins.
Italy: Trulla; Sperandio, Brex, Canna, Ioane; Garbisi, Varney; Lovotti, Bigi (capt), Riccioni, Lazzaroni, Sisi, Negri, Meyer, Lamaro.
Replacements: Lucchesi, Fischetti, Zilocchi, Cannone, Ruzza, Palazzani, Allan, Mori.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)