Six Nations 2016: Italy 9-40 England

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer
Highlights: Italy 9-40 England
RBS Six Nations
Italy (9) 9
Pens: Canna 3
England (11) 40
Tries: Ford, Joseph 3, Farrell Pens: Farrell 2, Ford Cons: Farrell 2

Eddie Jones's unbeaten start to his England coaching career continued with a win over Italy in Rome that started slowly but ended at pace.

A disjointed first half was enlivened by George Ford's try off turnover possession, although Carlo Canna's boot kept the Azzurri within a score.

But two quick tries from Jonathan Joseph, his fifth and sixth in his past seven Six Nations matches, calmed English anxieties.

And the Bath centre completed his hat-trick with a powerful run into the left-hand corner before Owen Farrell gathered Jamie George's classy offload to score England's fifth try.

Six Nations table

Having beaten the two traditionally weakest nations, England now face the sterner test of Ireland in a fortnight before Wales come calling two weeks further on.

But with their next two matches at home they have the opportunity to build on these early if predictable successes and lay down the blueprint for what a Jones team will really look like.

Ford and Farrell establish lead

George Ford set England on their way with a well-worked first-half try
Fly-half George Ford set England on their way with a well-worked first-half try

After an early exchange of penalties in a messy opening period, England opened a lead when Mike Brown won a turnover in the Italy 22, Billy Vunipola's smart inside pass finding Ben Youngs down the left and Farrell spotting Ford free on the wing for the fly-half to slide over for his first international try away from home.

Farrell had been off for a head injury assessment, forcing a comprehensive if brief reshuffle of the back line, but it was Italian injuries that really began to count - Marco Fuser, Alessandro Zanni and Gonzalo Garcia all being replaced in the first half-hour.

Canna's third penalty narrowed the visitors' lead to just two points at half-time, not quite the "good hiding" that coach Jones had asked for in the build-up.

Joseph takes charge

Jonathan Joseph scores his third try in England's win over Italy
Jonathan Joseph's hat-trick came when he forced his way over despite the attentions of several Italian defenders

England were looking to put the Italian back three under pressure with high kicks but just as last weekend at Murrayfield, silly mistakes and infringements slowed their momentum.

There was limited sign of the fluency Jones had hoped for, and had Canna not hooked a kickable penalty England would have trailed after 50 minutes.

Instead Italy gifted them a second try, Leonardo Sarto's looping, obvious pass on his own 22 picked off by the predatory Joseph for his sixth try in 18 caps.

With Danny Care on for Youngs, Joe Marler for Mako Vunipola and the highly-rated Maro Itoje on for his debut at blind-side flanker, at last the points and panache followed.

Care's cute grubber off a 10-man rolling maul was gathered by Joseph for his second, and with 20-year-old Paul Hill a second debutant off the bench, England's forward power enabled them to take a tighter grip.

Joseph fought through three tackles to score in the left-hand corner off more turnover ball and Care fed George who popped a pass out of contact to Farrell as a tiring Italy fell away.

Man of match: Jonathan Joseph

It might be just two matches since an England player last grabbed a Test hat-trick - both Nick Easter and Jack Nowell scored three against Uruguay - but Joseph confirmed his value to England with three contrasting yet equally impressive scores.

Italy: McLean; L Sarto, Campagnaro, Garcia, Bellini; Canna, Gori; Lovotti, Gega, Cittadini, Biagi, Fuser, Minto, Zanni, Parisse.

Replacements: Pratichetti for Garcia (32), Padovani for Canna (60), Palazzani for Gori (75), Zanusso for Lovotti (62), Giazzon for Gega (41), Castrogiovanni for Cittadini (58), Bernabo for Fuser (14), Steyn for Zanni (30).

England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Goode for Brown (69), Care for Youngs (49), Marler for M. Vunipola (47), George for Hartley (69), P Hill for Cole (69), Launchbury for Lawes (47), Clifford for Robshaw (62), Itoje for Haskell (54).

Ref: Glen Jackson (New Zealand).

Match stats
4 (1)Scrums won (lost)7 (0)
17 (2)Line-outs won (lost)9 (4)
9Pens conceded13
102 (5)Rucks/mauls won (lost)55 (4)
30Kicks from hand28
79 (13)Tackles made (missed)134 (11)
265Metres made432
1Line breaks7


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