The 21-year-old wing was at his swashbuckling best as England scored eight tries.
Joe Cokanasiga entertains as England crush Italy
England routed Italy 57-14, scoring eight tries along the way to a hefty Six Nations victory. However, it was a man who did not make it onto the score sheet who had fans raving after the match.
The 21-year-old wing Joe Cokanasiga was given man of the match after a swashbuckling display that saw him busting tackles while carrying the ball in one hand, stealing balls out the air and setting up a try for Dan Robson after burning around Federico Ruzza in the second half.
He even did a headstand on the touchline after slipping the ball to Robson. Oh yeah, and he packed down at No 8 at one point.
England opened the scoring with Jamie George going over from a driving maul. Italy ten Tommaso Allan scored and converted his try to make it 14-14, but England were in control for the rest of the match. Cokanasiga was not the only one entertaining, with Manu Tuilagi getting a brace, Brad Shields dotting down twice, George Kruis charging down and scoring, Jonny May getting on the end of a score and Robson’s try mentioned above.
Italy got one other try in the second half, through centre Luca Morisi.
After the game, Eddie Jones talked about the impact of Tuilagi – praising Leicester for helping him get back to his best and joking that he’d taken the centre’s passport so he couldn’t head over to France to meet Racing 92, who he has been linked to recently.
Tuilagi was at his bruising best against Italy. His first try was a 55m run-in after bursting past Angelo Esposito and Michele Campagnaro.
His second was from him getting on the end of a long George pass. And he also created Shields’ first score with another break.
It was a physical, hard-running performance from England. They are still in the running to win the Six Nations, but if they beat Scotland, they will also depend on the result from Wales versus Ireland next week, with the Welsh chasing a Grand Slam.
Ominously, Jones said of the game next week against Scotland, who won the Calcutta Cup last season: “That (facing England) is their game of the year. Look at the way they carried on last year.
“Some have short memories, some have long memories. I remember everything that they said last year.”
He also had a small word of caution as others prepared to praise Cokanasiga.
Asked about the unpredictable wing’s tendency to carry in one hand, the coach said after a short pause: “That stuffs great for you guys… but possibly he could carry in two hands at other times.”