Eddie Jones’s side defeat the Azzurri 33-0 in their Six Nations match in Rome
Marcus Smith stars in England win over Italy
Italy beat England in the U20 Six Nations on Friday night in Treviso but it was a far more predictable result when the two sides met in the senior championship on Sunday afternoon in Rome.
The Italians had moments in the first half when they stretched the visitors with some clever kicks – Marcus Smith, more known for interventions in attack and later named Player of the Match, had to put in an important tackle on Federico Mori at one point.
And in the second half they had more concerted spells of pressure, taking advantage of England’s penalty count to spend a lot of time in the visitors’ half.
However, a knock-on here or a turnover there meant that they couldn’t capitalise on those opportunities and ultimately didn’t score a single point as England triumphed 33-0.
So England’s winning run against Italy goes on and they remain the only Six Nations side never to lose to the Azzurri. It’s also the first time Italy have failed to score a point against England in the championship.
Eddie Jones had talked of a ‘new England’ in attack before the game and while there wasn’t much fluidity, they were quick and slick enough at times to have wrapped up the bonus point by the 44th minute (Italy’s ill-discipline also playing a part), albeit that the intensity dropped significantly after that.
It was Smith who crossed for the opening try in the tenth minute, linking smartly with Max Malins out wide, to make it two tries in two Six Nations appearances having crossed in the defeat by Scotland last weekend.
As for the bonus-point try, that came soon after half-time and it was Smith who fired out a pinpoint pass to give Elliot Daly the space to run in at the corner.
It was nearly half an hour until England scored again, though, as they had to withstand long periods without the ball. They managed to stop Italy getting over the whitewash and in the 73rd minute they gratefully accepted another scoring opportunity from the hosts.
A Smith high ball was spilled by the Italians, landed in debutant Ollie Chessum’s hands and in the next phase Malins broke towards the line before offloading to Kyle Sinckler for a simple run-in under the posts.
Henry Slade looked to get over for England’s sixth try in the final moments after a strong Sam Simmonds carry, but he lost control of the ball as he tried to ground it.
In the end it was a comfortable victory for England but it was not a dominant performance over the 80 minutes and they are sure to face sterner tests later in championship.
It would be remiss for us not to mention the achievement of Ben Youngs too.
The scrum-half, who has been part of the national set-up since 2010, equalled Jason Leonard’s record of 114 Test appearances for England when he came off the bench, making him the joint most-capped men’s player for his country.
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