England recovered to defeat a youthful Italy 41-18 to earn their first win of the Six Nations.
The visitors, who have lost each of their last 28 matches in the tournament, took the lead with a Monty Ioane try after just three minutes but the reigning champions bounced back.
Jonny Hill, Anthony Watson and Jonny May each scored to close out the first half, before Watson got his second – and 20th at international level – as he returned an interception for over 50 meters.
Jack Willis scored seconds into his Six Nations debut while Elliot Daly extended the lead moments after a Tommaso Allan try for Italy.
England face Wales in two weeks in their next fixture of the tournament, and the Welsh will hope to maintain a winning start to the Six Nations when they face Scotland today. Meanwhile, Italy host the team that fell to Wales last week, Ireland, on the 27th February in their next match. Here are our ratings:
15. Elliot Daly – 6. The England full back struggled immensely in the first half, conceding early penalties while throwing some dodgy passes. Improved in the second half, capped by his try.
14. Anthony Watson – 9. The winger was by England’s most dangerous player in the opening exchanges, and he strolled in for their second try after a nice juke.
13. Henry Slade – 6. Drove well and almost got a try for himself, but he was well stopped by the Italian defence. A better pass to May could have seen another England try.
12. Owen Farrell – 6. Farrell’s kicking was particularly poor today, as he allowed the Italian charge to put him off, and he fumbled several passes. Not his finest outing.
11. Jonny May – 9. He did well to create the opening try for England, and his tireless running and willingness to press forward propelled the home side. His spectacular diving try to close the first half was world class.
10. George Ford – 7. He grew into the game as it went on, excellently placing some territory kicks.
9. Ben Youngs – 5. The scrum half struggled to get up to speed as Italy flew out of the blocks.
1. Mako Vunipola – 7. A solid outing for Vunipola as England’s front row overwhelmed the Italians, but he injured his ankle and was withdrawn.
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie – 7. He showed off his strength and power to break inside the Italian 22 early in the second half, and generally had a good game.
3. Kyle Sinckler – 6. A steady performance from Sinckler, who helpe
4. Maro Itoje – 6. A quiet day for the Saracens star, who was largely irrelevant throughout.
5. Jonny Hill – 8. Hill may have had his knees down as he went over for his first England try, but he certainly won’t care. His passing and offloading in open play was excellent, and he made several quality turnovers.
6. Courtney Lawes – 7. Lawes was solid for England in the lineout and the breakdown, allowing the home side to maintain shape and keep possession.
7. Tom Curry – 7. An innocuous game for Curry, who did the dirty work well.
8. Billy Vunipola – 6. He was slow and generally didn’t look up to match speed – which makes sense as he was out for several months.
Dan Robson – 7. Kicked several clearances well and showed some terrific ingenuity to take a dead ball quickly, which set up the try for Jack Willis. His energy was needed.
Ellis Genge – 6.
Charlie Ewels – 6.
Jack Willis – 7. He was on the pitch for just seconds before finding space to score, and was forced off due to a gruesome injury.
Will Stuart – 6.
15. Jacopo Trulla – 7. He made some bright runs through the England defence and offloaded well.
14. Luca Sperandio – 5. Sperandio ran forward to support Ioane in the second half, but it was a quiet outing for the winger.
13. Juan Ignacio – 5. Completely anonymous for Italy.
12. Carlo Canna – 6. He made a few tough tackles, but struggled to make a real impact offensively.
11. Monty Ioane – 7. Broke away well to score the opening try of the game after three minutes. He made a fine burst to open the second half as well, and was dangerous in possession throughout.
10. Paolo Garbisi - 5. His kicks were poor today, allowing England to relentlessly attack the visitors.
9. Stephen Varney – 7. The 19-year-old did several long defensive kicks and showed off his passing early on, but his influence waned as England grew into the game.
1. Andrea Lovotti – 6. Anonymous, and generally overwhelmed.
2. Luca Bigi – 5. After a strong start, the Italian front row struggled to get a foothold in the game as England dominated.
3. Marco Riccioni – 5. Riccioni could not deal with Hill as England’s front row took control.
4. Marco Lazzaroni – 5. Anonymous.
5. Dave Sisi – 6. Made several huge tackles to frustrate England.
6. Sebastian Negri – 5. He was particularly anonymous today, and struggled to make an impact on the game.
7. Johan Meyer – 8. He was one of Italy’s bright sparks and arguably was perhaps their best player.
8. Michele Lamaro – 7. Lamaro did an intelligent offload to help create Ioane’s try.
Federico Ruzza – 6.
Tommaso Allan – 7. In his first possession, Italy cut England apart and Allan rolled in to score.
Federico Mori – 6. Offloaded well to assist the Allan score.
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