Spirited Italy Eventually Outclassed By England In Six Nations Opener

Hope Soto
February 5, 2018

England's quest for an unprecedented hat-trick of Six Nations titles was launched by a 46-15 victory over Italy that produced a late flurry of tries.

Italy recovered to be 17-10 down at the break only for England to pull away in the second half.

Italy had a record of 23 straight defeats against England going into the game.

Asked about Simmonds, Jones said: "When the game opened up he was in his element".

"It was a tough game of rugby but we ran away with it in the end". "He's got gas. He does all our speed work with the backs".

Italy mentor Conor O'Shea has named a side including a few unpracticed players.

"I hope we play well", Jones said at his Friday press conference. "I'm energised because I know we're making progress".

England have won all 23 of their previous meetings with Italy, averaging 40 points a game, though they had something of a scare at Twickenham past year when they struggled to deal with the Italians' surprise "no ruck" tactics before coming from behind at halftime to emerge 36-15 winners. Ben Te'o has made a quick return to fitness following an ankle injury and is preferred at centre, alongside Owen Farrell, to Jonathan Joseph.

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Te'o linked with a looping George Ford and Jonny May made the extra man by coming across from the left wing before sending in right wing Watson.

From the moment Watson ran in the opening try after 172 seconds, a 24th victory over Italy looked assured.

Farrell again missed, this time sending his kick wide of the left. With Italy's defence at sixes and sevens, Farrell scooted through a big hole from Ford's soft hands to score his sixth try in 54 Tests. England will be expected to win, Italy to lose, just as they have on every occasion of this fixture.

There was still time for the sort of fast finish which has become England's trademark as the sprinkles were applied to the gelato.

Early in the second period, Watson squandered a hat-trick chance when he lost possession grounding the ball, although Farrell nudged England further ahead with a penalty.

Tommaso Boni had earlier seen a try disallowed for Italy due to a forward pass when England's lead stood at just 20-10, to relief in the Red Rose ranks.

Jones has expressed his doubts whether Simmonds is big enough to play at No 8 on the worldwide stage, yet has been forced to pick him their this weekend as both Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes are sidelined with long-term injures.

Farrell converted but Italy, to their credit, hit back when Bellini squeezed in at the corner. Anthony Watson took his two first-half tries extremely well, while he was given a run at fullback late on, and seven-try victories are not to be taken for granted in worldwide rugby.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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