London - Manu
Tuilagi scored his first Test tries in five years as England thrashed
Italy 57-14 at Twickenham on Saturday to maintain their Six Nations
The rampaging centre, whose career has been blighted by injuries,
crossed twice as England ran in eight tries in total against perennial
strugglers Italy, for whom this was a 21st successive defeat in the Six
England will, however, need Grand Slam-chasing Wales to slip-up
against Ireland next weekend before they themselves kick-off against
Scotland - beaten 18-11 by Wales at Murrayfield earlier on Saturday -
if they are to still have a chance of claiming the Championship.
The match was over as a contest before half-time, with Tuilagi
scoring one of England's four tries as they secured a bonus point in
just the 32nd minute.
Before the match, Tuilagi had said one job for England's inside backs was to give recalled wing Joe Cokanasiga the ball.
They did just that with Cokanasiga, making 108 metres, five clean
breaks and two offloads in a man-of-the-match display as England bounced
back from a 21-13 defeat by Wales in style.
"I just wanted to take this opportunity with both hands," said Cokanasiga.
England coach Eddie Jones added: "We used the whole 23 today, we
could have used the finishers (replacements) better against Wales, and
that was my fault, but they all made a contribution today."
Jones had deliberately selected a hugely powerful backline, pairing
Ben Te'o and Tuilagi in midfield as well as recalling Cokanasiga.
Italy, to their credit, were briefly level at 7-7 thanks to flyhalf Tommaso Allan converting his own try.
But there was a reason the Azzurri, who've now lost all 25 of their
Tests against England, were 60/1 outsiders and from then on it was
largely one-way traffic.
"It was difficult," Italy coach Conor O'Shea told the BBC.
"That was an incredibly powerful England performance."
England, dominating territory from the start, opened the scoring in
the eighth minute when hooker Jamie George was driven over from a
Italy then stunned a capacity Twickenham crowd of over 82 000 with a
well-worked score that saw Allan, breaking through a tackle by England
scrumhalf Ben Youngs on the blind side for a try he converted.
Minutes later, however, England were 14-7 ahead after fullback
Elliot Daly sent Jonny May in for the wing's fifth try in four Tests.
Tuilagi, renowned as a powerful ball-carrier, then burst through
Italy wing Angelo Esposito's tackle and handed off centre Michele
Campagnaro before running in from 34 metres for his first England try
since one against Italy in 2014.
Flyhalf Owen Farrell, who converted that try as well, then found
himself in the unusual position of being booed at Twickenham when he
opted to kick, rather than run a penalty that extended the lead to 24-7.
A full Test was assuming the
air of a match involving the Barbarians, where both teams are expected
to run the ball come what may.
Tuilagi then turned provider, with another strong run before a
well-timed inside pass to Brad Shields saw the back-row score his first
But Italy captain Sergio Parisse was continuing to drive hard despite
the scoreline, the No 8 returning for his 137th Test after missing the
defeat by Ireland with concussion.
Front-rower George produced a cut-out pass worthy of a silky
midfielder to send Tuilagi in for his second try in the 47th minute.
Farrell, for once, missed the conversion but it scarcely mattered.
Italy managed a second try when Luca Morisi went over in the 54th minute, Allan again converting.
But England were not done, George Kruis charging down fullback
Jayden Hayward's kick for a 64th-minute try converted by George Ford,
one of a stream of replacements.
Reserve scrumhalf Dan Robson then scored his first Test try before
another charge down saw Shields grab his second touchdown of the game.