Six Nations

Watson, Simmonds star as England down Italy

2018-02-04 20:03
Anthony Watson (AP)

Rome - Anthony Watson and Sam Simmonds both scored two tries as England launched their bid for an unprecedented third outright Six Nations title with a 46-15 win away to Italy at Rome's Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

As it happened: England v Italy

England scored seven tries in total, Watson crossing twice early on.

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

Victory meant England have won all 24 of their Tests against Italy, with the Azzurri's losing streak in the Six Nations extended to 13 matches.

"It was very positive," England coach Eddie Jones told ITV.

"We knew that they were going to hang in there, but we ran away with it in the end.

"Sam Simmonds came into his own when the game opened up," explained the Australian, who has now won 23 of his 24 Tests in charge of England.

"He has so much gas, he does his speed work with the backs."

There were mixed emotions for Italy coach Conor O'Shea after a promising display again ended in a thumping Italy defeat.

"We played some excellent rugby and contributed to an entertaining game, but I'm proud and annoyed," he said.

"We know we're off in certain areas and the progress we need to make. But we're making it," the former Ireland fullback added.

An injury-hit England took just three minutes to open the scoring.

England won a scrum penalty which Owen Farrell kicked deep into Italy territory to give England an attacking line-out.

They won quick ball off the top and recalled centre Ben Te'o ran hard at the Italian midfield.

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.

Farrell's difficult conversion from the right touchline hit the post and stayed out.

England suffered a setback, however, 10 minutes into the match when scrumhalf Ben Youngs went off injured.

But Watson soon had his second try, with Ford on the loop and May cutting across again.

This time Watson grounded the ball despite opposing wing Tommaso Benvenuti's attempt to illegally shove him into touch.

Farrell again missed the conversion, although this time the ball sailed past the far post.

Italy though hit back with a 20th-minute try.

Outside centre Tommaso Boni and wing Mattia Bellini made ground down the left before the ball was worked across field, where flyhalf Tommaso Allan's excellent cut-out pass sent Benvenuti in at the right corner.

Allan converted and Italy were just 10-7 down.

But minutes later England had restored their 10-point lead.

Props Mako Vunipola and Dan Cole both made ground before replacement scrumhalf Danny Care fed Farrell, who went in under the posts. This time the centre converted and England led 17-7.

Late in the first half, Allan kicked a penalty to cut England's advantage at the break to 17-10.

But the question now was would Italy, as so often in the past, fade badly in the second half?

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.

Italy thought they had hit back with a try from Boni but his score was ruled out on video review for a forward pass by Allan.

England then capitalised when No 8 Simmonds, only starting because of injuries to Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes, marked his Six Nations debut with a try when he burst through yet more poor tackling off the back of a line-out.

Farrell converted but Italy, to their credit, hit back when Bellini squeezed in at the corner.

Allan missed the conversion and England led 27-15 heading into the final quarter.

England put the result beyond all doubt when Farrell and Ford, friends since their schooldays, linked well for a 68th-minute try by the flyhalf.

And there was still time for Simmonds and replacement Jack Nowell to cross against a tiring Italy.

Read more on:    england  |  italy  |  six nations  |  rugby

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