England blank hapless Italy
MATCH REPORT: England ran in four tries to beat Italy 37-0 in both sides’ final World Cup warm-up game at St. James’ Park.
England were subdued by strong Italian defending in a tight opening half but powered away and proved too strong in the second as Ben Youngs, Ellis Genge, Joe Marchant and Anthony Watson all went over the chalk.
Centre Marchant, who got his chance with Henry Slade and Jonathan Joseph under treatment and coach Eddie Jones reluctant to expose Manu Tuilagi to the risk of injury, scored an outstanding try in Newcastle.
England’s first home game away from Twickenham since 2015 was initially a low-key affair, with the big St James’s Park crowd unimpressed by their first-half performance but Marchant’s solo try after 53 minutes gave them something to cheer.
It was only 9-0 at half-time but England ran in four second-half tries in total to run out comfortable winners.
“I thought our attitude and the way we stuck at it was brilliant,” said England captain Owen Farrell.
“Our execution could be much better so there is still more to come from us. The squad is in a good place.
“Everybody has added to this group. We are looking forward to getting out there (Japan) now.”
England have never lost to Italy and Conor O’Shea’s men, who were without a rested skipper Sergio Parisse, never looked like breaking their duck as they concluded their World Cup build-up in untidy fashion.
For England it was job done, as Jones’s men followed up victories over Wales and Ireland with a competent display against the limited Azzurri to offset their narrow defeat in Cardiff.
Jones fielded 20 members of his 31-strong World Cup party that will fly out to Japan on Sunday and he will be anxious to check on the fitness of lock Joe Launchbury after he limped out of the action six minutes before half-time.
It was a disjointed first-half performance from the home side and the fans demonstrated their frustration with boos as Farrell lined up his third penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time, which gave his side a 9-0 lead.
Five minutes into the second half Ben Youngs went over from the base of a ruck for the opening try, which followed a strong surge from replacement prop Kyle Sinckler.
Eight minutes later Marchant took Youngs’ short pass to blow a hole in the Azzurri defence and easily rounded fullback Jayden Hayward.
That broke Italy’s spirit as England cut loose in the last 15 minutes to make their obvious superiority tell on the scoreboard.
Impressive prop Ellis Genge was on the end of a rolling maul to touch down while Farrell got full-back Anthony Watson romping through a gap for England’s fourth try and the skipper kicked his seventh goal from eight attempts to wrap up the scoring.
Tries: Youngs, Marchant, Genge, Watson
Cons: Farrell 4
Pens: Farrell 3
England: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Joe Marchant, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Mark Wilson, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 George Ford, 23 Joe Cokanasiga.
Italy: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Benvenuti, 11 Edoardo Padovani, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Jimmy Tuivaiti, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Dean Budd (captain), 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Nicola Quaglio.
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Alessandro Zanni, 21 Maxime Mbanda, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Tommaso Allan.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Frank Murphy (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)