England secure bonus-point win in Italy
SIX NATIONS REPORT: Ben Youngs touched down twice as five-try England beat Italy 34-5 in Rome.
Youngs marked his 100th England cap with tries at the start of either half with Jamie George, Tom Curry and Henry Slade adding three more in the second half to secure a bonus-point win.
England needed the result of France versus Ireland in Paris later on Saturday to go their way to win their first Six Nations title since 2017.
And it happened with France beating Ireland 35-27.
“We’ve done our job, really, we’ll wait and see now,” said captain Owen Farrell before the match in Paris.
Ireland needed to beat the French by more than six points to win the title, while France needed a bonus-point and a 32-point winning margin to win it.
“We started the game well,” said Farrell.
“I thought we went at them. But there was a large chunk of the first half when we couldn’t get our hands on the ball, and we couldn’t get our game on the field.
“We went in at half-time and we got the job done in the end. We’ll watch the game [in Paris] and we’ll see what happens.”
England piled on early pressure for 10 unanswered points in the first quarter of an hour.
But Franco Smith’s side gave a spirited fightback with Jake Polledri touching down after 18 minutes with the score 10-5 at the break.
Farrell made the early break off a Mako Vunipola pass, powering through the Italian defensive line.
The Saracens flyhalf passed for Youngs to run it in under the posts and then converted before adding a penalty.
England looked to be hitting their stride as they chased a bonus-point victory, but signs of rustiness showed in their first game since the seven-month lockdown.
When Bristol prop Kyle Sinckler spilled the ball, Carlo Canna pounced and fed Polledri who outpaced the covering defence to dot down for a superb try in the the left corner.
But 20-year-old Paolo Garbisi, who scored 12 of Italy’s 17 points on his debut in the defeat by Ireland last weekend, missed the conversion.
Eddie Jones’ side were down a man when Exeter lock Jonny Hill was sin-binned for a high swinging arm hit on Italy wing Edoardo Padovani.
A dogged Italy performance gave the Azzurri 54 percent of possession in the first half.
But the hosts in turn were down to 14 men after Gloucester backrower Polledri was sin-binned at the start of the second half.
England powered back after the break with Youngs dummying to scamper away from a ruck to grab his second within the first minute, Farrell converting.
Hooker George marked his 50th appearance for England by being driven over for his team’s third after 52 minutes.
Curry made the most of a blindside gap to ensure a bonus point with England’s fourth try after 67 minutes, with Slade adding a fifth five minutes later off a slick Ben Earl offload.
The Italians, who have not won a match in the tournament since 2015, take the wooden spoon for the fifth consecutive time.
Tries: Youngs 2, George, Curry, Slade
Cons: Farrell 3
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Eduardo Padovani, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Jake Polledri, 7 Braam Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Niccolo Cannone, 4 Marco Lazzaroni, 3 Giosue Zilocchi, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Danillo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Simone Ferrari, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Dave Sisi, 20 Johan Meyer, 21 Maxime Mbanda, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Federico Mori.
England: 15 George Furbank, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Henry Slade, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Tom Dunn, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ollie Lawrence, 23 Ollie Thorley.
Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)
Assistant referees: Alex Ruiz (France), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: Romain Poite (France)