England 57-14 Italy: Eddie Jones' side crush Azzurri at Twickenham
Last Updated: 09/03/19 10:19pm
England kept their Six Nations title ambitions alive with a comprehensive 57-14 victory over Italy at Twickenham.
England are still in the hunt for the championship ahead of their round-five clash with Scotland. However, they will need Ireland to do them a favour next week, after Wales' victory at Murrayfield on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Italy's winless run in the championship continues, stretching back to 2015.
England took the game to the visitors in the early stages, as Joe Cokanasiga immediately looked threatening, fielding a high crossfield kick from Owen Farrell.
While they spurned early opportunities, it didn't take long for a breakthrough. The English pack mauled their way over from a line-out, with Jamie George on hand to open their account.
While a piece of individual brilliance from Tommaso Allan did drag the Azzurri level, England's dominance was beginning to show.
Elliot Daly broke the line before feeding the ball to Jonny May to cross for a try. Shortly afterwards, the brilliant Manu Tuilagi ran over Angelo Esposito with open field ahead to score England's third try. The giant centre then turned provider on the 30-minute mark, passing to Brad Shields who wrapped up the bonus point before half-time.
Owen Farrell was flawless from the kicking tee as England went in at the break 31-7 to the good.
Things looked ominous for Conor O'Shea's side in the second half when Tuilagi ran over for England's fifth. However, to Italy's credit, they continued to battle, hitting back as Luca Morisi went over in the corner, as the Italians frustrated their hosts.
As the sting appeared to be disappearing from the English attack, George Kruis blocked down and chased the ball up to score just his second international try.
Dan Robson then got in on the scoring act, with substitute George Ford nailing the conversion to seal England's half-century.
Shields then got his second try, as another Kruis charge-down gifted him the score.
England: 15 Daly (7), 14 Cokanasiga (9), 13 Tuilagi (9), 12 Te'o (7), 11 May (7), 10 Farrell (8), 9 Youngs (7); 1 Genge (7), 2 George (7), 3 Sinckler (7); 4 Launchbury (7), 5 Kruis (8), 6 Shields (8), 7 Curry (7), 8 Vunipola (7).
Subs: 16 Cowan-Dickie (6), 17 Moon (6), 18 Cole (6), 20 Wilson (6), 21 Robson (7), 22 Ford (7), 23 Slade (6).
Italy: 15 Hayward (6), 14 Padovani (5), 13 Campagnaro (4), 12 Morisi (6), 11 Esposito (4), 10 Allan (7), 9 Tebaldi (6); 1 Lovotti (6), 2 Bigi (6), 3 Ferrari (6), 4 Ruzza (5), 5 Budd (6), 6 Da Oleggio (6), 7 Steyn (5), 8 Parisse (7) .
Subs: 16 Ghiraldini (6), 17 Traore (6), 18 Pasquali (6), 19 Sisi (6), 20 Polledri (6), 21 Palazzani (6), 22 McKinley (6)
Man of the match: Joe Cokanasiga
Tuilagi and Cokanasiga were the standout performers, tormenting the Italians throughout the game.
The Leicester Tigers centre showed he is back to his brilliant best with a powerful performance. Raw strength saw him batter the Italian line, while his grace and guile ensured he pulled the strings for an awesome English attack.
Meanwhile, Cokanasiga was lively from the word go, showing a creative spark with eye-catching offloads.
Italy were their own worst enemy at times. Their defensive frailties came from a mixture of individual errors and collective incohesion.
The rampant English back line found it too easy to find gaps in the Italian line. When there were no holes, Tuilagi and Co were able to punch them.
Italy's search for a win in the Six Nations goes on, and it's not going to stop anytime soon unless they address their problems when playing without the ball.