Match Report – Italy 5 – 34 England

England moved into pole position in the Six Nations title race after a 34-5 win over Italy in Rome.

Having held an unimpressive 10-5 lead at the interval, England improved in the second half to score four tries and move top of the table.

  • Wales 10-14 Scotland
  • Six Nations table

Test centurion Ben Youngs crossed for tries at the start of both halves while Jamie George scored on his 50th England appearance.

Tom Curry grabbed the bonus-point try with 13 minutes remaining before Henry Slade added a fifth to improve England’s scoring difference.

Ireland can snatch the title from England’s grasp if they claim a bonus-point win over France or win by a margin of seven points or more.

Les Bleus could also win the title if they beat Ireland by 32 points and also pick up a bonus point.

It took only four minutes for England to break the home defence, Mako Vunipola standing at first receiver and sending Owen Farrell into a gap until Youngs appeared on his shoulder to finish the move.

Farrell added a penalty to make it 10-0 after 13 minutes but the floodgates never opened.

Instead, Italy came roaring back into the contest when Carlo Canno pounced upon a handling error by Kyle Sinckler and fed Gloucester No 8 Jake Polledri, who beat four England defenders as he cantered over in the corner.

Another setback came in the 23rd minute when debutant Jonny Hill was sin-binned for a high tackle, while further indiscipline allowed Italy to build pressure.

Italy were also reduced to 14 men towards the end of the half when Polledri cynically halted a driving maul, but just as England began to hammer away from close range, they conceded a penalty and Italy escaped.

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Youngs extended England’s lead 56 seconds into the second half when Hill charged down a box kick and Maro Itoje secured the loose ball.

George celebrated his half-century with a try from a driving maul and the bonus-point try arrived with 13 minutes remaining when Curry took advantage of an unguarded blindside.

Slade punished an absent Azzurri defence to extend England’s lead but they face a nervous wait while events unfold in Paris.

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