LONDON (Reuters) – Jonathan Joseph scored two superb tries as England recovered from a stuttering start to hammer Italy 47-17 on Saturday to make it two wins out of two in the Six Nations championship and remain on course for their first title since 2011.
England scored six tries, and their backline showed some real pace and panache, but they looked shaky in defence at times as Italy started and finished strongly.
There was also a late cameo from replacement flyhalf Danny Cipriani who scored a try 22 seconds after joining the fray in his first appearance in the Six Nations since 2008.
“At halftime we gave them a rev up, we said we needed to up the intensity, and I think we did that in the second half,” England coach Stuart Lancaster told the BBC.
“I’m slightly disappointed that we didn’t do a bit better but I’m really pleased for Jonathan Joseph. He’s having a great season so far and I’m delighted for him.”
It was a very different atmosphere at Twickenham to the bearpit of Cardiff last week when England impressively beat Wales, but home fans expecting a repeat of last year’s 52-11 Roman stroll were given a rude awakening as Italy captain Sergio Parisse scored the opening try after two minutes.
After a backline shuffle caused by an early injury to fullback Mike Brown, England eventually settled and, after a George Ford penalty, went ahead after 24 minutes when Billy Vunipola got the benefit of a tight TMO call.
Joseph, who made such an impression against Wales last week, again showed the combination of speed and step that has been shredding Premiership defences all season to score a scintillating second after captain Chris Robshaw, yet again, had forced a halfway line turnover.
Ford landed another penalty at the start of the second half but Italy looked livelier and were rewarded when centre Luca Morisi burst through for his side’s second try.
Flyhalf Kelly Haimona, however, missed his second conversion, having also missed two penalties, as Italy’s long-standing goalkicking problem again dogged them.