Joseph hat-trick powers England to victory
Italy 9 England 40
Published 15/02/2016 | 02:30
It only takes a look around this city to realise that things of lasting beauty are not built in a day. For almost an hour it was hard to appreciate anything of aesthetic worth in England's play: fractured, clunky, rushed and up-tight, at a far remove from the sort of outfit that had been charged with giving their opponents "a real good hiding".
But, just as Eddie Jones had scripted it, so it came to pass, the replacements adding class and clout, England scoring four tries in the final 27 minutes, Jonathan Joseph getting a hat-trick. Danny Care and Maro Itoje contributed heartily from the bench, bringing pace and dynamism.
George Ford's turn-over try had given the visitors a 11-9 lead after a tight opening half. First the softening-up, then the knockout blows, a heavyweight's charter.
Owen Farrell finished with 17 points, touching down for one of the tries. The scoreline was emphatic, the concluding vibe upbeat and England head into the middle of the Championship unbeaten, with seven tries to their credit and none conceded.
Those figures are impressive even if swathes of their performances have been less so. The England edifice still needs several layers of construction. There were lineout glitches, turnovers conceded and a lack of early fluency. They also conceded 13 penalties, beyond the norm, and were slightly fortunate that James Haskell was not sent to the sin-bin for a tackle in the air on full-back Luke McLean. Yet once again there was a sense that it would come right as it had at Murrayfield.
Jones went out of his way to praise Joseph and put a few miles of distance between himself and the theory that Elliot Daly, the uncapped Wasps midfielder, is closing in on the No 13 shirt. "There's been lots of talk from you guys, but there hasn't been lots of talk from me," Jones responded. "Let's get this right. I never talked about Elliot being a Test 13.
"Joseph has a great short kicking game, a good outside break and lovely footwork," Jones said. "That Italian centre he was up against [Michele Campagnaro] is a serious player, so I'm pleased he was able to show something in attack as well as stay sound in defence." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Italy - McLean; L Sarto, Campagnaro, Garcia (Pratichetti 33), Bellini; Canna (Padovani 60), Gori (Palazzani 75); Lovotti (Zanusso 62), Gega (Giazzon 41), Cittadini (Castrogiovanni 58), Biagi, Fuser (Bernabo 14), Minto, Zanni (Steyn 30), Parisse.
England - Brown (Goode 69); Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell; Ford, Youngs (Care 49); M Vunipola (Marler47), Hartley (George 69), Cole (P Hill 69), Lawes (Launchbury 47), Kruis, Robshaw (Clifford 62), Haskell (Itoje 54), B Vunipola.
Ref - G Jackson (New Zealand)