England’s centre Jonathan Joseph (R) celebrates with England’s centre Luther Burrell after scoring his second try during the Six Nations international rugby union match against Italy at Twickenham Stadium in south west London yesterday. (AFP)
Centre Jonathan Joseph grabbed a brace of tries as England gained their second win in the Six Nations Championship and swept aside a brave Italian side 47-17 with a dominant second half display at Twickenham.
No.8 Billy Vunipola, scrum-half Ben Youngs and replacements Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter also went over for England, who again fell behind in a game before rallying and then surging clear.
They had been stunned by a fine early try from Italy captain Sergio Parisse while centre Luca Morisi also crossed twice for the visitors in the second half.
England full-back Mike Brown became rugby’s latest concussion victim as he was knocked cold and out of the match after just 12 minutes. His head collided with the shoulder of Italy centre Andrea Masi and he was treated on the field before being taken off on a stretcher.
But he soon recovered and was not taken to hospital but took a seat in the dugout to watch the rest of the match.
“It’s going great. It’s great to get the win today. The boys showed great spirit to come back and get the win,” Joseph, who ended up on the wing after Brown went off, told the BBC.
England eventually ran out easy winners with a strong second half display against a tiring Italian side, which had been beaten 26-3 by the Irish in Rome the week before.
Italy head coach Jacques Brunel said: “We started fine but then it all went wrong. You must play at a high level for 80 minutes not just 20 minutes in the Six Nations.”
The visitors had not scored a Test try for 254 minutes. Yet they stunned England after just three minutes as the powerful Parisse, who grabbed the previous one against Samoa in November, bull-dozed his way over.
“Jonathan Joseph was outstanding. It was a big shift to put him on the wing as it’s not ideal but with Browny’s injury it was an obvious one for us to put Anthony to full-back having played there for his club and JJ on the wing,” said England coach Stuart Lancaster.
“He still found a way to influence the game which is great.
“We shall see how it goes with Mike Brown. It helps the fact that it is two weeks and a day before we play Ireland but we will take him through the return to play protocol. I spoke to him in the changing room and he was grumpy that he had to miss the game and frustrated—he is grumpy anyway.”
England lost Brown with concussion in a painful collision as the Harlequins man attempted to intercept fly-half Kelly Haimona’s chip through as Italy went back on the attack.
But, as he went to catch the ball, Masi got to it first and the Italian’s right shoulder clattered into the side of Brown’s head.
Brown was left flat out on the grass unmoving and with blood dripping from his nose.
George Ford’s boot put the hosts on the scoreboard and England managed to put their noses in front with a slightly controversial try from Vunipola.
It appeared the Saracens forward had been forced into touch in the left-hand corner by desperate late Italian tackling from captain Parisse and scrum-half Edoardo Gori.
Vunipola surged forward and, after watching a series of replays, referee John Lacey awarded the try even though it seemed inconclusive.
England’s next attack saw the impressive Joseph show off his pace and skill to burst through a hole in the Italian defence and the Bath youngster crossed the visitors’ line for Ford to convert.
Ford kicked another penalty at the start of the second-half but Morisi showed a fine turn of speed to defy tacklers before scrambling across the England line for his side’s second try.
The England response was swift with scrum-half Youngs darting over from the back of a scrum.
England were dominant as first Joseph raced through a large Italian hole for his second. Cipriani came off the bench to replace Ford and with his first touch in a Test since 2008, the Sale Sharks fly-half took Jonny May’s pass to stroll across the line for a try. A dream international return.
Nick Easter went over next as the 36-year-old became the oldest player to score a try for England. He sunk to the bottom of an England rolling maul which pushed Italy back over their line.
Morisi dived over in the corner for his second and Italy’s third try but it was too late for a revival from the visitors.
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