England eventually came good to see off Italy 41-18 in their round two Guinness Six Nations match at Twickenham, but they initially made very hard work of it against an opposition that title rivals France easily dismissed last week on a 50-10 scoreline in Rome.
Whereas seven-try France quickly got on top of the Italians, scoring three tries in the opening 29 minutes, six-try England endured a sluggish start where they fell behind to an early Monty Ioane try and they were only level at eight points all until Anthony Watson scored on 25 minutes.
Coming off the back of a disastrous round one home loss to Scotland, the last thing any England fan would have expected was to see their team go into arrears against an Italy team that hasn’t won a match in the championship since 2015.
The tournament’s whipping boys jumped in front with a well-worked try from their newly-eligible Australian winger, who was recently interviewed by RugbyPass, but England boss Jones claimed he wasn’t too upset at seeing his team fall five points behind in a contest they were tipped to win comfortably.
“Look, we were a bit slow into the game,” shrugged Jones after a fixture in which the 18 points Italy scored was the most the managed in this fixture since they were narrowly beaten 23-19 in Rome in 2008.
What a start from the Azzurri! ? ??
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 13, 2021
“I thought it ended up being a good thing for us. When you are playing against a team you are supposed to win against, if they score early it sharpens you up a little bit so I wasn’t too perturbed. In fact, I was I thought it would have a positive effect and it did.”
Italian boss Franco Smith agreed scoring so early could have been problematic he was pleased with how his team fought. “That is also a bit of a bad omen because if you score that quickly after a difficult game [the loss to France], sometimes a lot of the pressure shifts but we stayed in the game at eight-all and at least proved we could manage the situation.
“So yeah, I was really happy… but soft moments in the game make a difference. Test rugby is cruel in that regard but at least we have made some good progress in the last two games.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 13, 2021
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