England rounded out their preparations for the Rugby World Cup with an emphatic 37-0 win over Italy at St James’ Park on Friday.
Eddie Jones’ much-changed side completed their warm-up fixtures by scoring four tries without reply in Newcastle, captain Owen Farrell converting them all as he finished with a personal haul of 17 points.
However, while they stretched their winning record against Italy to 26 Tests, England produced a performance of two contrasting halves in their final outing before this year’s tournament in Japan.
They led only 9-0 at the break thanks to a hat-trick of Farrell penalties and were fortunate not to concede in defence, Tommaso Benvenuti appearing to get around Jonny May only to drop the ball as he headed for the line.
Farrell failed with a penalty attempt early in the second half but England crossed for their first try not long after their skipper’s miss, scrum-half Ben Youngs getting over from close range.
0 – @EnglandRugby have nilled Italy for the first time, it’s the 5th time this century they’ve prevented a side from scoring a point; Italy meanwhile have now not beaten a Tier 1 side outside of Italy since before the last RWC (Sco in 2015), losing all 21 such games since. Blank. pic.twitter.com/R4Ww5j8A48
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) September 6, 2019
Joe Marchant marked his first Test start by crossing in the 53rd minute, the centre – picked by Jones for the game despite not being included in the final 31-man party for the World Cup – slicing through some flimsy tackling to score.
Replacement Ellis Genge benefited from his colleagues in the pack to get his maiden international try when finishing off a powerful maul, Farrell’s successful conversion making it 30-0.
The fly-half was also on target after setting up the final try for team-mate Anthony Watson, who capitalised on a tiring Italy defence to breeze through a huge gap and slide over.
Jones will hope to receive a clean bill of health from those involved before England fly out on Sunday. Their opening Pool C fixture is against Tonga on September 22.