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Jonathan Joseph credits England's defence after five-try win over Italy

Published 14/02/2016

England's Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick
England's Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick

Hat-trick hero Jonathan Joseph modestly brushed aside his feat after England launched a second-half blitz in Rome to beat Italy 40-9.

Centre Joseph was the executioner in what proved to be a five-try rout after the visitors ensured a difficult first half.

But ask to pick his favourite, he told ITV Sport: "I'm not sure, to be honest. They were all - I sort of just got on the end of things. The last one, good defence and managed to get on the end, so I that one sticks out.

"I don't think Anthony [Watson] was too happy, I think he wanted it in the bottom corner."

Joseph's treble included a fine finish after he had intercepted a long pass, but once again he paid tribute to the men who gave him the opportunity.

He said: "We are very proud of our defence, our defensive structure. We like to squeeze teams and we felt that was what we were doing there. We forced an error and luckily, I was the guy that got on the end of it."

England recovered from an ill-disciplined first-half display to tear Italy apart after the break and will now head into their home clash with Ireland in a fortnight's time brimming with confidence.

Joseph said: "We spoke about starting well - unfortunately, we didn't quite get that today - but once we got into it, we showed what England can do and we are very proud of that performance.

"We just had to come out firing in the second half. For us, everything was in place, all the principles, we just made a few errors early on. But we managed to eradicate that and move forward."

Skipper Dylan Hartley admitted his frustration at his team's first-half display, but was delighted with the way they responded during the second half.

Hartley said: "The first half was frustrating, but overall it was a very satisfying win for us. We weren't 100 per cent and we have got high standards, so we have got stuff to work on there.

"Breakdown-wise first half, we were a bit off the money, we were slow to get to the ruck, a few side entries, holding on to the ball, things we need to tidy up. I think we let Italy into the game there.

"We seemed surprised when they were competing for the ball, so second half we came out, we took the onus on ourselves to compete at the ruck a bit harder, get a foot on the ball, mix things up at the breakdown and I think it got us a good return there."

Coach Eddie Jones admitted the game had panned out the way he expected it to, if not in quite with the style for which he had hoped.

Jones said: "Look, we thought we'd get our points in the last 20 minutes and that's how it turned out. Really we let them into the game in the first half with ill discipline, turned over the ball easily - I think our first three possessions, we gave it back to them.

"But in the second half, we got our rhythm and it was a pretty good performance.

"We tried to take some pace into the game early - we thought if we got pace into the game early, they would fatigue in the last 20, so I think it's a result of what we did in the game. Obviously a number of injuries didn't help them [Italy], but that's rugby, isn't it?"

As well as positives, Jones will look to address areas of concern as he prepares for the clash with Ireland.

He said: "Of our ball, we are not attacking so well. We gave the ball back to too easily. Off their ball, we attacked really well today. The breakdown, we had some good periods and some bad periods, so we just need that consistency."

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