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Six Nations: Jonathan Joseph fires England back into the reckoning with Italy win


Out of reach: Jonathan Joseph runs in for a try

Out of reach: Jonathan Joseph runs in for a try

©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Out of reach: Jonathan Joseph runs in for a try

England delivered the "good hiding" of Italy demanded by Eddie Jones to leave the Stadio Olimpico with a 40-9 victory that keeps alive their Grand Slam quest.

Jonathan Joseph plundered a hat-trick of tries in a final half-hour that was dominated by the Red Rose, while George Ford and Owen Farrell also crossed on an afternoon that saw the Azzurri suffer a late collapse.

Until Joseph struck for the first time in the 53rd minute, the "absolutely brutal" demolition in which no Italian was "left standing" sought by Jones looked a bold ambition with the lead a slender 11-9.

Centre Joseph was the executioner in what proved to be a five-try rout after the visitors ensured a difficult first half. Joseph's treble included a fine finish after he had intercepted a long pass, but he paid tribute to the men who gave him the opportunity.

He said: "We are very proud of our defence, our defensive structure. 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."

Three points from the boot of Carlo Canna saw the Azzurri rewarded for their endeavour, but when their scrum crumbled deep in their own half Farrell was able to level the score.

A dummy and break by Youngs saw England renew their attack with Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes and Billy Vunipola adding weight to the assault until a knock-on brought the move to an attack.

Farrell departed for a head injury assessment after being flattened by a heavy tackle - he later returned - so it was Ford and Canna who exchanged kicks as a tight opening quarter drew to a close.

There was redemption for Joseph as his tenacity in pressing defence helped England win a turnover that was threaded left where a crafty pass from Vunipola found Farrell and Ford darted over in the corner.

Canna kicked his third penalty and the Azzurri finished the half with a flourish, forcing Chris Robshaw and Jack Nowell to save the day by scrambling back in defence.

When a second try was plundered by England it came against the run of play.

Italy were looking to counter from their own 22 but a pass was easily picked off by Joseph, who crossed under the posts.

Five minutes later Joseph crossed again, collecting a brilliantly-judged grubber by Danny Care. The hat-trick was completed with a show of strength from Joseph before Farrell arrived to deliver the final blow.

Belfast Telegraph