It wasn’t pretty and wasn’t as easy as past England triumphs over Italy but Eddie Jones’ men crucially returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 41-18 scoreline. After losing to Scotland at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 last weekend, defeat at home to Gli Azzuri would have been unthinkable and disastrous.
However, as expected, the Red Rose dominated a nation who hold the record for most wooden spoon awards with 15, having been whitewashed eleven times. After the setback against the Scots, England will have welcomed the run of fixtures throwing up the Italians to bounce back as opposed to much tougher match-ups with France, Wales or Ireland.
Yes, they were fortunate at times with some generous refereeing decisions as some forward balls were missed and left unpunished but, overall, the hosts put in a convincing display and restored pride in the shirt. It wasn’t a classic but it was certainly a job well done, far better than the showing last week and Eddie Jones will have been buoyed by what he saw and the reaction from his players.
One of the highlights of the game came when Jonny May scored a spectacular try flying through the air on the wing to evade an Italian tackle and hammer the ball down. It was a stunning piece of awareness and skill and England, on occasion, looked to be in the groove. However, other times, it appeared more of a slog.
Italy started brightly and took the lead through Monty Ioane after only three minutes and impressed in attack on the counter. England though responded well and recorded six tries in total with Anthony Watson, who looked lively throughout, scoring two.
Having bounced back to winning ways, it unfortunately wasn’t an afternoon without setback at Twickenham for England though, Jack Willis was forced off with a knee injury midway through the second half and the early assumption is the Wasps flanker could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Farrell told ITV Sport, "[It's] not the best performance we have ever had but in terms of the energy and intent that was back to being us. We had some honest conversations in the week, and got things right on the training field. I thought we attacked the game, our intent was brilliant, we got in behind them, not everything went our way but we stuck at it."
England prop Kyle Sinckler insisted the win was a “step in the right direction” and added, “We were very frustrated last week and knew we had to step up and play the England Way, dominate upfront - which we did at times - but we know there is so much more to give.”
It was a fair assessment, England won’t get carried away but can build on this win. This one won’t go down in history but England’s victory over Italy could put them back on track and in the least will have boosted confidence for the rest of the campaign. The feelings after that Scotland game will have been grim but they can be buried for now and positivity must rule.
There is still room for improvement for sure, but the high score made for a pleasant return and Jones will only be thinking onwards and upwards ahead of the trip to the Principality Stadium in two weeks’ time.