England U20s began the defence of their Six Nations crown, with a strong second half showing to overcome Italy 27-17 on Friday night.
Despite the unfavourable conditions, the visitors rallied at half time and three second half tries secured the bonus point victory.
England U20s open with a Win
England captain Ben Earl touched down in the first half amidst a flurry of handling errors from both sides. Italy impressed in spells and none more so than second rower Canali’s work. Constantly disrupting England’s lineout, showing a maturity and aggression that will worry all his opponents.
The Azzurri finished the half strongly, utilising their forward pack to drive over from a lineout. The one-point deficit going into the break gave the hosts the belief, ahead of the second forty.
England emerged a totally different team and immediately advanced on the front foot. Numerous phases on the Italian line proved unrewarding, but the quick thinking of debutant scrum-half Ben White increased England’s lead.
Parton Dazzles with Solo Try
James Grayson obliged from the tee and moments later, was back in his kicking stance converting a ‘stunning solo try’ from full back Tom Parton.
A blistering run from inside his own half, Parton skipped through the Italian defence and diving over to further the lead.
England took the initiative and kept the pressure on Italy’s defence. Possession and territory favoured the visitors and some slick handling out wide allowed Ben Loader to touch down and secure maximum points.
The Italians persevered and were duly rewarded with some pressure of their own on England’s try line. Two yellow cards and persistent ill-discipline left the referee with no choice but to award the penalty try to Italy.
England Resilience Prevails
England finished victors 27-17 but the Italians will be disappointed not to have gained anything from the game. Bonus points are going to be critical – as France proved, in their victory over Ireland. Italy will take great confidence from their display and actually look likely to secure wins of their own during this years Six Nations campaign.
England will march on to Newcastle as they face Wales in round two.
Some will point out that it is a 15 man game, but with splendid playmakers like Tom Parton, the English supporters will be very pleased (as they prepare for the senior XV match tonight).
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 2, 2018
Speaking after the game, the ‘Man of the Match’ Parton said: “It was a tough old game, Italy really brought it to us. We’ve got a really resilient bunch so to come away with the victory is always sweet.
His team will be ecstatic over the outcome. A team result, punctuated by great individual splashes of excellence. That will support this teams attempt at retaining their 2017 title.
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