England (15) 47

Try: Vunipola, Joseph 2, Youngs, Cipriani, Easter

Pens: Ford 3

Conversions: Ford 3, Cipriani

Italy (5) 17

Try: Parisse, Morisi 2

Conversions: Allan

Jonathan Joseph
Joseph enhanced his international reputation with two stunning tries. Getty Images

England called on their powers of recovery and once again the brilliance of Jonathan Joseph as they claimed their second successive Six Nations victory over a spirited Italy at Twickenham.

Sergio Parisse went over after just four minutes, but Billy Vunipola's controversial try and a brilliant individual effort from Joseph had the hosts ahead at the break, after a first half overshadowed by Mike Brown being stretchered from the first after a clash with Andrea Masi.

Luca Morisi scored at either end of the second half but in between England pulled away with a flurry of tries from Ben Youngs, Joseph and replacements Danny Cipriani and Nick Easter – both of whom had been plucked from international exile for the tournament.

While victory will likely see England end the weekend top of the Six Nations table on points difference, there remains room for improvement for the World Cup hosts, while Italy provided encouraging signs despite suffering a 21<sup>st straight defeat to their opponents.

Though coach Stuart Lancaster was keen to keep feet firmly on the ground after disposing of Wales in Cardiff, he named an unchanged team for just the third time in his international career as England looked for a fourth straight test win.

Geoff Parling, Tom Wood and Kyle Eastmond were all fit again and will be contention to return for the resumption of the campaign in March, but Lancaster resisted making any alterations for the visit of the beleaguered Italians.

Competitive for long periods of the first half, Italy had succumbed to mounting Ireland pressure in the second period of their Championship opener and made four changes to their team, which included a recall for experienced forwards Mauro Bergamasco and Marco Bortolami.

Having never beaten England in the Six Nations and lost all 20 of their previous meetings, Italy could have been forgiven for thinking they were making up the numbers at Twickenham however defeats by less than eight points in three of their last five clashes suggested Jacques Brunel's side could be competitive.

But the Azzuri proved they could be more than mere bystanders with a try with less than four minutes on the clock as Brown was twice bulldozed through and skipper Parisse stormed over.

The elation which accompanied Italy's early score was replaced by concern after just 12 minutes as Andrea Masi's shoulder connected with the head of Mike Brown, leaving the Harlequins full back stricken on the turf.

Such were the severity of the damage to Brown a medical car was required to take the player from the pitch after a seven-minute hold up in play after an incident which once again highlighted the worrying 59% rise in head injuries.

Upon the restart, England rediscovered the vigour which had been absent from their performance from the opening quarter of the first half and after Ford reduced the arrears with a penalty, Vunipola scored his second international try in the corner via a controversial decision from the video referee.

England completed the first half turnaround with a stunning try as following a turnover Joseph sold two dummies and stormed through to score his second try in as many games with a driving run started from just inside the Italy half.

Kelly Haimona missed two penalties just before half time as the visitors sought a way back into the match and those failed attempts were compounded by England's failure to score from a turnover as Jonny May turned down an overlap.

Ford kicked England further ahead with an early penalty as Italy were punished for taking further risks at the breakdown as they looked to regain a foothold in the contest.

Just as the hosts looked lie putting the squeeze on their opponents, more enterprising attacking play from Italy, combined with more lackluster England tacking saw Morisi evade Dave Attwood and Anthony Watson to score.

Haimona's problems fro the floor continued as the Zebre fly-half missed with the conversion and his errors were accentuated as England grabbed a fourth try as a quickly tapped penalty saw Youngs catch the Italians fast asleep.

Another Ford penalty put the result beyond any doubt and that allowed England to finish with a flourish as replacement Billy Twelvetrees helped find Joseph, who stormed in behind an Italian defence on the wane for his second try.

Ciprini came on Lancaster rung the changes and he took just 60 seconds to make an impression on his first Twickenham appearance for seven years after he collected the ball on the shoulder of May.

The points continued to flow for the home side as Easter benefitted from another drive from their dominant forwards as Italy performed the role of bystanders in the closing minutes to claim his first try since 2008.

Italy ended the match like they started as Morisi went over in the corner for a consolation try but that did little to take off the shine off a heavy win for England, who travel to Dublin in a fortnight for a potential title decider against Ireland.

England: 15. Mike Brown, 14: Anthony Watson, 13. Jonathan Joseph, 12. Luther Burrell, 11. Jonny May, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs; 1. Joe Marler, 2. Dylan Hartley, 3. Dan Cole, 4. Dave Attwood, 5. George Kruis, 6. James Haskell, 7. Chris Robshaw, 8. Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16. Tom Youngs, 17. Mako Vunipola 18. Kieran Brookes, 19. Tom Croft, 20. Nick Easter, 21. Richard Wigglesworth, 22. Danny Cipriani, 23. Billy Twelvetrees.

Italy: 15. Luke McLean, 14. Leonardo Sarto, 13. Luca Morisi, 12. Andrea Masi, 11. Giovanbattista Venditti, 10. Kelly Haimona, Edoardo Gori; 1. Alberto de Marchi, 2. Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3. Martin Castrogiovanni, 4. George Fabio Biagi, 5. Marco Bortolami, 6. Maruo Bergamasco, 7. Francesco Minto, 8. Sergio Pariss.

Replacements: 16. Andrea Manici, 17. Matias Aguero, 18. Dario Chistolini, 19. Joshua Furno, 20. Samuela Vunisa, 21. Guglielmo Palazzani, 22. Tommaso Allan, 23. Giulio Bisegni.