NO PLACE LIKE ROME!
Jones hails centurion Youngs’ ‘massive achievement’ as England snatch sensational championship glory
CENTURION Ben Youngs delivered a golden double in Rome to inspire England to a third Six Nations title in five years.
Two top-class tries from the England scrum-half either side of half-time put Eddie Jones’s side on their way to a bonus-point win.
A tremendous bounceback from the World Cup finalists after losing their opening game in Paris that seems a lifetime ago.
Youngs, the man of the match on his 100th appearance, said: “I will try to absorb the achievement with the boys, I’m so proud. The most important thing for me was to play a part in this team.
“I just wanted to focus on my performance and fulfil my role. It’s a great milestone, but certainly not one that will make me take my foot off the gas. I love being part of this group. It’s exciting times.”
Jones’s first meeting with Youngs after he took charge featured the England coach giving the Leicester scrum-half a bag of sweets as a none-toosubtle hint to keep his weight down.
But the Australian gaffer could not have been happier with Youngs’ performance at the Stadio Olimpico. Jones said: “It’s always nice for players to play well in their 100th game. He scored a couple of nice tries so he will feel good about this game.
“The whole team feels good about him getting 100 caps. It’s a massive achievement and we’re so proud of him. Now we want him to go on and get 150.” ” A 29-point winning margin in Rome was a satisfactory return, given the inevitable rust in their first game for seven months.
Youngs said: “We always felt it would be a grinding down process. But we knew we would get there in the end. That was the most important thing.”
England were never able to cut loose against the noisy but limited Italians.
But the gap in class was so marked that it was only a question of when, rather than if, they would achieve the bonus-point victory they were chasing.
The answer to ‘ when’ was 67 minutes. Tom Curry sniped down a deserted blind-side from a ruck close to the Italian line to cross without a finger laid on him. The fifth try five minutes later
came when Henry Slade went over after replacement Ben Earl had chased down Owen Farrell’s chip.
England had strolled into a fifth-minute lead with Youngs tracking a Farrell break to touch down after the captain had been put through a hole by the soft hands of Mako Vunipola.
But their obsession with the high kick gave Italy a f oothold and an uncharacteristic fumble by Kyle Sinckler presented a counterpunching chance the home side took. Carlo Canna fed Jake
Polledri and the bull-like No.8 swatted aside Youngs and Anthony Watson to muscle in for a try in the left-hand corner.
Losing Polledri, who f o l lowe d Eng land debutant Jonny Hill into the sin- bin before the break, proved costly. The
Tom Curry bags bonus-point try... but then England (above) could only wait for
result in France
Italian defence overstretched itself and Youngs expertly dummied his way through to score his second just after half time.
Wasps full-back Matteo Minozzi’s game was ended shortly after with a badly broken nose after a clash of heads with Jonny May.
With the meddlesome Maro Itoje disrupting the Azzurri lineout, England squeezed the Italians and Jamie George, winning his 50th cap, was mauled over in the 53rd minute.
The two tries that followed put England out of sight. Target set, all they could do was sit back at the team hotel and enjoy what unfolded in Paris.