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England didn't need to be at their best to run in 10 tries against Italy

The Azzurri were able to knock the champions a little off their stride and scored a terrific try of their own in the first half.

England 56

Italy 13

Sean Farrell reports from UCD, Billings Park

ENGLAND GOT ALL they needed, without ever having to show off all they’re capable of against a determined Italy.

Simon Middleton’s reigning world champions and Grand Slam winners began this campaign with a 56 – 5 Pool B win over Spain in the Belfield Bowl.

Across campus, in overcast conditions and against more robust opposition today, they struggled for fluency through the first half, yet still had a bonus point and a 22 – 8 lead at the interval.

The presence of out-half Katy McLean on the bench was also a notable factor, and the introduction of her sharp passing skill-set at half-time brought an obvious improvement in the English attack.

Of course, the Red Roses were working their way towards victory well before McLean’s introduction. Emily Scarratt and Alex Matthews crossed the try-line before the Azzurri found room to show their flair in opposition territory midway through the first period.

The Six Nations strugglers managed to deliver the finest try of the first half. 22 minutes in, Maria Magatti burst up the right wing, but ran in to some fine cover defence from Danielle Waterman. The Azzurri were able to sustain their forward momentum with Veronica Schiavon popping smart passes off to Alice Trevisan and Valeria Fedrighi before the blue shirts flooded back on the blindside to send Magatti over.

England celebrates scoring their first try Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

By way of response, England clicked the machine into gear at the other end and showed their own wide threat; Amber Reed and Rachel Burford flinging zip-line passes left to right to allow Lydia Thompson finish a slick move in the corner.

On the stroke of half-time, the dominant white pack set another rock solid platform deep in the Italy 22 and Amy Cokayne was one of a queue overlapping in white waiting to finish the move off.

As England sent on reinforcements to build on their 15-point advantage, Italy lost their primary playmaker Schiavon. To their credit, the Azzurri didn’t lose their fight, and forced a second try through Elisa Giordano.

By that stage though McLean was already hitting her carriers in stride and the champions comfortably worked their way to victory with second half tries from Tamara Taylor, Scarratt, Amy Wilson-Hardy, Thompson and a brace from Waterman.

Sara Barattin with Justine Lucas Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Over in the Bowl, USA also remained two from two in Pool B with a 43 – 0 win over Spain and so will face the Red Roses for the right to top the pool in matchday three on Thursday.

ENGLAND: Danielle Waterman (Bristol); Lydia Thompson (Worcester Valkyries), Emily Scarratt (Lichfield) (capt), Rachael Burford (Harlequins), Amy Wilson Hardy (Bristol); Amber Reed (Bristol), Natasha Hunt (Lichfield); Rochelle Clark (Worcester Valkyries), Amy Cokayne (Lichfield), Justine Lucas (Lichfield), Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Zoe Aldcroft (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol), Marlie Packer (Bristol), Alex Matthews (Richmond).

Replacements: Heather Kerr (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins), Poppy Cleall (Bristol), Harriet Millar-Mills (Lichfield), Sarah Hunter (Bristol), La Toya Mason (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Katy Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks), Megan Jones (Bristol).

ITALY: Manuela Furlan (Unattached); Michela Sillari (Harlequins), Maria Grazia Cioffi (Rugby Colorno), Beatrice Rigoni (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Maria Magatti (Rugby Monza 1949); Veronica Schiavon (Yokohama TKM), Sara Barattin (Villorba Rugby) (capt); Marta Ferrari (Stade Rennais), Melissa Bettoni (Stade Rennais), Lucia Gai (Stade Rennais), Valeria Fedrighi (Verona Rugby), Alice Trevisan (Rugby Riviera 1975), Ilaria Arrighetti (Stade Rennais), Isabella Locatelli (Rugby Monza 1949), Elisa Giordano (Valsugana Rugby Padova).
Replacements: Elisa Cucchiella (Rugby Belve Neroverdi), Gaia Giacomoli (Rugby Colorno), Sara Tounesi (Rugby Colorno), Valentina Ruzza (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Silvia Gaudino (Rugby Monza 1949), Sofia Stefan (Stade Rennais), Paola Zangirolami (Valsugana Rugby Padova), Veronica Madia (Rugby Colorno).

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