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Italy loses 34th straight game in 6 Nations, 33-0 to England

February 13, 2022 GMT
England's Henry Slade, centre, tries to put the ball over the line for a try during the Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, Sunday Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
England's Henry Slade, centre, tries to put the ball over the line for a try during the Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, Sunday Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
England's Henry Slade, centre, tries to put the ball over the line for a try during the Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, Sunday Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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England's Henry Slade, centre, tries to put the ball over the line for a try during the Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, Sunday Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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England's Henry Slade, centre, tries to put the ball over the line for a try during the Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, Sunday Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) — Make that 29 straight losses for Italy against England.

And, more embarrassingly for the beleaguered Azzurri, 34 straight defeats in the Six Nations.

With young flyhalf Marcus Smith showing his growing assurance, England coasted to a 33-0 win in Rome on Sunday with five tries also earning the visitors a bonus point.

Smith cruised over for the opening try in the 10th minute before hooker Jamie George crossed from close range twice before halftime, with England 21-0 ahead at the interval.

Elliot Daly ran onto a beautifully flighted mis-pass from Smith to go over unchallenged in the left corner five minutes into the second half and replacement prop Kyle Sinckler trundled in for the fifth in the 73rd.

Smith converted four of the tries to finish with a 13-point haul.

England bounced back successfully — as widely expected — from its 20-17 loss in Scotland in Round 1 while it’s two defeats on the spin for the Italians, who haven’t won a game in the tournament since February 2015.

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Italy hasn’t got within 21 points of England in any of their last 10 meetings.

“It was a good performance,” England coach Eddie Jones said. “We started the game well, got a bit of a flow, started the second half well, and defended well at the end.

“Italy are a tough team and they keep coming. If we were a bit tidier with some of our work, some running lines, it could have been a big score. We are happy with that ... they (Italy) have played New Zealand and France and in the first halves been in the game – and they were not in the game today.”

Ben Youngs came on as a second-half replacement to equal Jason Leonard’s record as England’s most capped player on 114 appearances, with the Round 3 visit of Wales to Twickenham the likely setting for him to surpass the milestone.

Having replaced the impressive Harry Randall, Youngs entered a team that was in the midst of losing its way as Italy discovered renewed purpose to spend long spells camped in opposition territory, albeit with little end product.

The English, fielding a side showing six changes in personnel following the Calcutta Cup setback last week, struggled to reimpose themselves and it took some gloss off the victory.

Italy traditionally provides stiff opposition for an hour until eventually being worn down, but it didn’t take long for England to get off the mark when Max Malins and Smith combined down the left for the flyhalf to score.

Jack Nowell was involved in much of England’s best work but he failed a head injury assessment following a tackle and was replaced by Daly.

Big carries from Nick Isiekwe and Maro Itoje shoved Italy’s pack backward and, as the pressure built, George burrowed over from close range.

England’s maul had been an effective weapon against Scotland but an attempt to launch it on the half-hour mark proved unsuccessful before Itoje had a try chalked off for offside.

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The first half finished with George using his strength to run through a tackler and reach out to claim his second try but the damage was done by slick handling and a piercing run from Freddie Steward.

It began to look ominous for Italy as Randall weaved a path into space and the hosts’ scrum conceded a penalty. When England opted for the set-piece again, Smith flashed his classy long pass for Daly to score the headline try of the match.

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