Manu Tuilagi scored his first Test tries in five years on Saturday as England thrashed Italy 57-14 at Twickenham to maintain their Six Nations title hopes.
The rampaging center, whose career has been blighted by injuries, crossed twice as England ran in eight tries in total against perennial strugglers Italy, for whom this was a 21st successive defeat in the Six Nations.
The match was over as a contest before halftime, with Tuilagi scoring one of England’s four tries as they secured a bonus point in just the 32nd minute.
Before the match, Tuilagi had said that one job for England’s inside backs was to give recalled wing Joe Cokanasiga the ball.
They did just that, with Cokanasiga making 108m, five clean breaks and two offloads as England bounced back in style from a 21-13 defeat by Wales.
England coach Eddie Jones had deliberately selected a hugely powerful backline, pairing Ben Te’o and Tuilagi in midfield.
Italy, to their credit, were briefly level at 7-7 thanks to fly-half Tommaso Allan converting his own try.
However, there was a reason the Azzurri, who have now lost all 25 of their Tests against England, were 60/1 outsiders and from then on it was largely one-way traffic.
“It was difficult,” Italy coach Conor O’Shea said. “That was an incredibly powerful England performance.”
England, dominating territory from the start, opened the scoring in the eighth minute when hooker Jamie George was driven over from a close-range line-out.
Italy then stunned a capacity Twickenham crowd of more than 82,000 people with a well-worked score that saw Allan on the blind side for a try that he converted.
Minutes later, England were 14-7 ahead after full-back Elliot Daly sent Jonny May in for the wing’s fifth try in four Tests.
Tuilagi then burst through Italy wing Angelo Esposito’s tackle and handed off center Michele Campagnaro before running in from 34m for his first England try since one against Italy in 2014.
WALES VS SCOTLAND
AP, EDINBURGH, Scotland
Wales on Saturday survived a second-half onslaught from Scotland to prevail 18-11 at Murrayfield and are to return home to play for the Six Nations Grand Slam.
Wales were cruising to a fourth win out of four when they led 15-6 at halftime, but Scotland suddenly came alive to own the second half.
Grant Gilchrist was held up over the line and then Darcy Graham finished a brilliant backs move so that Scotland trailed by only four points with 22 minutes to go and their crowd roaring them on.
Scotland had most of the possession in the half, forced penalties and had Wales pinned down, but they hindered their progress with their own spills, poor passes and turnovers.
Wales’ defense came to the fore, as they made 138 tackles in the second half after 66 in the first.
The match finished with Wales on Scotland’s 22m line again, and Gareth Anscombe kicking a second penalty.
Wales are to play defending champions Ireland on Saturday in Cardiff for a shot at a first Grand Slam since 2012 and a first Six Nations championship since 2013.
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