Tuilagi shines in big England win

Manu Tuilagi runs in to score for England against Italy at Twickenham. Photo: AP
Manu Tuilagi runs in to score for England against Italy at Twickenham. Photo: AP
Manu Tuilagi scored two tries in a dominant display as England thrashed Italy 57-14 to keep its Six Nations title hopes intact on Saturday.

Wing Joe Cokanasiga was equally impressive as England's powerful new-look backline repeatedly breached the Italy defence in an eight-try victory at Twickenham.

Italy backed up their pre-match promise to attack England when Tommaso Allan cancelled out Jamie George's opening score to level the scores after 12 minutes, but that was as good as it got for the winless visitors.

England secured a four-tries bonus point by halftime with further scores from Jonny May, Tuilagi, and Brad Shields, who claimed his first international try.

Tuilagi, who has reestablished himself as a key player for England, having recovered from years of injury problems, added his second score after the interval.

Italy, who have lost their last 21 Six Nations matches, grabbed a consolation through Luca Morisi, but England put further gloss on the result with tries from George Kruis, replacement scrumhalf Dan Robson, and a second Shields score.

To win the title, England need Wales to slip up against Ireland in the final round next weekend. Wales, who beat England in the previous round, earlier remained on track for a Grand Slam with an 18-11 win over Scotland, who visit England next.

Cokanaisga, who was inserted by Eddie Jones for the injured Jack Nowell, quickly showed the alternative dimension he offers. He earned a penalty deep in Italy's 22 with a chase-down tackle and then made a break from midfield, before delivering an offload that should have resulted in a try — all in the first six minutes.

Moments later, a lineout maul resulted in George being shunted over.

Italy took advantage of their first foray into England's half when Allan exploited a gap to squeeze over in the corner. His conversion from the touchline levelled the scores.

However, Italy were unable to back it up, as three missed tackles allowed Elliot Daly to break through and set up May to restore England's lead immediately.

After a quiet opening quarter upon returning to his natural position at outside centre, Tuilagi suddenly imposed himself by bulldozing through Italy wing Angelo Esposito's tackle on halfway and handing off Michele Campagnaro and sprinting clear for his first England try in five years.

Captain Owen Farrell, who made five of his six goalkicks, added a penalty to make it 24-7.

Tuilagi turned provider, his skill bamboozling Allan, then passing inside to give Shields a simple finish as England secured a bonus point after just 32 minutes and went in with a 31-7 halftime advantage.

It was more of the same after the interval as Cokanasiga broke through Italy's defence, allowing England to work the ball wide via an impressive skip-pass from hooker George to find Tuilagi on the wing for his second score.

Italy took advantage of a brief drop in intensity from England to add a second try as Allan found Morisi out wide, but England responded with a final flourish.

Lock George Kruis scored from his own chargedown, Cokanasiga set up replacement Robson, and another Kruis chargedown fell perfectly into the hands of Shields for his second score.

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