Joseph's 3 tries lead England to 40-9 win at Italy in 6N

ROME (AP) — Jonathan Joseph scored three second-half tries and England overcame a sluggish first half for a comfortable 40-9 win over Italy in the Six Nations on Sunday.

The victory stretched England's perfect record over the Azzurri to 22 wins.

England had only a two-point lead when Joseph intercepted a pass from Leonardo Sarto and waltzed in for his first try.

Five minutes later, near the hour mark, the England center got his second following a perfect kick from Danny Care.

Joseph's hat trick try came when he dragged three defenders over the line in the 71st.

"We spoke about starting well. Unfortunately we didn't quite get that today," Joseph said. "But once we got into it, we showed what England can do and we are very proud of that performance."

George Ford had England's only try of the first half, while Owen Farrell added another in the closing minutes and also kicked for 12 points.

"We seemed surprised when they were competing for the ball," England skipper Dylan Hartley said. "So second half we came out, we took the onus on ourselves to compete at the ruck a bit harder, get a foot on the ball, mix things up at the breakdown and I think it got us a good return there."

England improved to 2-0 following its win over Scotland last week and leads the tournament ahead of France on points differential, with Wales in third place.

"We thought we'd get our points in the last 20 minutes and that's how it turned out," England coach Eddie Jones said. "Really we let them into the game in the first half with ill discipline, turned over the ball easily. I think our first three possessions, we gave it back to them. ... But in the second half, we got our rhythm and it was a pretty good performance."

Italy has two losses following a narrow opening-round defeat to France and looks headed for another wooden spoon.

"I'm disappointed. Because conceding 40 points hurts," Italy captain Sergio Parisse said. "We had the feeling that we were in the match during the first half and the opening 10 minutes of the second but 50 minutes are not enough at this level. We've got to continue working."

Italy lost four players to injury in the first half.

"We struggled physically, especially in the last 20 minutes," Parisse said.

England next hosts Ireland on Feb. 27 while Italy faces Scotland on the same day.


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