Youngs looking good as England round into form
Ben Youngs starred as England ran in four tries to beat Italy 37-0 in both sides’ final World Cup warm-up game at St. James’ Park.
The Leicester Tigers scrum-half scored one try and made another while his clubmate Ellis Genge, Harlequins centre Joe Marchant and Bath wing Anthony Watson all also went over for the Red Rose.
The hosts were subdued by strong Italian defending in a tight opening half but powered away and proved too strong in the second as they entertained a strong home support to end their World Cup preparations with victory.
England were vibrant in the first minutes and Tigers wing Jonny May nearly scored the opener inside the opening five when Youngs delivered a box-kick which bounced invitingly into the path of the chasing May only for Jayden Hayward to stop him.
But the lead belonged to the hosts seconds later when Saracens’ Owen Farrell easily converted a penalty.
Italy hit back with a period of sustained pressure and should have had the first try when Tommaso Benvenuti dropped the ball just short of the line after beating May on the outside, the Tigers winger doing well with his last-gasp tackle to force the error.
Jonny May has been everywhere during a frustrating first half in Newcastle.
Here’s hoping there’s no holding him back in the second half!🤞 pic.twitter.com/rOcCZsFWuO
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) September 6, 2019
The visitors continued to frustrate England in defence as the scoreboard remained the same but for Farrell adding three more points in the 20th minute when Mattia Bellini was caught offside.
Just before half-time local boy Mark Wilson, cheered on ferociously by a partisan home support in Newcastle, came so close to a roof-raising try when he knocked on at the end of a flowing move, Saracens’ Billy Vunipola combining with May who found Wasps lock Joe Launchbury before releasing Wilson.
It was a battling first half of few chances but a further score was added when Farrell kicked over from 40 metres out after Braam Steyn was caught offside to see the hosts into a 9-0 lead at the break.
Farrell missed another chance at three points from the off in the second half but England then registered the first try of the match when Youngs put the finishing touches on a fine move, planting the ball down after superb carries from Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler and Genge.
After waiting the entire first half for a try Harlequins centre Marchant provided another for the hosts nine minutes later, Youngs starting the break and turning provider as he fed to Marchant who surged past his marker and ran clear.
Full time at St James’ Park and England have beaten Italy 🌹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) September 6, 2019
England pressed for more as the game opened up and, but for a knock-on and a forward pass, would have had their third try earlier but still it came just over ten minutes from time when Genge touched down after a powerful maul punished a tired-looking Italy.
Watson next added a fourth try, using his pace to fire his way through the Italy defence and wrap up a comfortable win.