England U20 scored seven tries as they beat Italy U20 42-7 on Friday evening.
It was the perfect response from England after they had been beaten by a strong Scotland side last week, leaving them looking for a good performance and scoreline in this game.
Hooker Jack Singleton was the star of the show, scoring an incredible four tries. The hooker was expected to be kept out of the team by Yorkshire Carnegie’s Jack Walker, but the England U20 captain had picked up an injury, allowing Singleton the starting shirt.
He certainly took advantage, scoring twice either side of the break, despite some torrid conditions.
Indeed conditions made the first ten to fifteen minutes of the first half more of a scrum-fest than anything else, with plenty of slips and spills, but with England spending the bulk of the game in Italian territory, opportunities seemed likely.
So it was to prove on the twenty minute mark as England earned a five metre lineout, which they drove towards the line for Singleton to claim his first.
Singleton really was the star man, he followed up on his try with some lovely handling to release debutant Max Malins to race away for a try, the former Felsed man showing lovely footwork and speed.
There was more to come from Singleton yet though, as with five minutes remaining in the half following some excellent handing from the England backs, Singleton burst through the middle to secure his brace and send his side into the break with a 17-0 lead.
The second half saw England pick up right where they left off, as George Perkins took advantage of a helpful bounce from a delicate Max Malins kick to race away for the defence. Marchant’s conversion taking Englan just shy of the quarter-century.
Then came Singleton’s hat-trick, and what a gloriously taken try it was too. The Worcester Warriors hooker took the ball out wide, showed a little dummy and then squirted over, much to the obvious joy of his teammates.
His side were scoring points again soon after, this time through a Marchant penalty after a high tackle on Charlie Thacker saw Italy receive a yellow card. Italy dealt with the yellow card well though, and actually scored their only points of the game during the sin-bin period as the enormous Gabriele Venditi, surely a relative of Louis Picamoles, absolutely barrelled over.
The conversion narrowed the scores to 32-7, but within a couple of minutes England were back into their flow, Singleton getting an amazing fourth try of the evening off a lineout move five metres from the Italian line.
Then came the subs, and with that the game broke up a little, as is often the case. England still had time to find another score though, and once again it came through a hooker. This time though it was Curtis Langdon, the young London Irish hooker had come on for Singleton to make his debut and had clearly been watching the Worcester man!
Marchant’s conversion slipped wide, but it mattered not, England had bounced back from last week in style, securing a 42-7 win in what were absolutely atrocious conditions, not conducive to running or high scoring rugby at all.
With Ireland at home to come in a fortnight’s time though, England will be feeling much more confident now.
Full Time: Italy U20 7-42 England U20
Elsewhere there was plenty of drama in Wales as fresh from their outstanding win over Ireland, they hosted Scotland, who so brilliantly beat England last week.
Scotland were on top from once again, and led 15-5 going into the break, but Wales were carrying their momentum from last week too. They clawed their way back to 15-15, and then with a minute left on the clock secured a kickable penalty, which Billy McBryde slotted to break Scottish hearts.
France meanwhile beat Ireland 34-13 to keep their place at the top of the table, where they are level on points with Wales but far ahead on points difference. The situation at the top will alter after the next round though as Wales host France on Saturday 27th February, after which only one will be in the hunt for the Grand Slam.
England U20 XV
15 Max Malins (Saracens)
14 George Perkins (Saracens)
13 Joe Marchant (Harlequins)
12 Charlie Thacker (Leicester Tigers)
11 Ollie Thorley (Gloucester Rugby)
10 Mathew Protheroe (Gloucester Rugby)
9 Max Green (Yorkshire Carnegie)
1 Tom West (Wasps)
2 Jack Singleton (Worcester Warriors)
3 Will Stuart (Wasps)
4 Huw Taylor (Worcester Warriors)
5 George Nott (Sale Sharks)
6 Zach Mercer (Bath Rugby)
7 Sam Smith (Worcester Warriors)
8 Callum Chick (Newcastle Falcons) (c)
16 Curtis Langdon (London Irish)
17 Ralph Adams-Hale (Saracens)
18 Billy Keast (Exeter Chiefs)
19 Stan South (Harlequins)
20 Jack Willis (Wasps)
21 Jamie Shillcock (Worcester Warriors)
22 Joe Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
23 Paolo Odogwu (Leicester Tigers)
Italy U20 XV
15 Erik Dho
14 Pierre Bruno
13 Roberto Dal Zilio
12 Dario Schiabel
11 Luca Speradio
10 Antonio Rizzi
9 Vincenzo Charly Ernest Trussardi
1 Daniele Rimpelli
2 Marco Manfredi
3 Marco Riccioni
4 Vittorio Alberto Mantegazza
5 Samuele Ortis
6 Davide Fragnito
7 Davide Ciotoli
8 Gabriele Venditi
16 Engjel Makelara
17 Damiano Borean
18 Giosue Zilocchi
19 Leonard Krumov
20 Michael De Marco
21 Matteo Maria Panunzi
22 Peter Boris Mokom
23 Leonardo Mantelli
Ireland U20 XV:
15 Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster) 14 Matthew Byrne (Terenure College/Leinster) 13 Shane Daly (Cork Constitution/Munster) 12 Jimmy O’Brien (UCD/Leinster) 11 Conor O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster) 10 Johnny McPhillips (Queen’s University/Ulster) 9 John Poland (Cork Constitution/Munster) 1 Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster) 2 Adam McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster) 3 Conor Kenny (Buccaneers/Connacht) 4 Peter Claffey (Galwegians/Connacht) 5 James Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster) (c) 6 Cillian Gallagher (Sligo/Connacht) 7 Dan Walsh (Cork Constitution/Munster) 8 Max Deegan (Lansdowne/Leinster).
Replacements: 16 Shane Fenton (Young Munster/Munster) 17 James Bollard (Dublin University/Leinster) 18 Conan O’Donnell (Sligo/Connacht) 19 Sean O’Connor (Cashel/Munster) 20 Kelvin Brown (Shannon/Munster) 21 Stephen Kerins (Sligo/Connacht) 22 Brett Connon (Newcastle Falcons/Exiles) 23 Terry Kennedy (St. Mary’s College/Leinster).
Scotland U20 XV:
15 Ruairi Howarth 14 Darcy Graham 13 George Taylor 12 Tom Galbraith 11 Robbie Nairn 10 Rory Hutchinson 9 Hugh Fraser 1 Murray McCallum 2 Jack Kerr 3 Callum Sheldon 4 Callum Hunter-Hill 5 Scott Cummings 6 Andrew Davidson 7 Matt Smith 8 Ally Miller.
Replacements: 16 Lewis Anderson 17 Goerge Thornton 18 Adam Nicol 19 Stephen Ainslie 20 Scott Burnside 21 Charlie Shiel 22 Chris Lines 23 Ben Robbins.
Wales Under 20 XV:
15 Rhun Williams (RGC); 14 Elis-Wyn Benham (Cardiff Blues), 13 Joe Thomas (Ospreys), 12 Harri Millard (Cardiff Blues), 11 Keelan Giles (Ospreys); 10 Dan Jones (Scarlets), 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys); 1 Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Blues), 2 Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets), 3 Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), 4 Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), 5 Bryce Morgan (Newport Gwent Dragons), 6 Tom Phillips (captain, Scarlets), 7 Shaun Evans (Scarlets), 8 Harrison Keddie (Newport Gwent Dragons).
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips (Scarlets), 17 Robert Lewis (Cardiff Blues), 18 Leon Brown (Newport Gwent Dragons), 19 James Ratti (Ospreys), 20 Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues), 21 Declan Smith (Scarlets), 22 Billy McBryde (Scarlets), 23 Joe Gage (Ospreys).