England v Italy, player ratings: Anthony Watson makes key contribution but Ben Youngs below his best

England were much improved but not every player sparkled

England's Anthony Watson scores their sides fourth try during the Guinness Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium,
Credit: PA

England bounced back from the disappointment of losing to Scotland with a convincing victory over Italy at Twickenham. Eddie Jones' side were more fluent and here Charlie Morgan runs the rule over the individual performances. 

England player ratings

15. Elliot Daly

Threw a horrible pass with his first touch before improving, linking a few sweeping attacks and scoring late. Short of his best, and not alone there 6

14. Anthony Watson

Made two dancing runs before his first try. His second arrived from an interception that constituted a fantastic piece of defence, because England were in trouble 8

13. Henry Slade

Far more involved than in previous Test outings, enjoying some space to roam. Perhaps slightly uncertain in defence against an intrepid Italy effort 6

12. Owen Farrell

Caught narrow for Italy’s try while attempting to buy a penalty. Settled thereafter, his distribution offering width. Two handling errors but tracked back to tackle Monty Ioane 6

11. Jonny May

Back to his busiest in the first half. Sent Slade down the touchline with a deft flick and finished acrobatically later. Quieter in the second period 7

10. George Ford

Unfussy and zippy on his return to the starting fly-half berth. May have looked even better with a powerful line-runner somewhere in the back division 6  

9. Ben Youngs

Fluffed a pass to May to spoil a promising strike-move in the first half and lacked conviction whenever England’s phase-play lost a bit of momentum 5

Not all of Ben Youngs' passes came off Credit: Getty Images

1. Mako Vunipola

It would have been worrying for Eddie Jones to see him icing his left foot after coming off because he is an influential presence around this side 6

2. Luke Cowan-Dickie

Stripped in contact a couple of times and conceded a breakdown penalty, but demonstrated his value as a ball-carrier – even taking a quick-tap 6

3. Kyle Sinckler

Added verve, incessantly geeing up those around him. Also brought intelligent, skilful touches on the gain-line. Should grow into the rest of the tournament 7

4. Maro Itoje

Remains a barometer of England’s energy, particularly in defence. Itoje conceded two penalties, although there a few trademark turnovers in the tackle 6

5. Jonny Hill

Fitting that his first Test try came from a pick and go. More surprising, and encouraging, was a neat scoring pass to Watson. Solid elsewhere 7

6. Courtney Lawes

Perhaps unlucky to concede the game’s first penalty. Defended muscularly, as we know he can. Was the balance right for England’s attacking game, though? 6

Courtney Lawes in the thick of things at Twickenham Credit: Shutterstock

7. Tom Curry

More accurate than last week and typically industrious, although missed a clear-out on Johan Meyer will have frustrated him. Took up slack on the ball-carrying front 7

8. Billy Vunipola

Fortunate to get away with a turnover Stephen Varney from what looked like an offside position but then charged-down Paolo Garbisi legitimately. Quiet in attack again 5

Replacements

16. Jamie George (on for Cowan-Dickie, 52)

Entered the fray as things grew manic in the final half hour. Did bring some control, but there is an interesting decision at hooker for the Wales game 6

17. Ellis Genge (on for M Vunipola, 52)

Endured a torrid time at the scrum, where he was collared three times by referee Mike Adamson 5

18. Will Stuart (on for Sinckler, 74)

Just six minutes for last week’s starting tighthead N/A

19. Charlie Ewels (on for Hill, 51)

Business-like fare from Ewels in the second half, but England did not pull away convincingly 6

20. Ben Earl (on for B Vunipola, 59)

Time for a start? Earl hung wide when he was introduced, which is an intriguing proposition 6

21. Jack Willis (on for Lawes, 59)

Added his second international try and then suffered what appeared to be a very serious injury, twisting awkwardly at a breakdown N/A

22. Dan Robson (on for Youngs, 50)

Sniped and slalomed beautifully prior to Willis’ score, generally lifting the pace against a tired defence 7

23. Max Malins (on for Willis, 65)

Another short cameo in which we learned little about his potential to cement a starting place N/A