Itoje and Tuilagi lead England to impressive warm-up win over Ireland
British & Irish Lions lock Maro Itoje produced a stunning all-round display while Manu Tuilagi also caught the eye as England continued their World Cup preparations by downing Ireland in fine fashion at Twickenham.
Itoje crossed for a try – only the second of his burgeoning international career – stole ball at the breakdown and in the lineout, tackled everything that moved and played the full 80 minutes in a fine individual display.
England were comfortable winners in south west London, Itoje’s fellow Lions Elliot Daly, George Kruis and man of the match Tuilagi also dotting down in the victory.
Breakout stars Joe Cokanasiga (2) and Tom Curry also chipped in with tries for the Red Rose who now head north to St James’ Park for their final warm-up game against Italy with a spring in their step.
Ireland scored the game’s opening try through Jordan Larmour but will be counting the cost of their walking wounded after this defeat.
Lions Conor Murray and Cian Healy both limped off during the first half of the heavy defeat although Bundee Aki did go over late for an Irish consolation.
Ohhhhhhhh @maroitoje 🌹
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 24, 2019
Jacob Stockdale’s chip and chase produced the game’s first try, the ball sitting up for Larmour behind a back-pedalling English defence.
But England soon got to work, Tuilagi running a decoy line and allowing Cokanasiga to get clear down the right for their first score.
Another big carry from Tuilagi then set up Daly, fed by Curry, to canter over for their second although Ross Byrne – making his full debut in the absence of Lion Jonathan Sexton, did slot a penalty in between.
But England’s third score arrived before the break and it was Tuilagi barging over from short range after an attacking scrum.
At the start of the second half, Itoje capped an awesome showing by cutting a hard line off Ben Youngs to go under the posts.
Then it was his second row partner Kruis who charged over after Jonny May had gone close down the left.
Curry then went over, fed by back-row buddy Sam Underhill who was released by a fine pass from Lion Kyle Sinckler, and England were 43-10 in front before the hour mark.
The half century came up in the final quarter when Cokanasiga went charging through after Ford and Farrell again combined nicely in midfield.
Aki went over late on, shrugging off Itoje and rounding Daly, but the damage was done by then and Luke Cowan-Dickie made it a record England win late on.
The only damp point for England would be the potential injury to Mako Vunipola who was making his first game back after a lengthy lay-off.