Seven-up Saxons triumph at Sixways

James Simpson-Daniel struck twice as England Saxons – for whom Worcester lock Graham Kitchener impressed throughout – ran in seven sparkling tries to get their international season off to a sensational start against Italy A at the home of the Warriors.

The Gloucester wing – who won the last of his 10 England caps in 2007 – was followed over the line by newcomers James Gaskell and Manu Tuilagi and senior internationals Ugo Monye, Mike Brown and Paul Hodgson with Stephen Myler adding four conversions in front of a partisan Sixways crowd.

The Azzurri had their moments, battering away at the Saxons from close range and breaking some midfield tackles, but it took over an hour for Paolo Buso to get over the line with Riccardo Bocchino adding a conversion and penalty and Giulio Toniolatti’s interception effort came in the dying seconds.

The Saxons fielded five new caps – Joe Marler, Christian Day and Gaskell up front and the Leicester Tigers combination of Billy Twelvetrees and Tuilagi in midfield – against an experienced Italian outfit with the likes of Marco Bortolami and Josh Sole in their pack.

They weathered some early pressure – Andrea Pratichetti making one burst up the middle and Bortolami secure at the lineout – before striking from a quickly-taken midfield free kick. Monye burst into the line 40 metres out and bumped away one tackler before twisting through a second to score with Myler converting from wide on the right.

Bocchino replied immediately with a penalty when the Saxons were caught offside but they pulled further away with their next attack, driving close to the left-hand corner before Twelvetrees and Kitchener’s long passes put Gaskell away to score on his debut.

England were troubled up the middle by both Pratichetti brothers and didn’t have things all their own way with Bocchino missing a penalty chance five minutes before the interval but they struck for a third time from deep, Brown’s long break and pressure on the line followed by a neat Twelvetrees inside ball opening up room for the full back to get over the line.

A third Myler conversion made it 21-3 at the break and three tries in the third quarter put them out of sight. Simpson-Daniel finished in the corner, then opened up through the middle to give Tuilagi the chance to batter his way over. Captain Chris Robshaw’s lengthy inside pass then put replacement scrum half Hodgson over under the posts.

In between the scoring the Saxons spent a long spell on their own line – props Marler and Alex Corbisiero both doing some damaging work in the tackle – before Italy got over on the left at last when full back Buso skidded in 15 minutes from time.

Simpson-Daniel then streaked up the right to score his second and take England past the 40-point mark before Toniolatti stole away when they lost control of the ball during an ambitious final attack.