England belatedly got to grips with innovative tactics by Italy and pulled clear in the second half for a 36-15 bonus-point win in the Six Nations today, extending the team's national-record streak of victories to 17.
This was a real scare for England, which started the defense of its Six Nations title with narrow wins over France and Wales. But a second straight Grand Slam is on - and the team is within one more victory of matching New Zealand's tier-one record of 18 straight wins.
The Italians - huge underdogs for the game - held a halftime lead at Twickenham for the first time after confusing England by not contesting the breakdown, freeing their players to get beyond the ruck line and block any passes behind the tackle area. So bewildered were England's players that they were asking French referee Romain Poite how to counter the tactic.
Starting the second half 10-5 behind because of a 40th-minute try from Italy center Giovanbattista Venditti, England scored two early tries in three minutes through Danny Care and Elliot Daly to go 17-10 ahead, only for Italy's Michele Campagnaro to barge through poor defending for a 61st-minute try.
Replacement wing Jack Nowell (twice) and center Ben Te'o scored tries in the final 12 minutes to see off the Azzurri, who have lost all 23 of their international matches against England.
It was a record-tying 10th straight win in the Six Nations for England, a feat achieved also by the English from 1882-86 and 1922-25. Italy has now lost 10 Six Nations games in a row.
Uruguay 60-3 (RWC)
South Africa 37-21
v Scotland, Twickenham
v Ireland, Dublin