Centurion Ben Youngs marked his hundred-cap milestone in an England jersey with a two-try Player of the Match display in a 34-5 victory over Italy at Stadio Olimpico.
The scrum-half lit up the game with a score in either half in Rome, as England secured a bonus-point victory.
The Leicester Tigers man opened the scoring just five minutes into his side’s final match of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, before doubling his personal tally minutes after the break.
It was the perfect way to mark 100 caps for Youngs, who admitted he was trying to put the landmark occasion to the back of his mind before the game, with Championship victory still within England’s sight.
“It’s a nice milestone, but I’ve got the desire to kick on and with all these boys and all these young caps coming through, it’s exciting times to be a part of it.”
“I didn’t want to build it up too much during the week,” the Player of the Match said. “I just wanted to focus on the process of playing.
“The most important thing for us was coming here and try to do a job, but I’ll certainly reflect on it now with the boys and try to absorb what an achievement it is. I’m obviously very proud, but the most important thing for me was to play my part in this team.
Things started well for the visitors in Rome, as Youngs marked his 100th England appearance in perfect fashion by touching down after just five minutes, as Jones’ side flew out the traps.
Owen Farrell’s penalty made it a ten-point lead soon after, before Jake Polledri threw a spanner in the works when he crossed midway through the first half, as the flanker spearheaded an Italian breakaway to go over in the corner.
That made the score 10-5 going into the break, but it was the newly crowned centurion who stole the show once again just seconds after the interval, as Youngs left the Italian defence for dead with a dummy and a sidestep en route to the try line.
It was another milestone man who crossed for England’s third, as 50-cap man Jamie George latched onto the back of a surging maul to touch down with half an hour to play.
With the win all but sealed, the visitors were desperate for the all-important bonus point, and it was Tom Curry who eventually sealed the deal with just over ten minutes to play, before Henry Slade added a late fifth to pile the pressure on both Ireland and France before this evening’s grand crescendo.
Despite securing the victory, England may be left ruing a number of missed opportunities to rack up more points against Franco Smith’s side, with the Championship title set to go down to the wire.
The abrasive nature of the game came as no surprise to Youngs though, who had every faith in his side coming away from Rome with the win.
“We spoke about it before, we always felt like it was going to be a grinding down process, we were probably just a little bit enthused in the second 20 of the first half, a little bit enthused camped on our own line.
“Whatever it be, we knew if we stuck to it we would get there in the end and that was the most important thing that we did.”