3 June 2018
London Irish’s Ben Loader bagged himself a brace of tries on his return to action following injury, while fellow Exiles Tom Parton and Rory Brand also got in on the act as England U20s made it two wins out of two in the World Rugby U20 Championship with a 43-5 victory over Italy.
The Exiles had four representatives in the starting XV, Josh Basham the other Exile wearing the red rose with pride.
Having beaten Argentina 39-18 in their opening fixture of the tournament, they followed that up with an emphatic seven-try triumph against the Azzurri.
Italy, who defeated Scotland in their opening fixture, responded through Antoine Koffi but it was all they could muster in a half dominated by Steve Bates’ side.
Second-half scores from Smith, Gabriel Ibitoye and Brand added gloss to an impressive performance from England but the game ended on a sour note with lock Sam Lewis red carded for an illegal tackle.
England thought they had an early try after a penalty was kicked to the corner and after several phases Ben Curry barged over, only for it to be disallowed because of the grounding.
Soon after they were over, with Smith jinking his way to the try line and dotting down under the posts before converting his own score.
A second try came via Parton after neat handling and a Tom Willis break eventually released England’s full-back to go over with Smith again kicking the extras.
A neat break in midfield by Smith eventually saw Loader go over for a third converted try inside 30 minutes.
Koffi finished off an Italy break from inside their own half, but, before the break, Loader sealed the bonus-point after going over in the corner.
Hooker Gabriel Oghre and lock James Scott were introduced early in the second half as England's dominance continued with Ibitoye producing a fine finish in the corner for a fifth try.
Smith collected a loose ball just inside Italy's half to run in his second try, also converting the score for 38-5 while Brand nipped in at the corner.
Lewis was sent off late on for his high challenge but England saw out the rest of the game with ease.
England now end their pool B fixtures against Scotland on Thursday in Beziers (Thursday, 7 June, KO 8pm BST), with the game being streamed live by worldrugby.org.
“It was a really good first 50 minutes,” said Bates.
“We put a lot of pressure on Italy, scored seven tries and probably could have scored a couple more.
“It was a really important step forward but we know we can improve and there is lots to come from this side.
“We know Scotland will be a really tough challenge, but so far so good.
“We are disappointed with the red card late on, and we will have to await the outcome of that.
“I thought we put them under a lot of pressure up front, we scrummaged really well and that set the platform. We took our opportunities in the first half and despite the game becoming slightly fragmented in the second period I'm still satisfied with the performance.”
England U20s side to play Italy
15. Tom Parton (London Irish), 14. Gabriel Ibitoye (Harlequins), 13. Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), 12. Will Butler (Worcester Warriors), 11. Ben Loader (London Irish), 10. Marcus Smith (Harlequins), 9. Rory Brand (London Irish),1. Alex Seville (Gloucester Rugby), 2. Henry Walker (Gloucester Rugby), 3. Joe Heyes (Leicester Rugby), 4. Joel Kpoku (Saracens), 5. Sam Lewis (Leicester Tigers), 6. Tom Willis (Wasps Rugby), 7. Ben Curry - captain (Sale Sharks), 8. Josh Basham (London Irish)
16. Gabriel Oghre (Wasps Rugby), 17. Ciaran Knight (Gloucester Rugby), 18. Ehren Painter (Northampton Saints), 19. James Scott (Worcester Warriors), 20. Aaron Hinkley (Gloucester Rugby), 21. Ben White (Leicester Tigers), 22. Tom Hardwick (Leicester Tigers), 23. Jordan Olowofela (Leicester Tigers)
England U20 fixtures
England 39-18 Argentina
England 43-5 Italy
England v Scotland
Thursday 7 June, KO 8pm BST – highlights on ITV 4 (midnight)
Stade de la Méditerranée, Beziers
Semi-finals and ranking play-offs - Narbonne and Perpignan, 12 June
Finals day - Beziers, 17 June