- Italy - Tries: Ruzza, Conversions: Sillari
- England - Tries: Bern, Hunter 3, Cleall, Dow, Kildunne Conversions: Daley-Mclean 2, Pens: Daley-Mclean
England Women opened their 2018 Six Nations campaign with a bonus-point win against Italy as the Red Roses ran in seven tries in Reggio Emilia in a 42-7 victory.
Sarah Bern crossed off the back of an impressive driving maul for England to open the scoring after six minutes, but Italy were level just before half-time when Valentina Ruzza went over from close range, as the game was finely poised at 7-7.
England though pulled away after the break with fly half Katy Daley-Mclean's simple penalty starting the scoring as the Red Roses regained the lead.
Captain Sarah Hunter was at the back of another maul and collapsed over the line, before Poppy Cleall finished a flowing move on the right for England's third.
Abigail Dow scored her sixth try in three caps for the bonus-point score, Hunter's second came off a powerful short run, Ellie Kildunne burst through for the sixth before Hunter scored her hat-trick off the back of a disrupted scrum.
It was on an emotional night in November that Red Roses skipper reached a century of caps for her country and now the No 8 has reached that milestone in points.
Hunter's first second half try against Italy was her 20th for her country taking her to 100 points overall, with her second from a good running angle and her third came with the final play of the match, as England pushed Italy off a put in to their own scrum and pounced on the loose ball.
It was the usual industrious, busy performance from the 32-year-old who got through a lot of ball carrying on the night and was busy in defence.
Hunter, who was winning her 102nd cap, made her England debut in 2007 and has been a mainstay in the side during her 11-year international career.
A feature of the Red Roses over 2017 was their impressive contributions from set pieces using the power of the forwards and it was on show again in Italy.
Four of the six tries scored were by forwards as their low body positions and well-drilled routines caused their opponents problems all evening.
England's power was shown off in the final few minutes when they drove 20 metres to be held up over the line off the back of a lineout.
"We changed it at half time, and it didn’t take a lot, it was just getting the team to understand that everything going wrong was our doing and we just had to look after the ball better, create continuity to break up their defence up a little bit," said head coach Simon Middleton.
"Then just have a bit more patience and be more clinical in their 22 when we got there and we did – we were fantastic in the second half.
"There are some really good lessons in there for us as a team and individuals.
“Poppy has been outstanding for Sarries all year and she got stronger as the game went on, she is a great ball-carrier, and that is a major part of her role, she showed that today - she was relentless.”
England are next back at the Twickenham Stoop in London on Saturday 10 February against a Wales side who also won their Six Nations opener, after they beat Scotland 18-17.
They will then face trips to Scotland and France before returning to England where they will play against Irelando n Friday 16 March in a double header with the men's Under 20 side at Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
England - 15 Ellie Kildunne, 14 Abigail Dow, 13 Lauren Cattell, 12 Rachael Burford, 11 Danielle Waterman, 10 Katy Daley-Mclean, 9 Leanne Riley; 1 Rochelle Clark, 2 Lark Davies, 3 Sarah Bern, 4 Abbie Scott, 5 Tamara Taylor, 6 Poppy Cleall, 7 Marlie Packer, 8 Sarah Hunter ©.
16 Amy Cokayne, 17 Vickii Cornborough, 18 Justine Lucas, 19 Rowena Burnfield, 20 Izzy Noel-Smith, 21 Caity Mattinson, 22 Zoe Harrison, 23 Charlotte Pearce.
Italy - 15 Manuela Furlan, 14 Sofia Stefan, 13 Michela Sillari, 12 Beatrice Rigoni, 11 Maria Magatti, 10 Veronica Madia, 9 Sara Barattin; 8 Isabella Locatelli, 7 Elisa Giordano, 6 Ilaria Arrighetti, 5 Valeria Fedrighi, 4 Valentina Ruzza, 3 Lucia Gai, 2 Melissa Bettoni, 1 Eleonora Ricci.
16 Silvia Turani, 17 Giorgia Durante, 18 Michela Merlo, 19 Giordana Duca, 20 Beatrice Veronese, 21 Arianna Corbucci, 22 Jessica Busato, 23 Aura Muzzo.Tickets for Red Roses v Wales