George grabs hat-trick as scrappy England down Georgia

Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP) –

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Jamie George became the first England hooker to score a hat-trick of tries in a Test as they opened their Autumn Nations Cup campaign with a comfortable 40-0 win over Georgia at Twickenham on Saturday.

Six Nations champions England were out of sight at half-time, leading 26-0 after scoring four of their six tries.

Jack Willis marked his Test debut with the opening try before George crossed twice and full-back Elliot Daly went over.

The second half saw George complete his hat-trick before replacement scrum-half Dan Robson snuck over.

England captain Owen Farrell kicked five conversions.

For all that Argentina had caused a huge upset earlier Saturday by beating New Zealand in Sydney, there was an inevitability about this result even though it took England 15 minutes to open the scoring in what was Georgia's first Test at Twickenham.

The teams had only met twice before, with England enjoying comfortable 84-6 and 41-10 wins at the 2003 and 2011 World Cups.

And the omens were not promising for a Georgia side rarely exposed to top-class opposition outside of World Cups following their 48-7 loss away to Scotland last month.

An often error-strewn England, playing in their change strip of blue so as not to clash with Georgia's white, laid siege to the Lelos' line in the opening minutes and declined kickable penalties as they attempted to nullify the visitors' scrum -- the strongest part of their game.

Meanwhile the players' shouts were clearly audible in a match played behind closed doors because of coronavirus restrictions.

England's pressure eventually told when Willis, given a first cap on the back of an outstanding 2019/20 season with Wasps, was driven over for a 15th-minute try that Farrell converted.

England, last year's losing World Cup finalists, continued to play the game deep in Georgia's 22 but too often squandered promising positions by kicking possession away and knocking-on.

It was not until the 29th minute that England had their second try when George was driven over from a close-range line-out.

And four minutes later, George had his second try, again from a rolling maul.

Farrell missed the conversion but England still led 19-0.

And before half-time, England had a fourth try as their backs got in on the act.

Jonathan Joseph, playing on the wing rather than his usual centre position, cut across field and deploying a clever dummy as he burst through a gap in Georgia's midfield before releasing Daly for a well-taken try converted by Farrell.

Joseph, however, then went off injured due to a back spasm.

The second half kicked off amid an increasingly heavy downpour.

Conditions did not suit running rugby and it was no surprise when a close-range line-out drive led to George's treble in the 57th-minute.

Robson, on for veteran Ben Youngs, darted over 12 minutes from time.

England continue their Pool A campaign at home to Ireland, 32-9 winners over Wales on Friday, a week on Saturday when the Welsh look to end a run of six straight defeats against all opponents with victory over Georgia in Llanelli.

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