Writing the Player Ratings is so much easier when the overall performance is higher, and doing these made me realise that we forgot last week in the misery of the 1st Test shambles.
Ben Foden – 7
Played with his usual freedom and ran with the ball more, although was well-handled by the Australians and didn’t really get a chance to break free. Reassuringly comfortable under the high ball and a successful breakthrough into the side this season.
Chris Ashton – 8
Took his try brilliantly to remind us what deadly finishing we’ve been seeing from him in a Saints shirt. Also defended very well, ushering his opposite man into touch on several occasions.
Mike Tindall – 7
Led the defensive line effectively and was a lot better than last week. Silly reverse pass to lose the ball when England were going forward, but you can forgive that because seeing some invention and ambition to keep the ball alive is refreshing – if it had gone to hand and they’d scored, he’d be getting a 9!
Shontayne Hape – 7
A much more effective game, regularly drawing two defenders in attack and offloading nicely. When England play with pace, his handling skills can be an asset and with time he might grow into the side, but I’m still not convinced he is what we need at 12. Olly Barkley would get the nod for the next Test.
Mark Cueto – 7
Didn’t light up the game with searing breaks as he has done recently, but still very effective. His kicking game was markedly improved and found touch when clearing, rather than James O’Connor.
Toby Flood – 6
Not a bad game from Flood but it didn’t look particularly special, although he should take some credit for the pace with which England played. It’s difficult to know how much to attribute to the 10, but perhaps if Jonny had been standing deep, the backs wouldn’t have looked so good.
Ben Youngs – 9
What a game. Looked remarkably confident in his first full start, and not afraid to tell the forwards what to do, and that the static pop move is rubbish. Showed great pace to score the first try, his passing was a joy to watch, and his box kicks were significantly better than Care’s last week. This should be a lesson to Johnno to pick on form and potential.
Nick Easter – 5
Played better than last week, but still not great. Had a 20-yard run up to gather pace for one of his carries, but still couldn’t find any gas and was tackled easily and turned over. He still hasn’t had a chance to show off his hands, but if England continue to play a fast game, a faster No. 8 might be in order.
Lewis Moody – 9
The captain had a phenomenal game, and set the tone early on with a great hit on Quade Cooper. Tackled demonically throughout the game, and characterised the fighting spirit of the side, whilst dominating the breakdown and keeping David Pocock quiet.
Tom Croft – 9
At last, we saw Croft play like we know he can. Invaluable asset in the lineout, and got stuck in in the loose with some important, yard-gaining carries. I didn’t catch him out on the wing at all, and his dynamism in England’s pack is essential.
Tom Palmer – 8
I’m beginning to change my mind about Palmer, which is no mean feat because I’m stubborn. Showed again that he can pass and catch pretty well, which can’t be said for all front five players used this season, and his lineout presence was better than usual.
Courtney Lawes – 8
Lived up to the billing we’ve given him on The Rugby Blog, thankfully. Like Croft, his pace and dynamism when carrying the ball seems to make vital hard yards, and he made one or two big tackles as well.
Dan Cole – 7
Couldn’t decide between 7 or 8, because Cole has been the foundation on which England’s scrum has been built, and when it is so dominant, he deserves a lot of credit. He could be England’s player of 2010 so far, and with Sheridan back at 1, England has a massive front row again.
Steve Thompson – 7
A solid game, particularly with his lineout throwing, and was obviously getting under the skin of the Aussie front row. I prefer the manner in which Cole dominates his opposite man, without the childish grinning that could get him sin-binned, but Thommo has been looking pretty handy again.
Tim Payne – 6
Hard to criticise in a dominant pack, but he really is just keeping the jersey warm. Anonymous in the loose even when England were on the front foot and was actually penalised a couple of times in the scrum.
Why did Danny Care come on? And why did Delon Armitage come on? Both were more of a liability than an asset. Jonny was a solid replacement, despite his missed kick, and Shawsy might have found his position as impact sub.