Autumn Internationals 2018: England Player Ratings Versus South Africa

England Rugby

Alec Hepburn   5

Struggled at scrum-time and unable to influence proceedings in the loose.

Dylan Hartley   7
Strong showing from England’s co-captain. Led his pack well through a tough opening 40 minutes, hit his targets at line-out time and carried well throughout. Had the better of Marx.

Kyle Sinckler   6
Excellent in the loose, and did the hard yards as well with strong tackling and carrying. Had a tough time in the scrum however.

Maro Itoje   7
Was his usual busy self, contributing with ball in hand including one strong burst midway through second half. Paid the price for England’s repeated infringements with yellow card.

George Kruis   7
Excellent at the lineout and played a big part in defence when England were under the cosh, whilst also providing some ballast with his carrying. Looking back to his best.

Brad Shields   6
Mixed afternoon on Twickenham debut for Wasps man. Carried and tackled well throughout, but guilty of squandering try-scoring opportunity in second half.

Tom Curry   7
Got through a mountain of work before having to leave pitch early due to injury.

Mark Wilson   8
The pick of the forward pack, Wilson led the way with his tackling and carrying showing great resilience throughout to keep Springboks at bay. Industrious display.

Ben Youngs   7
Intelligent display from the scrum-half. Tactical kicking relieved pressure on his pack in bruising first-half, and kept the ball moving quickly when given the chance. Faded a bit towards the end.

Owen Farrell   8
Another excellent display from England’s talisman. Given chance to lead from 10 and didn’t disappoint, especially in second half when given more opportunities in attack. Showed some nice touches with ball in hand, kept scoreboard ticking over and stood up in defence when needed. Fortunate to get away with late hit.

Jonny May   8
Influential display from one of England’s most improved players. Had little chance to use his blistering pace in attack early on, but as game opened up the Tigers winger came to the fore and was at the heart of England’s best play in attack.

Ben Teo   5
Looked like a player who hasn’t played much rugby this season. Unable to get over the gainline, and besides one big hit in second half quieter than usual in defence.

Henry Slade   6
Frustrating afternoon, didn’t get as much ball as he would have hoped. Crucial intervention in first-half to stop potential Springbok try.

Jack Nowell   7
A real nuisance for the Springboks with his dogged defence, and contributed in attack with smart running and quick feet.

Elliot Daly   7
Used his boot to good effect in first-half to help out his forward pack. Had more chances in attack second-half, showing some nice footwork but decision-making let him down at times.


Jamie George   7
Provided customary impact from the bench with a couple of big tackles.

Ben Moon   7
Impressive debut off the bench from the Chiefs prop. Brought more stability in the scrum and did his bit in defence with some big tackles. Could well come in for the start next week.

Harry Williams   6
Anchored the scrum well after replacing Sinckler in final quarter.

Charlie Ewels   6
Latecomer off the bench but slotted in well in defence to help preserve narrow lead

Zach Mercer   7
Highly impressive test debut off the bench. Replaced Curry early in the second-half and brought some real energy and attacking impetus to English back-row. Provided greater balance and subtlety in back-row.

Danny Care   7
Buzzed around the fringes to good effect late on, providing England with momentum in attack, and kept the Springbok defence on their heels.

George Ford   6
Had little chance to shine in attack when introduced for the final quarter.

Chris Ashton   6
Like Ford not much opportunity to impress with ball-in-hand but went looking for the ball all the time and looked sharp.

By Jon Davies

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

21 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals 2018: England Player Ratings Versus South Africa

  1. Kruis back to his best? Really? He’ll be lucky to start another test, not the same since the lions tour…

    1. I thought Kruis was decent, and deserves credit for his lineout work. Malcolm Marx has been blamed for missing his jumpers, but Kruis and Itoje put him under a lot of pressure so that there was no safe throw and any ‘underthrow’ would have been stolen.

      1. ‘Could’ have, not ‘would’.. unless you’ve a crystal ball. Marx over threw x3 by a million where there were NO jumpers. Do think he hasn’t been under pressure before, like in his last 2 v NZ? He had an off day. It happens. Not all down to Kruis, Itoje. Some, that’s all.

        1. Good lord I agree with Don.
          Itoje and Kruis were good but a lot of that was down to Marx on his lonesome. He did not have a good day in the office – and not just at the lineout. He didn’t seem to be the usual force in the tight as well
          JIMP – I too thought Kruis had a good game. Solid in the lineout, made his tackles, hit rucks and even carried a bit. Not bad

      2. Totally agree Hutch, I was very surprised that the commentators didn’t spot how difficult they were making it for Marx, said as much to my wife who asked what’s a lineout?

  2. It would be an interesting exercise to have done scores at half time – and then compared them to the scores at the end of the game!
    The second half was so much better for a number of players – Sinckler grew into the scrummaging, Itoje stopped giving away silly penalties, Youngs’ kicking got more accurate and he mixed it up with some passes as well, Te’o actually got into the game rather than being a bystander and some of the replacements – Moon and Mercer in particular – were excellent.
    I think the score for Daly is at least 3 points too high. He had an appalling game, spilling a number of high balls and missing two gilt edged try scoring chances by not passing. Proof I think that he is not an international fullback – hardly a shocker given he never plays there for his club.
    To score him the same as Nowell, who had a great game and seems to be every inch the international winger, is a travesty.
    For me next game – Daly to 13 (Slade wasn’t bad but this wasn’t the showing needed to cement his place). Brown back to 15. Can’t imagine this will happen though and Barrett will ruthlessly target Daly with kicks.
    PS – unlike many I thought Shields was pretty decent. A real nuisance at the breakdown. Shame he threw that awful pass though

    1. Good post and I agree with most you say other than Daly who you are a bit harsh about, but I agree he doesn’t yet look comfortable at 15. I also have to agree that against the ABs I would be happier to see Brown’s safer if more limited game. Then again perhaps Eddie Jones is happier to go for weaker defence but greater scoring ability and those massive kicks.

    2. Totally agree about Mike Brown. In the past EJ has been his biggest supporter and the NZ confrontation is a perfect fit for him. Daly does however seem to have EJs favour, so there does need to be a space to fit him into, so why not 13. Manu and Daly in the centres does have a certain appeal.

      Anyway, enjoy the day Pabs you lucky git???

  3. I can only imagine Kruis benefited from Shields and he looking so similar at a glance, that you chaps thought he was omnipresent… As for sinckler, bad day at the office scrum wise, seems clear to me he’s a finisher not a starter… I’d bring lawes in for Kruis, moon for heps and Williams for sinks… So pleased Wilson showed what we’ve been missing by choosing robshaw over him… Make those changes and I think we’ll be competive for the first 40 against the abs… Mercer looks comfortable enough to start, but would be tempted by underhills ability to keep it tight in the gain line first 50mins

  4. Almost wonder if I was watching the same game. Daly was poor under the high ball and butchered a shoo-in try but gets a 7? He is a centre not a full back and should not have been playing there. No more than a 4. Hartley got the better of Marx? Marx didn´t have a good game and his throwing was decidedly off, but he popped Hartley out of the top on at least two occasions as well as taking a ball against the head and carrying far more effectively. England had far more go forward when George came on. Agree about Hepburn. Sinkler got mangled in the tight by Kitshoff and Moon and Williams are a far more convincing starting pair. Ben Youngs a 7? His box kicking in the first half was diabolical. Almost every one went five metres too far and was as good as a pass. His passing is slower than Care and gives his 10 less room. Someone like De Klerk behind a pack in as much trouble as we were in would have been chivvying, chasing and harrying around the fringes but Youngs gives none of that. No more than a 4. Kruis is a decent lineout jumper but doesn´t get us across the gain line often enough, jury is still out on Shields, Itoje worth only a 6 maximum because he got binned and gave away a couple of stupid penalties. Wilson is a proper, hard-nosed forward of the type we need more of and deserved his 8, and Mercer looked very lively. I thought that the game turned on the injury to Etzebeth. Until then we were getting outpowered.

    1. Generally agree, AL & you don’t hold back. Make me a bit better about myself. May have been a mite hard marks wise with a couple, but It was interesting that you omitted Farrell for comment. His being the ‘spiritual’ leader’ and all. Why so?

      1. I thought an 8 was so self-evidently wrong that it didn’t need comment Don. Hard to mark a 10 who is playing behind a badly beaten pack for the first half, has a scrum half with slow hands inside him and a centre who has hardly played outside, but if his hit in the last minute had been punished as it should have been his score would have been about three for throwing the game away at the death.

        1. AL, a 3 eh? That much? I find it hard to find any particular performances that good, or bad. The scrummagers up front were less difficult to assess I suppose. Collectively is easier.

  5. I’m sorry but your comment on Dylan Hartley is clearly based on nothing. The stats show he had 0 runs for 0 metres made…

    So how he “carried well throughout” I don’t know.

  6. Always find this rating bizzo difficult, as I only recall fragments of games let alone how individuals perform. Wilson e.g., got MotM award @ seems to have been an all round good egg on the pitch. But I couldn’t particularly distinguish his efforts from the rest of the back row, or pack for that matter. Not stating that he didn’t earn his award, sure he did as the consensus attests. However, with the pack in reverse for much of the match, how do some rate so highly? If England had lost it @ the end, would this have had a bearing on ratings I wonder? The starting props rated modestly, presumably as they are deemed to have folded @ scrum. OTOH, the locks, who were rated more favourably, also had to provide grunt, as did the back row, including Wilson @ scrum time. Therefore 7’s & an 8 may have been accurate, or a mite generous? Likewise in the backs, it was again hard for me to distinguish between many & of rating them. May & Farrell, whom got 8’s, were also AWOL for the SA try & responsible for a high risk shoulder charge, respectively. Additionally, in respect of the try, as none were scored by England & which may be a concern for England on Saturday, these ratings may also be a tad questionable. What Farrell actually did throughout the match seemed merely relatively competent to me, the incident @ the death apart of course. In any event, as stated, these ratings are a tricky thing to gauge for me.

  7. The ‘Boks were 15>>20 points better than England, in approach. For some weird reason they could not finish. Marx did not have a good day. He cannot, alone, be blamed for the loss. I do believe if the game was played again next Saturday, The “Boks would smack England by 20 points.

  8. The former England Women’s full back wrote an interesting piece on Daly at full back for England the other day on BBC – fair comment from her and others than how will he learn the timings, spacings and generally improve as a full back if he never plays there at club level. If Le Roux leaves at the end of his contract, maybe Daly will play there – but Watson will be back by then. Daly is cursed like Austin Healy in that he can play multiple positions – wing, outside centre and full back – but when everyone is fit how will he nail one down unless he’s playing there at club level. Would he out Joseph for England at 13 or Watson at 15? I think his best chance is to make right wing his own in competition with Nowell and Ashton.
    As for Kruis – solid if unspectacular is his style. He likely won’t let you down but he’s no Itoje, Lawes or Launchbury (although gives away less penalties than Itoje!)


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