England 54 – 12 Fiji: England Player Ratings

Alex Goode

15. Alex Goode – 9
Enjoyed watching Goode on his first start at Twickenham, with an elusive sidestep and turn of pace to take him through the gap. Many expected him to drop out for Mike Brown in subsequent weeks, but surely did enough to keep his place.

14. Charlie Sharples – 9
Sharples added a real bite to England’s attack that has been missing for years – opposition defenders can’t take their eyes off him because he’s quick enough to exploit any gaps. Great finish for the first try, albeit through some fairly shoddy defending.

13. Manu Tuilagi – 8
A powerful display with one memorable surge through Fiji’s defence. Will always put England on the front foot, and can play a vital part in fixing defenders, creating space and offering quick ball to use in that space.

12. Brad Barritt – 7
Another solid display, and with Goode at full-back, perhaps there is less onus on Barritt to be creative – as a straight runner and defensive rock, he does the job brilliantly.

11. Ugo Monye – 5
I don’t think it will be too difficult to bring Ashton back next week. Monye continues to be upright in contact and offered little threat out wide, particularly compared to the lightning Sharples on the other wing. Don’t remember seeing him pass either.

10. Toby Flood – 7
Must be partly responsible for the headless manner in which England’s backs started the game, but regained composure, kicked well and provided enough direction to beat what was in front of him.

9. Danny Care – 6
Marked down for a silly yellow card – it was harsh, but there’s still some element of blame, particularly when it’s in front of the touch judge. A few sloppy passes, but England needs the pace that he injects, and I’m looking forward to seeing him against Australia.

8. Thomas Waldrom – 6
A reasonable game and had plenty of opportunities, but not sure he did enough to warrant selection over Ben Morgan. Some slightly suspect handling as well, but at least he did get heavily involved.

7. Chris Robshaw – 7
Another solid game from England’s captain, although it wasn’t exactly a dogfight up front in which a 7 can come to the fore. Tackled well and made a few useful carries.

6. Tom Johnson – 8
The love for Johnson is growing by the day, and this was another effective performance. Certainly doing enough to keep his place over Tom Wood (and Tom Croft, if fit). Looking forward to seeing him against tougher opposition later this month.

5. Geoff Parling – 6
Seemed to be fairly anonymous in the loose, but deserves credit for the lineout, which is his domain, and seemed to function very well, despite being something of a concern before the match.

4. Tom Palmer – 6
Again, a quiet contribution. In a physical encounter like this, should we be looking for a more forceful presence from the second rows? Lawes and Launchbury anyone?

3. Dan Cole – 8
Seems to get better and better, not only as a dominant tighthead, but also in the loose as an extra flanker competing for the ball at every breakdown. Bring on the Wallaby pack.

2. Tom Youngs – 8
Very impressive debut and answered the critics with respect to his throwing. Hit his man every time, and popped up with several barrelling carries in the loose. Great to have some depth at hooker at last.

1. Joe Marler – 7
Dominant in the scrum, which was a key part of the mismatch between these teams. Should be licking his lips after seeing what France did to Australia up front, and he could make a name for himself.

Replacements:
I thought Mako Vunipola and particularly Joe Launchbury made a good fist of it on debut, but it wasn’t a great test for the substitutes or substitution strategy by then.

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

38 thoughts on “England 54 – 12 Fiji: England Player Ratings

  1. Generally agree. Thought Sharples made the defenders miss for his first try and showed great strength to make the line. From my vantage point Waldrom seemed to be heavily involved throughout the game, but haven’t seen tv coverage to revise that opinion. Second rows need to be much more involved.

  2. Yes I would generally agree. I tend to think I want more from my locks. I think Parling is hard to drop as he brings so much to the line out, so maybe Launchbury in for Palmer? I’m not convinced it will happen mind you.

    And yes Ashton in for Monye would make sense.

    Other than that bring on Australia!

  3. I think that “Tom Youngs” and the word “barrelling” may well become well used in the none too distant future! I think he can be exceptionally happy with his game. Hopefully he can continue it against the better sides (after Australia that is).

  4. Monye was dire to be honest. I’ve always tried to stick up for him a little bit, but it was a poor display.

    I thought Care getting 6 is a little generous. The tackle was stupid, but he had plenty of other hotheaded moments and while his darting around looks flash against Fiji, he goes without support and risks getting thoroughly isolated. To be frank, the halfback pairing of Flood and Youngs always looks far more slick and drilled and each picks up the other’s game.

    I think Waldrom and Parling had fine games. When the contest is as loose as it was you won’t notice the big carriers, I expect to see them both feature a lot more heavily in closer contests where the forwards are relied upon to carry so much. I’ve seen nothing from Ben Morgan’s Gloucester form at the minute to warrant his call up over Waldrom.

  5. I am very surprised at the love for Waldrom. Everyone I watched the game with and everyone I’ve spoken to about were unanimous in their opinion that he was pretty rubbish

    Yes he was involved a lot, but utterly ineffective. He was lumbering, often went backwards and his handling was very poor

    He reminded me of Andy Powell in that as soon as he got the ball you knew exactly what he was going to do – ie, head straight at the nearest tackler. It worries me that against sides with players like Pocock and McCaw, the result will be exactly as it used to be with Powell and he’ll get turned over time and time again.

    On another note, I now see what Lancaster was doing choosing Goode over Brown. Can’t we find somewhere else for Goode though, so we can still keep Brown involved? After all, it seemed like Goode would fit in seamlessly at scrum-half, fly-half and inside centre and probably be better than the incumbents in those positions…

    1. Could Goode play inside centre? I’ve seen him compared to Will Greenwood elsewhere, and he does seem to have similar qualities. Don’t agree with upsetting the balance to shoehorn Brown in to the squad though, I don’t think he’s a good enough player to merit that. At the moment, Goode gets the 15 shirt over Brown because he offers so much more in terms of making the rest of the squad gel. It’ll be interesting when Foden comes back in the 6N too, if he’s on form.

      1. Yes I certainly don’t think Brown demands moving Goode around to accommodate him. I think Brown may be a bit one dimensional as a full back. In saying that, he is certainly a very impressive third choice!

        And yes I agree the more interesting time will be when Foden is fit; because he is a very impressive player and does demand inclusion. Potentially use Foden as a wing; back three of Asthon, Foden, Goode? Goode wearing 15.

      2. After watching the highlights again, I wonder if Lancaster would consider starting Goode at 15, but moving him to 10, and bring Brown on at 15 if all is well at about 60 minutes. I would still keep Farrell on the bench, because it would expend on the score line. But Goode at 10 would be interesting.

  6. Also – I know it’s not usual, but let’s have a rating for referee Glenn Jackson here too. I wish more international referees were of his calibre. Calls were consistent and accurate. So much so that he was blowing the whistle pretty much every time I called a penalty.

    Very good first international game.

    1. Agreed there. He marshalled the breakdown to great effect. It would be good to see more ex-players training to become referees.

  7. Glad I defended goodes selection ahead of brown, it did not disappoint, don’t think brown has much of a shot now, he’s far too one dimensional as a player and attacker when you look at what foden and Goode offer in bringing other players in. Brown would get smashed like he did in SA. Now, I have a few problems with the team dynamic at the moment. Firstly, drop Waldron out of the matchday 23 all together, a number eight must be a link player and bring the backs in around him, not just run straight, get stopped and ruin the flow of the attack by taking the ball in and slowing the game down. One particular moment sticks in mind, ten metres from Fiji’s line, overlap outside on the right, quick ball comes and then stops at Waldron who carries straight into two big Fiji tacklers. He didn’t show any dynamism or real ball carrying threat and failed to capitalise on overlaps and bring other players in. Morgans been doing all that pretty effectively all season.
    Now, if Toby flood is selected at fly half, two gain line smashing lumps like brad and manu cannot be picked as the centres. Toby likes to run a bit and when he does that, he just eats the space that those two use to build up a decent head of steam. That combo works much better with Farrell at ten standing flat on the gainline, bringing those two in at pace. If its floody that gets selected, a mover with an outside break must be picked at 13. Danny care didn’t read floods movement too well either. Now, second row. In every other pro team the second row contains the big ball carrying juggernauts who also bring down anything that moves. Palmer and parling didn’t bring that dynamism or bone shuddering physicality. Lawes is a must when he’s fit, wouldn’t mind young launch bury getting some real game time too.

    1. I tend to agree with most of what James says. Although I am unsure as to where you have ever seen Farrell stand flat or bring his ball carrying centers into the game? I’ve never seen it and Flood can certainly do so. I would like to see a few more moves go through Tuilagi though, because lets be honest, he will make good hard yards in draw in two or three players.

      And I agree on the Brown front, will be interesting to see what happens when Foden is back, because he needs to be in somewhere.

      Is it just me or is it a nice change of pace to be trying to fit good players in the team instead of trying to limit the amount of poor players we have starting?

      1. Sorry, I can see how that Farrell comment may appear. I mean Farrell stands flat and just distributes, giving barrett and tuilagi an easy target to hit and plenty of time to build up space. Floody will run and try to move people about which complicates things when you have a transit van and a flat bed truck looking for gaps to hit.
        I cant help but wonder what Christian Wade would have done in the couple of yards of space Monye repeatedly found himself in. we’ve seen wade turn people inside out in less…
        someone should write an analysis on our centre options.

        1. I tend to agree with your analysis of Wade vs Monye, but not on the centres/ Farrell.

          I see your point about the fly half and centre mix, but Farrell is not the answer. Nonu is and SBW look to hit a line and take players on as Tuilagi does and both of them have benefited from playing with Carter, who certainly likes to run with the ball and challenge the line in the same way Flood does.

          Obviousy Carter is in a different league to Flood but you see my point. Flood has the ability to bring the centres into the game (which ever centres play), much more so than Farrell could.

          In terms of who should play centre, I do think that Barritt and Tuilagi offer us the most at the moment. JJ is an option but I am not convinced Tuilagi at 12 is a good idea; he is a lot more destructive at 13.

          1. Need to say this now, I never said Farrell should be in there at fly half. I’m one of his biggest critics and don’t think he should currently be in the England elite. Why I bring the point of Farrell round is because he and his style are the reason we were able to grind out those wins in the six nations. My preferred back line would be Young’s, flood, sharples, Tuilagi, Joseph, Ashton and Goode. Needed to clear that one up.

    2. James – spot on re Waldrom. Watching the match I though he had an okay match with a few good breaks. The up popped Greenwood to show numerous overlaps he butchered. Morgan’s link up play in the 6N was briliant – and I would love to see him against Australia. Also am I the only person who though Care’s passing was awful?

      1. Kerian Read will give Waldrom a long, long game if hes selected against NZ.
        Care seemed a bit directionless in my opinion. A scrum half plays with his head up but its got to be from a frame work. he knows he needs to play in certain parts of the field in a certain way to create space, the sniping and the like is just an added weapon. Its why Morgan Parra looks world class when he gets the reins for France, or similarly, its how Genia runs the wallaby show.

      2. Yes it was awful. Youngs is by far the better player and since he plays with flood every week, , youve got to play him.

        Waldrom is not an int class 8.dont compare him to Read – i think Read is one of if no the best 8 ive ever seen.

        Is morgan in with a shout to play on sat? V excited about this game!

  8. “Don’t remember seeing him pass either” What do you mean? Monye executued a perfect offload to the Fijians that led to thier first try? Sure that idiotic act should bar him from the next match. We want inventiveness but that was plain stupid.

  9. Really? this match as not that entertaining, their actually was no contest or real match to play, a word used might be (predictable)This made the game not very excitable, well Some English fans may be think its worthwhile seeing their country hammer another,Other than that average and not unusual,both sides lived up to their standards

  10. Just had another thought. Has Sharples ever played 15 for Gloucester? He certainly sees the space in front of him well enough to know how to,use it. Maybe move him to 15, Tuilagi on the wing, and move Goode to 13, with Ashton coming back on the opposite wing?

    1. I think that you are probably overcomplicating selection! Let the players play in their usual positions and that way, they won’t have to think about what they need to do, they will just instinctively do it. Move them around and it will mess up attacking and defensive structures.

      Having sid that, I like the idea of having all of our best talent on the pitch at the same time but fear the sum of the parts may be less than we’ve got at the moment.

  11. I think the criticism of Waldrom is a little unfair and I think there are 2 major issues to consider.

    Ben Morgan looks poor at the minute, having watched Gloucester a few times recently. Waldrom is the form 8 and who cares if he opted to carry when England are 30 up. It also brings into question the communication with 9. Which brings back another point I made earlier and that is that Flood and Youngs link up soooo much better than Flood and Care – possibly also true in the 8/9 axis as much as the 9/10. Bring in a solid 8/9/10 axis that know each other that well – better than having your ‘best’ 9 on the pitch.

    I also agree with many of the comments about centres. It’s Manu or Barrit and there’s an easy winner in that contest. England need someone else in there with finesse like the older style Tait or Flutey. Anthony Allen would be a brilliant choice on form, but for fear of sounding like I’m just talking Leicester, I wouldn’t mind seeing Jonathon Joseph or Jordan Turner Hall not injured. Billy 12trees is up there for selection.

    1. Please not Allen! Good club player but has never done it on the international stage. Let’s not go there again. Monye proved that theory against Fiji. Shame because I was really wanting him to do well.

      I like Joseph but the trouble for him is that both him and Tuilagi play the same position, and it hasn’t worked switching them around. Isn’t JTH a bit like Barritt? Therefore if you want something a bit different try Twelvetrees. At least we will find out if he is up to international rugby!

    2. Perhaps playing Youngs at 9 would bring the best out of Waldrom and Flood, but I still feel Waldrom didn’t do enough. I just think that Morgan would be better suited to the Australia match.

  12. Wade, May and Twelvetrees deserve a look in during the 6 nations. Wade’s defensive game has improved substantially since last season.
    I would like to see Ashton and Sharples who are both instinctive predators on the wing. The question of Brown or Goode is tied up with who is at centre. If Joseph comes in for Barritt then Brown’s directness and power might give the backs more balance.

    I wasn’t at all impressed with Waldrom and would prefer to see Morgan there. A front row of Corbisiero, Youngs and the indispensible Cole should look ominous for Australia.

    Keep up the good work Stuart.

  13. I doubt Corbisiero will be bought in as he has had no game time for a while now.

    As for the Goode / Brown question, I am still a little concerned at the bandwagon rolling for Goode.

    For me, a full-back should be chosen first and foremost because he is the best at doing a full-back’s duties – not chosen because although he is perhaps not the best at being a full-back, he can play at first receiver and relieve the pressure on the scrum-half or distribute the ball because the centres can’t. To me that says you’ve got a fly-half and/or centres who can’t do their jobs properly.

    There is little doubt in my mind that Brown is the best full-back in England and that Goode is not as good but, unlike Brown, has skills that aren’t necessary for a full-back but do help mask failings elsewhere.

    I worry that against better teams who have the ability to take advantage of weaknesses, the full-back position will be shown to be a danger area if Goode is chosen.

    If he is constantly in the line helping do things that other players should be doing, then any quick turn-over will expose whoever is filling in at fullback – whether Sharples, Ashton or Monye.

    If I was Lancaster, I’d have looked at Saturday’s game and be immediately looking to fast-track Goode into fly-half or inside centre

    1. I understand what you are saying, but Goode does look a fairly accomplished full back, disregarding his other skills. He deserves a shot at Australia to see how he copes.

    2. Sometimes picking the best individuals in their position does not make the best team. We have limited options at 10 and 12 – and that was the most cohesive attack I have seen from England in a while – it fianlly looked like they had a plan! We have struggled in recent years even against the so-called “lesser” teams – so this was still promising. Thought Goode did the basics well too. The bigger issue for me is what to do when Foden returns – he’s our best counter attacker and broken field runner.

    3. Harlequins fan? I’d say that at the moment, Goode is edging it because he’s taken his chance. I don’t remember seeing him fail in his ‘full back duties’ on Saturday (high balls, counterattacking, defense etc.) apart maybe from the freak try Monye handed Fiji on a plate (even then, Goode was pulled back trying to chase the attacking player). He seems to manage the ‘full back duties’ against strong teams just fine when he plays for Sarries, and I’d put it to you that the full back’s duties are shaped by whatever the picked player brings to the role.

      Brown has been given a few chances at full back for England under Lancaster, and what’s obvious is that he just hasn’t taken the opportunity in the same way that Goode did on Saturday. Every game that Brown has played for England he’s been alright but unspectacular, and if you want to make the leap from excellent club player to world class international you need to take every chance you’re given. In my mind he’s behind both Foden and Goode now.

      1. Was that Goode being held back just after he blatantly blocked the Fiji chaser?! Other than that agree with you.

      2. Nope. Saracens fan?

        Think you are forgetting that Goode’s performance on Saturday was against a Fiji squad shorn of some 16 players and in their first game together. He was barely tested defensively

        One game and everyone seems to be talking about it like he was Christian Cullen re-born. Its sounding like the Owen Farrell circus all over again.

        Hopefully my concern that Goode is being used to mask essential failings elsewhere in the team is mis-directed.

        However I don’t think it is and I think we’ll see this exploited by a decent team

        Let’s see how Goode does against the Aussies and Saffers (I don’t think he’ll be dropped) and then we’ll have this discussion again.

        BTW – think Lancaster views Foden as a winger now

        1. I keep hearing you talk about Goodes weaknesses elsewhere that will be exposed… I am wondering what these weaknesses are? I haven’t seen any glaring weaknesses in his game at Sarries, and certainly not last weekend?

  14. Mike Brown is a good runner, but his abilities extend pretty much to that. I’ve been more impressed – in the premiership and international – by Goode’s defensive efforts, kicking game and distribution. He comes up well into the line and works appropriately as an attacker or defender.

    That said, Goode has had one good international against a side with not much fight. He’s not proven yet at international level.

    I have to say though, first choice in that spot must be Foden still.

  15. if you look at the replay of Danny Care’s tackle, you will see the reason why he tipped, is that another England player had hold of the Fijian’s foot and the bloke must’ve weighed twice that of Danny.

    1. To be fair, Palmer anchoring the tackled player is probably what stopped him going further through the horizontal. It’s far from the worst tip tackle I’ve seen, but he lost control of it

  16. The johnsonJtry was the best we have scored since Chris Ashton’s second try against wales in 2011. It was just so clinical, no fuss, simple build up create the overlap, and execute the move clinically

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