England Player Ratings v Barbarians

15. Ben Foden – 7

Tryless but not without effort. Another typical strong Foden performance but didn’t set the world alight.

14. Chris Ashton – 8

Three tries and no Ash Splash? Meet the new Chris Ashton. Following a frustrating campaign at Northampton, Ashton looks set on a big summer and there was no better way to start than with plenty of tries against the Barbarians.

13. Brad Barritt – 6

Was found putting in plenty of big hits once more in midfield. Far too unimaginative though alongside Farrell.

12. Owen Farrell – 5

Sloppy passes far too often hit the deck and he looked out of sorts. Cute chip for Joseph’s first try worked well.

11. Christian Wade – 7

A solid debut well rounded off with a simple try. Few errors to note, the youngster is still an exciting prospect.

10. Charlie Hodgson – 6

The quality of his distribution was made for Barbarians matches, but much like Farrell the intuition and slick play between the two that we’ve become accustomed to was absent.

9. Lee Dickson – 6

Felt the heat with Care and Youngs performing the day before. Not bad.

1. Matt Stevens – 6

Not an afternoon for props but showed some good touches. Loosehead experiment a search for depth behind Corbisiero and Marler.

2. Dylan Hartley – 7

Returned like a man hungry to make amends and flopped over off the back of a maul for his try. Essential in an area where England are worryingly light.

3. Paul Doran-Jones – 6

A good return to England colours for the Saints prop, who will be in demand on tour.

4. Mouritz Botha – 7

The kind of hard-nosed South African you need against… uh, hard-nosed South Africans. Good showing.

5. Tom Palmer – 6

The returning Wasp took his chance well along with Botha. Essential experience.

6. Tom Johnson – 8

A performance to shout about. Busy in the breakdown, hounding in defence and then the deftest of hands for Wigglesworth’s score. The 6 shirt is vacant and he put his hand up.

7. Carl Fearns – 7

Promising debut for the youngster who turns 23 today. A beast around the park.

8. Phil Dowson – 7

A concerning blow to the head aside, this was a good afternoon for England’s temporary captain. Could switch to 6 in South Africa.


Joseph’s stepping ability looked to be the ingredient England were missing in midfield and he took his tries well. Mullan’s return was a positive, whilst Wigglesworth also impressed. Youngsters Launchbury and Gibson are right on the fringes.

by Ben Coles

17 thoughts on “England Player Ratings v Barbarians

  1. Agree with a lot of that, but don’t think Stevens’ selection at loosehead can qualfy as an “experiment” given how much he’s played there for England in the last year. I just think they wanted to keep the team as close to the Six Nations side as was possible with Quins and Leicester missing

  2. A concerning performance from Farrell – he seemed to lacking basic skills in terms of how to execute an overlap and how to put a man in space, not to mention two horrific penalty attempts. Hopefully just an off day or else England will struggle in South Africa.

    I still don’t know what the ideal 10,12,13 combination should be – any suggestions?

    On a more positive note, I thought Hartley was excellent, as was Dowson until he went off. Lots of options in the back row, particularly if Robshaw continues to do a good job in the 7 jersey.

    1. The penalty misses I can forgive, we know he is a world class goal kicker, so just an off day. The handling skills really is a worry though. Yes a nice chip through for the try, but no sign that the weaker aspects of his game are improving. With lots of kick chase and Spies and pals trucking it up the 10 12 channel I think I would start Farrell and Barritt for the first test, but I’m not convinced this will ever progress beyond an excellent defensive combination.

      1. I don’t think we’ve seen anything to suggest they can turn into a good attacking partnership.

        1. I agree. The two together as centres is not exciting. Farrell is a much better 10. I would be tempted to start with Farrell at 10, Tuilagi at 12 and Joseph at 13. Barritt on the bench to slow down attackers in the second half when they’re getting tired, and he has more chance of breaking the line.

  3. Good to see some effective use of the driving maul, underused of late. Johnson deserves a test start after that performance. Midfield …. oh dear …. playing in the rain, wind and snow was the justification in the first 2 6N games but no excuses for yesterday. JJ looked great though.

    With Tuilagi really out of sorts I’m really struggling to work out what our best 10, 12, 13 currently is. Given the opposition and wanting to build on the foundations of the 6N I can see the argument for Farrell and Barritt at 10 and 12, though I think Flood and Allen have been playing better. Maybe Lowe or JJ at 13 with Tuilagi on the bench covering wing and centre? I hope Tuilagi can do a Nonu and turn some dire club form around into great international form. What do people think, what combination would you go with?

    1. Agreed on the driving maul – looks like that’s a weapon they’ll be looking to use in SA.

      Manu has been dreadfully out of form and looking disinterested, but still tempted to pick him, with Faz at 10 and Barritt at 12. It’s not going to light up a Test series in terms of attack, but would feel more comfortable about them stopping the big Saffa runners.

      Realistically, defence is going to be key again – you can’t expect Mike Catt to work wonders in attack in a couple of weeks, given that his predecessor couldn’t put a single backs move together during his 3 year tenure.

  4. Joseph was outstanding. Manu at 12 and JJ at 13? Would be like wales but with more power and flair. Does anyone think wade should start ahead of stretts or would that be asking too much too soon?

      1. Failed to see the point in starting Farrell at 12 on Sunday and it was a mistake. But going forward until the Six Nations he is the man. Barritt anchor, Farrell and JJ to create.

  5. Care, Cipriani, Ashton, Manu, JJ, Wade, Foden

    Not going to happen but would like to see it.

    1. Stick Ford in for Cipriani and you could have a great long term backline for England. That would be really exciting to see

      1. Spot on there. Ford just needs to bulk up a little, but come the Six Nations next year………..?

  6. Farrell doesn’t create though. He goes through the set motions. I thoroughly enjoyed watching his nomination video at the rugby awards. They managed to include a clip of the only side step he did all season, a special moment for him and one to forget for any England fan. Farrell looked his age on Sunday, he was poor and hodgson couldnt play his distribution roll due to Farrell’s nonexistent pace.

  7. Even accounting for the fact that a lot of a flanker’s best work is done out of sight, I’d say Carl Fearns had a pretty unremarkable afternoon. To give him the same score as Dylan Hartley seems a bit odd. Hartley should have been MOTM as his performance was as least as influential as Ashton’s.

    Wade looks good, although at the moment I’d say he was an 8 in attack and a 4 in defence but give him a good run in the midweek team down in South Africa and he’ll soon get into the swing of things.

  8. My 22 for the first test (assuming they’re all fit) would be:
    1. Corbisiero, 2. Hartley, 3. Cole, 4. Botha, 5. Palmer, 6. Johnson, 7. Robshaw, 8. Morgan, 9. Care, 10. Farrell, 11. Wade, 12. Barritt, 12. Tuilagi, 14. Ashton, 15. Foden
    Relacements: 16. Webber, 17. Marler, 18. Parling, 19. Fearns, 20. Youngs, 21. Joseph, 22. Brown.

    Although I had stated I would contemplate starting with Tuilagi and Joseph, for the first test, I think Barritt needs to start, with Tuilagi alongside to smash some holes and tire the SA defence, then bring on Joseph to exploit.

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