England were much improved against the French on Saturday, but there’s no denying that there is a very long way to go before these players can challenge the best teams in the world.
Here are my views on who played well and who didn’t.
Tim Payne – 4/10
The English scrum was taken apart by a superior French front row, and Payne’s contribution in the loose is still minimal.
Dylan Hartley – 5/10
Another disappointing performance from Hartley, and he’s had such a good opportunity now that people might start losing patience.
Dan Cole – 4/10
Comfortably beaten in the scrum to suggest that he hadn’t really been tested in previous games. Taken off at half time, but let’s hope he learns from the experience and comes back better.
Louis Deacon – 4/10
Somebody said that he looks like a lower league club player that has won a competition to play for England, or perhaps he’s been collecting cereal boxes.
Tom Palmer – 5/10
Came on early for Shaw, but it’s still a mystery as to why he leapfrogged Courtney Lawes as the replacement for Steve Borthwick. Reasonable effort but hardly talismanic.
Joe Worsley – 7/10
Did the job asked of him again, making lots of tackles and offering every ounce of energy. Deserves to be keeping James Haskell out of the side at the moment.
Lewis Moody – 8/10
Led by example as part of a much-improved back row effort, and may just have done enough to persuade Johnno that he doesn’t need to return the captaincy to Borthers.
Nick Easter – 6/10
I’d hoped that taking on Imanol Harinordoquy might force Easter to raise his game, but he was outclassed by his opposite man.
Danny Care – 6/10
A reasonable game behind a struggling set-piece and always looked to raise the tempo. I’m not convinced he’s the right man for England and would like to see Ben Youngs on the summer tour.
Toby Flood – 7/10
Took his opportunity well and his first instinct was to pass rather than kick, managing to release the backline on several occasions despite the forwards struggling.
Chris Ashton – 6/10
Looked sharp and unfazed by the occasion, and should certainly be retained despite one or two errors and the squandering of a great scoring opportunity.
Riki Flutey – 5/10
Couldn’t raise his game in the same way that others did around him. Looks like a different player from the Flutey of last season and the Lions tour.
Mike Tindall – 7/10
Deserves more praise for his off-the-ball running that creates space for others. Also did a great job in defence and his experience must have been valuable.
Mark Cueto – 7/10
Having been Mr Dependable on the wing in recent matches, Cueto showed that he can also be a potent attacking threat. One of the best England players I’d say.
Ben Foden – 8/10
His performance should be a lesson to Johnno that he should pick on form rather than reputation. Was bright and hungry for work and a real breath of fresh air for an England side that have been so awful to watch.