Here are our scores for the England players’ performances against Ireland. I read a similar article yesterday that gave every single player 6 out of 10 (even Simon Shaw), which is a waste of time, so I’ve tried to include a range of scores to illustrate the point.
Delon Armitage – 4/10
Armmitage was once a rock under the high ball, but every time Ireland kicked high, I had little confidence in the full-back. He dropped a couple and didn’t really get into the game. We saw more of Foden in 30 minutes than we did of Delon in 50.
Mark Cueto – 6/10
Didn’t get much of a chance to create anything with those inside him just shipping the ball on without fixing a man, but another solid game, and a player you want in the side at this stage.
Mathew Tait – 7/10
Got smashed once or twice, but one of England’s only players to run at a gap, rather than being satisfied with taking the tackle and forming a ruck. Made a couple of half-breaks and one of few players to test the Irish defence.
Riki Flutey – 5/10
Was supposed to relieve some of the pressure on Jonny, but I didn’t see much evidence of this. Failed to spot a mismatch early on when John Hayes was lining up against him – he just passed it on without taking him on or even forcing a tackle. Perhaps Ireland had him well-marked, but he hardly threatened.
Ugo Monye – 6/10
Ireland had clearly watched a tape of the Argentina game from November, since they kept targeting him with high balls. He survived most of them, but in attack was rarely a force. Seems too blinkered with the ball in hand, never looks for support and so there’s no chance of offloading in the tackle if he beats a defender.
Jonny Wilkinson – 5/10
I thought Jonny had another pretty poor game. What was that chip over the crossbar in the first half? He chipped several times to no effect other than to waste possession, stood as deep as ever and although he nearly won the game, he still wasn’t completely assured with his goal-kicking. And he should have done better to stop Tommy Bowe for that winning try off FIRST PHASE.
Danny Care – 7/10
He would have had an 8, but for that silly squabble with Tomas O’Leary that resulted in a reversed penalty and ultimately a try for Ireland. Made a few darts that had Ireland scrambling, nearly set up a try with a clever chip through and his passing looked a little sharper to me.
Nick Easter – 6/10
Didn’t really impose himself as he did against Wales, and was outshone by his opposite number. Made one or two carries, but I want to see Easter smashing people at the breakdown, rather than just getting there and having a rest.
Lewis Moody – 5/10
Must take some of the blame for the mess at the breakdown, and wasn’t nearly as effective as David Wallace for Ireland. Johnno obviously agreed by replacing him in the second half, and it’s disappointing that he hasn’t lived up to the expectation he created in the autumn.
James Haskell – 5/10
Haskell was pretty anonymous for most of the game and another who must shoulder some blame for losing the battle at the breakdown. Didn’t get many opportunities to carry the ball, and Stephen Ferris was infinitely better.
Steve Borthwick – 5/10
Having previously commended Borthwick for his lineout prowess, it’s only fair to mark him down when the lineout is a shambles. Hartley should take most of the blame, and perhaps Borthers deserves credit for improving things in the second half, but he didn’t impose himself on the game in any shape or form.
Louis Deacon – 3/10
Deacon is just not international class. There were audible groans when Shawsy was injured after 5 minutes, and Deacon made several errors, the lineout was a mess and he had no positive impact on the game.
Dan Cole – 7/10
Another strong game to suggest that he’s going to make the number 3 shirt his own. The scrums were reasonably solid, and when the driving maul got going, it looked fairly unstoppable (legally). Burrowing over with two people on your back takes some strength as well, and Cole is a real positive for England.
Dylan Hartley – 4/10
A very disappointing display and his wayward throwing in the first half wasted a number of good attacking opportunities. He didn’t have any real impact in the loose either and really ought to be more effective. I also thought he looked a little overweight, but that might have been my eyesight.
Tim Payne – 6/10
Not a bad game from Payne, and was probably pleased to come up against John Hayes. He’s no Andrew Sheridan, but Payne performed adequately.
Ben Foden – 7/10
With half an hour to go, it was a pleasure to see Foden enter the fray. He looked hungry for the ball and although Ireland’s defence didn’t give much away, he was running at gaps to force a tackle and on another day, those would be line breaks. He really needs to start against Scotland.