After all the talk last week of having a victory to build on, to ‘push on from here’, it’s pretty disappointing to see the player ratings going down, back to their usual level.
Tim Payne – 4/10
Was always going to struggle against the Italian front row, and didn’t bring much to the party.
Dylan Hartley – 5/10
His throwing went awry, just as England needed to dominate this part of the game. After last week’s performance, this was a real disappointment and he missed an opportunity to grow in stature.
Dan Cole – 7/10
A great first Test match in difficult circumstances against a strong pack. He looked as though he’d been doing it all his life, scrummaged well and made some contributions in the loose. Should definitely feature against Ireland.
Simon Shaw – 5/10
Not up to much really. The game could have done with someone like Shaw dominating the contact areas, but alas he was fairly anonymous.
Steve Borthwick – 4/10
Another disappointment after last week’s better showing, and must deserve some blame for the misfiring lineout. No worse than Shawsy, but loses a point for showing no leadership to change tactics when things weren’t working.
James Haskell – 5/10
Another player who wasn’t able to contribute much. The forwards did spend most of the game watching the ball going back and forth above their heads, but the back row didn’t produce a lot of quick ball.
Lewis Moody – 6/10
Not a bad game, and at least looked as though he knew what to do – is that because he just follows his instinct do you think?
Nick Easter – 5/10
And we thought Easter was ‘coming of age’. Another player who was fairly anonymous all afternoon, and a forwards-oriented battle is not the sort of game for a number eight to be anonymous.
Danny Care – 6/10
Made a few breaks from the base of the scrum and tried desperately to get the game moving. Didn’t have great ball to work with but performed adequately.
Jonny Wilkinson – 3/10
Last week we could forgive him an average performance because his goal-kicking was excellent. But this week? Stands too deep, kicks far too often and very badly, makes too many wrong decisions and missed a few sitters that would have put England more comfortably ahead at which point they might just have opened up a little. Is dropping Jonny still unthinkable?
Ugo Monye – 5/10
Only got the ball in space a few times, and although he made yards and found some space, he never looks for the offload and seems to get turned over too much. Also kicked the ball away too often when he was on retrieving duty.
Riki Flutey – 7/10
Flutey was one bright light with some good breaks, and a decent pass that put Tait into space once or twice. It was criminal that he wasn’t given the ball more often by those inside him – he could have had a field day against some fairly average Italian backs.
Mathew Tait – 6/10
Seemed to kick a fair amount as well, and although he took the try well, did anyone notice that he seems to have lost a yard or two of pace? The Flutey and Tait partnership has potential, but they need to trust it.
Mark Cueto – 6/10
Also made a few good breaks, looked promising with ball in hand and was comfortable under high balls, but the kicking plan didn’t really work in his favour.
Delon Armitage – 4/10
I was ruing his injury in the autumn, but he doesn’t seem to be himself. Armitage has to take some of the blame for hoofing it aimlessly too often, and in a game like that, you need a full back who will back himself to take people on. Foden anyone?
Coaches – 0/10
When things were looking fairly average in the first half, I was glad that the team could regroup and get some direction from their coaches at the interval. But then England came out again and although they scored early, the gameplan was pretty much identical. Were they happy with the first half performance? At 6-6 against Italy, did they say, ‘Keep doing what you are doing boys’? There was just no direction and the coaches must be to blame.
Another thing that irritates me about the setup is the way that the players are clearly briefed on what to say in interviews after a poor performance. ‘We always knew it was going to be tough’ was a popular one yesterday, whilst ‘There are a lot of positives we can take from this’ is another favourite and devastatingly untrue.