Following Saturday’s victory over Wales, here are our views on who played well and who didn’t.
Tim Payne – 6/10
Nothing spectacular, but Wales’ dominance in the scrum did not materialise and Payne held his own. Showed us all that we needn’t have worried about him.
Dylan Hartley – 8/10
England’s lineout was dominant, and Hartley was mostly spot on with his throwing, for which he doesn’t get enough credit. Made a number of carries in the loose and gets better all the time.
David Wilson – 6/10
Wilson’s side of the scrum looked a little less secure, and he didn’t offer much around the park. Lucky that Jenkins wasn’t fit to show him up.
Simon Shaw – 6/10
Made a couple of errors including a clumsy knock on when England had a chance to break. Probably did a lot of graft work that I didn’t spot, and you wouldn’t want anyone else in there.
Steve Borthwick – 8/10
One of his finest games for England. The Welsh lineout may have made him look better than he is, but he stole plenty of ball in the first half, and this gave us most of the possession. If England had lost, we would have slated his lack of leadership in capitulation, so perhaps we should credit him?
James Haskell – 8/10
Stole the headlines with his two tries, and generally deserved the plaudits, although he wouldn’t have been my Man of the Match.
Lewis Moody – 7/10
Came up against one of the best in the world in Martyn Williams and was not shown up. Probably one of the most annoying players to play against, and gave the Welsh no time on the ball and no easy possession.
Nick Easter – 9/10
Finally ran with the ball in and England shirt, rather than just taking two steps and putting it through his legs as he has done in the past. He is pretty massive and made some holes in the Welsh defence – let’s use him more often to get us going forwards. He also offered a good lineout option, suggesting that Tom Croft might not be missed.
Danny Care – 9/10
That’s the Danny Care that we see with Harlequins, not the forlorn, clueless player that was dropped in the autumn. Put some pace into the game with quick tap penalties, and generally made all the right decisions.
Jonny Wilkinson – 7/10
Still didn’t get the backline firing, despite enjoying some much better quality ball. Kicking out hand was dreadful, but his goal-kicking was immaculate and that lifts the side when three points is almost guaranteed from any penalty in opposition territory.
Ugo Monye – 7/10
Made one or two strong runs, but didn’t get much of an opportunity. Wales’ defence tended to snuff out any threat before the ball passed through the midfield.
Toby Flood – 5/10
The midfield was a mess. Jonny takes some of the blame, but Flood didn’t offer much in my view. When I played in an Under-11 team, our backs had a few moves to run, but England don’t seem to try anything that might test a defence. Flood also let James Hook through too easily for his try, and was at least partly responsible for squandering a couple of overlaps.
Mathew Tait – 6/10
Not much space to operate in and was dealt with pretty easily. Took the opportunity for Haskell’s second try after Armitage’s interception, and deserves more credit than Haskell who just had to walk it in after Tait’s pass behind his back.
Mark Cueto – 7/10
Played well if not brilliantly. Hardly made a mistake, and did his best to run at space rather than people, even though those inside him didn’t help him much.
Delon Armitage – 4/10
Oh dear. Where was the Delon of last season? Looked like a shadow of that player, not so comfortable under the high ball and not exactly watertight as the last line of defence. After Monye’s autumn, is this becoming a problem position? Ben Foden for Italy anyone?