England & South Africa Player Ratings – 3rd Test

15. Alex Goode – 7

Very good for a first start, caught plenty of the high balls and looked at home. Very encouraging.

14. Chris Ashton – 7

Industrious going forward but his defence is still questionable at key moments. Good performance though.

13. Jonathan Joseph – 5

Whether he needs more time or not is down to the cynics, but Joseph saw so little of the ball due to passes missing him out that it was hard for him to make an impression.

12. Manu Tuilagi – 8

Excellent. Sucked in defenders and was a constant nightmare for the Boks. Hard to contain his raw power when he plays like that.

11. Ben Foden – 6

Back on the wing but not as effective as in the 1st Test.

10. Toby Flood – No score

Only lasted 11 minutes and England sorely missed his control after he went.

care9. Danny Care – 8

Very good. Backed himself for the try, managed the game well and looked a threat.

1. Joe Marler – 7

Undoubtedly his best game on tour. Growing into the role and was stronger in the scrum, meaning Corbisiero’s late withdrawal wasn’t a problem.

2. Dylan Hartley – 5

Solid in the set-piece but England needed him on the pitch and his sin-binning was inconvenient.

3. Dan Cole – 7

Powerful scrummaging performance, found in the middle of every maul. Arguably England’s MVP because behind him at tighthead prop, the cupboard is bare.

4. Tom Palmer – 7

Honestly? Brilliant. Tackled like a maniac and carried with aplomb. When he plays like that, England have a gem on their hands.

5. Geoff Parling – 7

Helped turn the tide at the lineout as the game wore on after a couple of losses early on.

6. Tom Johnson – 8

Find of the tour. Has continued to impress since his first turnover in Durban and in PE made a huge amount of hits and carried brilliantly.

7. James Haskell – 6

Not an easy task filling Robshaw’s boots and Haskell struggled with the intensity. Tackled well, but has given better performances.

8. Thomas Waldrom – 6

Went so well off the bench last week in Joburg but seemed to struggle here. Had a chance to outshine Ben Morgan and he could have done better.


Given that England weren’t using Joseph, bringing on Brad Barritt made the most sense to shore up the defensive effort and hunt for the penalty. Dowson worked hard once more but the main talking point was obviously Farrell, whose kicking performance was disappointing and looked like he struggled under the pressure.

South Africa:

15. Gio Aplon – 6, 14. JP Pietersen – 7, 13. Jean de Villiers – 6, 12. Wynand Olivier – 5, 11. Bryan Habana – 6, 10. Morné Steyn – 4, 9. Francois Hougaard – 5; 1. Tendai Mtawarira – 5, 2. Bismarck du Plessis – 6, 3. Jannie du Plessis – 6, 4. Eben Etzebeth – 5, 5. Juandré Kruger – 6, 6. Marcell Coetzee – 7, 7. Jacques Potgeiter – 6, 8. Pierre Spies – 6

No outstanding performances from individuals this week but with the series won South Africa took their foot of the intensity pedal just a touch. Coetzee impressed again as did Pietersen but Morné Steyn’s form is disastrous.

by Ben Coles

38 thoughts on “England & South Africa Player Ratings – 3rd Test

  1. Let’s not go that far with Tuilagi, a fair few strong carries yes but until he develops the ability to offload out of the tackle, he’ll be as predictable as ever.

    Thomas Waldrom ‘blew it’? He was one of our best players! Certainly our best forward. Bizarre review of his performance, what did he do wrong? Apart from one dropped ball

    1. With some offloads Tuilagi will be a very very decent player. My problem with him is his rushing up in defence to look for the big hit. He does get over the game line no matter what and SA had to put 2 tacklers on him each time, quicker ball might have given us an overlap. He’s definitely not at his best, but he has X-Factor. So exciting to see how he develops.

      I was disappointed with haskell and farrell but the others put in some big performances. We have a big problem with our left wing though, surely May must be pushing for a place there, Foden is redundant playing in that position.

      Still, it’s all very encouraging looking forward to next years six nations, just a shame we couldn’t come away with the win.

    2. Best player? No chance, that was Johnson. Waldrom was nowhere near the level he played at in the 2nd Test, which was very frustrating. With Morgan out of form he could have nailed that shirt and he let it slip.

      1. Ben,
        any plans to do an article on the long term potential coaching set up for england? looks like Faz back for defence (which I think is good) but to also keep catt, which I think is a mistake. Would much rather catt takes over from lancaster as head of the Saxons and for england to bring in an experienced and preferably Aussie/ Kiwi attack coach?

        1. Benjit, it’s like you’ve looked at this week’s diary…

          Charlie’s working on an England piece for tomorrow where I expect that will be discussed. Personally, based on what London Irish have produced last season and what England have in SA, I wouldn’t keep Catt on board.

  2. I don’t know if Waldrom was that bad. Did what was needed of him, carrying, tackling, scrummaging and stealing. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a special performance, but I still think it’s better than Morgan has offered in SA and I wouldn’t have said he put a foot wrong really. More to the point – a million times better than Haskell who should have been yellow carded early on and only really put in a couple of tackles to show his worth.

    1. If the ESPN stats are correct Haskell was our top tackler by some distance. He made nearly as many in 1 game as Robshaw made in 2.

      1. I’ve heard similar arguments made about Worsley being a great player. While it’s important to make tackles, his rucking and attacking looked very limited. I think if he was binned when he should have been we’d be talking differently about him and his consistent offending at rucks was a massive worry (and ultimately the warning that saw the next offence carded)

        1. When he’s not trying to get carded at rucks, Haskell still spends far too much time with the backs and he’s not as effective in open play as Croft is.

          1. We fell off too many tackles in the first 2 tests and lost, we defended much better in the 3rd, Haskell leading the effort, and didn’t lose. I’m not saying I would have in my starting 15 with all players fit, but he deserves some credit for doing the job he was bought in to do in my opinion.

            We were crying out for someone to come in and ‘do a Worsley’ given he did we can’t now say ‘well Worsley was crap anyway’

  3. Thought Haskell was better than a 6. Made 23 tackles missing 1, more than double the number Robshaw made last week and thought he tackled more destructively as well.

    Waldrom made more than 25% of the total meters run by the entire team, tackled more than Morgan, always got over the gainline, one handling error aside I didn’t see much to pick at. Thought he was our second best forward (behind Johnson). Yes the impact off the bench was more spectacular, but that just goes to show the value impact players can bring off the bench when legs are getting heavy and slow. The same rating as Joseph seems very harsh, Joseph touched the ball twice all game.

  4. I thought Haskell did well – he’s a good, if limited player. He won’t get back in once Robshaw and Croft are fit but he could be viable bench option.

    Best England player was Cole – solid in the scrum and a monster at the breakdown. Johnson did well but yet again missed a very important tackle.

  5. We have to remember that Farrell is still only 21, and this tour was about him learning more. He looks more at home with Barritt outside him. I don’t think the Barritt/Tuilagi combination works though. They are too similar, and it doesn’t benefit either of them. It’s a bit like watching Noon and Tindall playing together only a little quicker. Joseph is the closest thing we have to a good 13 at the moment. Shame Simpson Daniel couldn’t stay fit when he was younger. George Lowe is a good player, but again quite similar.
    I thought Goode had a good game for his first test. Only missed one high ball, and made a few yards when he had the chance. Would rather see Foden at Fb with a real winger on though.

    1. What he looks more at home with is not having the ball, or having it on a kicking tee. For us England fans it is a novelty (long overdue and credit to Lancaster) to have players of his age selected, but this is really just bringing us more in line with how the top nations bring their talent through. We applaud the if you are good enough you are old enough, but if you are not good enough we can’t say it’s OK he is only 21.

      Has his game developed over the last year? Last years prem final was a standout performance but I’ve not seen any advance on that. Kicking the ball away should be done to relieve pressure, create a scoring opportunity, or tactically exploit some space in my opinion. If hoofing it in the air stays his default option then he will be hoofing it in the air at 21, 25 and 30.

      I actually thought his passing looked a little sharper on Sat, wish we saw more of it. Whilst he’s never going to be Dan Carter my concern for his future is he seems to just be trading on his strengths and not developing his all round game. It also can’t be too easy to do things on an international stage where there is less decision making time that you don’t get to practice at your club due to playing mostly in the centres and having a game plan based on hoofing it in the air. He may need a change of environment to develop his all round game.

      1. I agree Farrell is no Dan Carter, but i think it is wrong to discount experiance, he is only 21 and his game will change over time, and hopefully by the next world cup he will be good enough to step up to the plate.

      2. His change of environment may come this season without his dad looking over his shoulder on the training ground. With a different backs coach at club level, we may see him developing the parts of his game that need it.

  6. What **** about Waldron…..he had the highest running metres in the whole xxx,,,, England team….more than any of the backs…………..no missed tackles……same number of defenders beaten as Tuilagi,and the SA media saying he outplayed Spies…..which none of the other England No 8’s for the last 300 years have done…..So go look at the stats before you publish rubbish…..

    1. Didn’t realise Spies had been around for 300 years.

      I’m slightly inclined to agree, bar a few mistakes I thought he had an alright game. Definitely looked more of a threat than Morgan, loved his little step and yardage gain early on in the game.

      1. Some bloke called Dallaglio might disagree with you. Also, outplaying Spies on current form is not that hard.

        Have you got the stats? Not calling your bluff, just genuinely intrigued to see.

        1. Point taken Dallglio 3 wins over SA out of 7 at No 8 position playing againt Juan Smth/Andre Vos X2…

          1. Couldn’t see them on there but found them – you’re right, most metres made with 73. Impressive, but still feel he played better in the 2nd Test.

  7. I would go as far to say that Hartley was idiotic. You can’t have a captain who is THAT stupid to ignore the ref so many times. He needs to be wary that he doesnt lose his shirt as the youngsters develop in the next few years!

  8. I have heard that england have secured 4th in the world rankings ahead of France (by the narrowest of margins) with wales in 6th – can anyone confirm? will be a lot more riding on this years AIs than usual. why (apart form oney obviously) to england put themsleves under such pressure by have all 3 tri nations every year. Would much rather we play one of them twice along with the All Black money spinner.

  9. Waldrom either needs to work on the restart or hand over responsibility to someone else. It’s the weakest part of his game, but thought that most of the rest of his game was good.

    1. for me morgan looks the business once he gets his fitness to the right level, and I think TtT can fill a role on an interim basis, however in the interests of competition do we have any up and coming 8s to challenge morgan? In key positions whilst the incumbants are either good or good enough, I do worry about alternatives should injuries strike esp. hooker, TH prop, fly half, 8 and wing.

  10. Some of my observations.

    We seem to be in trouble at Hooker. If Hartley was to get injured, we’re screwed. But even Hartley himself is not that great. I’d rate him possibly the 8th or 9th best hooker in the world right now?

    Same with the lack of option behind Dan Cole.

    Tom Palmer is by far our best lock. He’s absolutely immense and the pack should be built around him and Robshaw moving forward to 2014.

    We now have 7 quality blindside flankers at our disposal, but no natural opensides. Sure, Robshaw and Haskell can do a job there. But scavenging for ball doesn’t come naturally to them.

    Youngs/Flood is STILL our best 9/10 combination going forward to 2014.

    Farrell is another Wilkinson. So if we want to play that 10 man rugby, he’s our man. If we want to expand our attacking game and bring our talented backs into the game more, we’ve unfortunately got to look past him.

    Tuilagi and Joseph need a couple more changes together. Could be good.

    Still really need a couple more wingers to put their hand up for selection.

    Is Foden really untouchable anymore? He’s been one of our only world class players over the last couple of years…. but hasn’t done much recently. There’s a lot to be said for dependability…. but where are the line breaks he has previously been so good at.

    Just my thoughts :)

    1. In answer to some of your points –

      Hooker – we have Gray, Youngs and possibly Brooker (from Quins) coming through. We need Mears to give way though so some of these guys can get some experience

      Tighthead – god only knows, apart from Stevens, is there anyone out there?

      Lock – would like to see Attwood given another chance and perhaps a big lump like Kohn

      Openside – Armitage is doing well, but Robshaw seems to get better with every game he plays. Other than that Ksevic, Gibson or Wallace?

      The other problem is 8, even assuming that Morgan gets his fitness up. Who else is there? Guest at Quins doesn’t get enough game time and seems to be injured a lot. Its a shame that Haskell hasn’t got the skills for it

  11. Waldrom has impressive stats because he had a great match, how anyone couldn’t see that is beyond me. And of course he’s going to look ‘better’/good in the 2nd Test coming off the bench against tired opposition, that’s why scrum halves always look great and seem to up the tempo when they come on after 60 minutes.

    1. I completely agree with you. Waldrom was one of the better players on the pitch. 50 cap Spies got the same score, which I think means Waldrom was worth at least a 7.

  12. Some interesting points there Matt. But I think with Lancaster at the helm we can be sure new players will be bedded in when needed. Taking players like Tom Youngs, Jamie Gibson etc on a tour to SA proves he is willing to give these players a chance. Just training with the team in this environment will help them no end.

    I think there are a few young hookers out there putting there hands up. Youngs and George for a start. Hartley has the shirt firmly in his grasp at the moment, and I see Webber as a kind of stop gap until these guys are ready.

    You’re right about the flankers. The likes of Saull, Seymour, Gibson and Armitage (not sure if he qualifies now he’s playing in France) need to be brought in soon. Robshaw does a good job at seven, but would be even better at six. But Johnson was fantastic on this tour, and imo has leap frogged Croft and Wood.

    Youngs/Flood is currently our best attacking option at 9/10. But when Flood gets injured (quite often) Youngs falls to pieces. Care is more consistent, and with someone like Burns or Ford could be class. I’m not discounting Farrell because like you said is more like Wilkinson. Dependable, nerves of steel, and can tackle like a good flanker. Unfortunately his attacking nouse is not good.

    If you’re playing an attacking 10, you need Barritt or Turner Hall at 12. Tuilagi is good going forward, and can tackle, but has a bad habit of rushing up in defence. With Joseph or similar (can’t think of anyone else) outside, we have a creator with the ball in hand. Side-stepping and offloading with good timing, bringing in the wingers with space to run.

    We have plenty of wingers putting their hands up. Ashton is still at the top of the tree, but with people like Sharples, May, Short, Williams, Wade, Yarde there are plenty of options going forward.

    There is now plenty of competition for the fifteen shirt too. Brown, Goode, Abendanon have all put their hands up on this tour. And there a few youngsters in the age levels and Saxons teams who will be ready before the next WC. All in all the future is bright, as long as we keep Lancaster in the job.

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