England v Australia: England player ratings

15. Mike Brown: 8.5
The standout performer of the day by some distance. Restored to fullback, both his decision making in terms of when to run and when to kick, and his execution of that decision, were exemplary. Made almost double the metres of anyone else in a white shirt, and beat eight defenders in a monumental 17 carries. Foden will have to wait a little longer.

14. Chris Ashton: 5
There was plenty of endeavour from Ashton, but still none of the end result we’re looking for. Was made to look stupid in the build-up to Toomua’s try as he rushed out of the line to barely lay a finger on Folau as he ghosted round the outside.

13. Joel Tomkins: 5
An inauspicious debut from the Saracens centre. Aside from an embarrassing hand-off from Kuridrani, he did little wrong, but then he did pretty much nothing to stand out, either. Likely to be given another chance, but will be under severe pressure from Trinder if his performance doesn’t improve.

12. Billy Twelvetrees: 4
Not the afternoon Twelvetrees needed. This was supposed to be his time to make the 12 shirt his own for the foreseeable future; instead, more questions remain than answers. Will Lancaster keep the faith? Can Twelvetrees rediscover some form? Would Burrell add something different? The missed tackle for Toomua’s try was almost cringe-inducing.

11. Marland Yarde: 7.5
One of the success stories of the afternoon for England. Will need to temper his enthusiasm after narrowly escaping a yellow card for persistent shoulder charging, but when he was given the ball in space there was plenty to suggest this is a position Yarde can dominate for some time. Quick feet, electric pace and good strength are a dangerous combination.

10. Owen Farrell: 6.5
If ever the clichĂ© ‘a game of two halves’ was appropriate, it is in Farrell’s performance. In the first his radar was woefully off, but in the second he proved what the Lions tour has done for his game, attacking the gain-line more and even waltzing through a (possibly Hartley-induced) gap to score a try untouched.

9. Lee Dickson: 5
Another to fail to impress when in need of a big performance. There was none of the usual snap to his distribution – precisely the thing that had him in the team ahead of Youngs and Care. Box-kicking was average at best, also.

1. Mako Vunipola: 7.5
Overshadowed by his brother in the ball-carrying stakes, it is Mako’s scrummaging (for once) that gets him such a solid mark. Did not destroy Alexander in the way Corbisiero did for the Lions, but still gave him a very tough time to win several set piece penalties.

2. Tom Youngs: 5
A poor day for Youngs, whose line-out demons, having been dormant for so long, reappeared. Clearly missed the influence of Geoff Parling, but to use that as an excuse is not acceptable – he will not always be there. While Lawes must take some blame, most of it rests on Youngs’ shoulders.

3. Dan Cole: 7
Back to his best at the scrum, although greater tests await this autumn. Was more visible around the park than he has been for a while, too, making a nuisance of himself over Australian ball at the breakdown. Should have quelled calls for Wilson to start.

4. Joe Launchbury: 7
How often do you find Launchbury being the man on the inside shoulder, taking an offload or offering himself as a runner? He may not make the steamrolling runs of Vunipola, or the bone-crunching hits of Lawes, but his workrate is second to none and vital to England.

5. Courtney Lawes: 6
A few big hits and a couple of solid carries for Lawes, but his selection to call the line-outs backfired as England failed to set a solid platform in the first half. Parling will walk back into the team, and Lawes will return to battling with Launchbury for the other space.

6. Tom Wood: 7
Another workman-like performance from Wood, who proved again that he is much more comfortable on the blindside than at no.8. Made an impressive three turnovers and even managed to get his hands on the ball to carry seven times – more than usual for a man more used to doing the unseen stuff.

7. Chris Robshaw: 7.5
A performance of real class from Robshaw, and while his try was not too tough to take there was plenty else to please England fans from their captain. Fourteen tackles and eight carries point to a typically high workrate and, in combination with Wood, more than nullified the influence of Hooper at the breakdown.

8. Billy Vunipola: 8
England’s other stand-out performer. It was great to see that Vunipola’s ball-carrying prowess held on the international stage as well as it does at club level, as he bounced off defenders all afternoon. In total he made 27 metres but beat three defenders in the process. Should go on to consolidate this position as his own over the rest of the autumn.

Replacements: 8
Almost all of England’s replacements made a positive impact. Ben Youngs and Dylan Hartley were particularly impressive – the former adding pace to the game that had been so lacking previously, and the latter helping to shore up the set-piece. Marler and Wilson carried on the good work at scrum time against tiring opponents, but Ben Morgan again looked out of sorts and was unable to impose himself on the game in any way. Flood and Attwood had little time to make any noticeable impact.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

34 thoughts on “England v Australia: England player ratings

  1. Coach 3

    When you think of it, given we’ve just had a “2nd string” summer, why was the outside centre only getting his first cap (this isn’t having a go at Tomkins, just the plan that brought England to this point)? Why is England’s best hooker for a decade on the bench? Why does Ashton have a cast iron guarantee of starting when fit?

    1. Tomkins was in the original squad for Argentina, but missed out through injury. Tuilagi probably would have started against Australia, if he was fit. Agree with you on Ashton, but think Lancaster is doing a pretty good job overall.

    2. Fair points Brighty – these would be my justifications:

      1. Manu is beyond a shoo-in when fit, and for a long time Joseph looked the natural second choice – his form has dropped away alarmingly though, hence the need to elevate Tomkins/Trinder (for the record I would definitely have gone for Trinder – hope he hasn’t now missed his chance).

      2. Hartley is good but not demonstrably better than Youngs – throwing into the line-out is the only area I’d say Hartley was better.

      3. This one I agree on – while potential replacements have suffered with injuries at times (think May) or not quite taken their chances (think Sharples), I do think it’s time someone else was given the chance Ashton has had. It’s getting embarrassing. Also, if the argument for Wade is that he can’t defend… neither can Ashton. If anything, he’s worse – at least Wade’s positioning is decent.

  2. Agree with pretty much all of this. Would have Launchbury up with Vunipola on an 8 though. Very impressed with him again. For me, those two and Brown were the best players on the pitch in a white shirt by some distance.

    I hope SL doesn’t over-react to Twelvtrees first game. Give him the AIs, if he still doesn’t look up to it then the 6Ns 12 shirt may have to be re-thought.

    Let’s remember the back line had to real clean ball to play with. I was very disappointed with Dickson and would definitely get Youngs in next week.

  3. Pretty fair, don’t think Yarde is worth a 7.5, neither wing had any ball to work with so sadly all we are talking about is what they did or didn’t do in defence. If we had North and Savea on the wings it wouldn’t make any difference.

    Lineout was fine with Hartley on, so whether it was the more familiar combination or just Youngs having a poor day with the darts I’m not sure. Thought Lawes was certainly as effective (if not more so) around the park as Launchbury, he got his big destructive hits in without going OTT.

    As well as the carrying and all enveloping tackles Billy Vunipola’s control at the base really impressed me. Ball could have easily come squirting out on a couple of those advancing scrums.

    Collective work of the back row was excellent, Robshaw has gained a bit of pace (the only real weakness is his game last year).

    Brown was exceptional (I’m a Foden advocate), I do want to see more contributions from him in the opposition half though, but fully deserving of the shirt for the next couple of weeks.

    Coaching and game plan deserves a 3. Our 2 centres collectively managed 2 passes all match (as Wookie pointed out on the other thread our distributing 12 touched the ball 4 times all match). I have no idea what we were even attempting to do in attack. No pattern, no structure, no direction. It’s not like we had Hooper ruining our ball at the breakdown either, the clear our work was good. Even for a first run out this was really poor. Great that we had remembered that working collectively and aggressively around the ruck area was why we were so successful against the ABs and Scotland (why we forgot it subsequently is another matter). Never mind all the talk of culture and identity, please can we identify some form of attack on the pitch next week!

    There is no such thing as a bad win against Australia however (it’s a better result that the Lions managed on 2 occasions!), fingers crossed they will take confidence from that and improve next week.

  4. Would have given an 8 to everyone in the back 5 of the England scrum. That was the best game I’ve seen from that England unit for a long time. Their physicality in defence was punishing, they wouldn’t let Australia get any go forward or build momentum, the main reason why Aus. looked so poor. There was a desire to dominate every collision, not simply to ‘win’ it. That South African mentality. That is what Lawes brings, but where he led Wood, Robshaw, Youngs and Launchbury all followed.

    The lineout wasn’t perfect but I don’t think Lawes was totally to blame, overthrows happen and they didn’t cost Eng. too much, only contributed to the lack of momntum in the game.

    Backs (bar Brown) rather let their forwards down, Aus. having too much success out wide. Although with that little experience you can’t expect immediate cohesion, basically an entirely new unit there from 12 – 15.

  5. I would dock Tom Youngs ano point for his part in the Aussie try. Arguably Toomua was Youngs man. He just stood there and maybe that caused the indecision for 12t (not excusing his woeful attempt btw).

    Re Ashton. Whilst I have a nasty feeling that he won’t be dropped I also have an equally sinking feeling that he’ll stick Foden on the wing as he did in South Africa last year so that he has room for one of Wade, Eastmond or Burrell on the bench. Not a fan of playing people out of position tho if memory serves Foden made a good go of it on that tour.

    1. I hope we don’t go down that route, it’s an admission of failure. “We can’t get our wings into play, even though we have some good ones, OK lets play more fullbacks”

      1. Agreed but Foden makes a better wing than Brown did and I won’t be unhappy to have him on the field.

        As someone else pointed out, having a starting line-up with novices in the centre and on both wings is hardly ideal

        The s hemisphere don’t seem to have too much issue with playing people in various positions, so it can’t do too much harm. Witness Ben Smith, AAC, Beauden Barrett, Corey Jane, Israel Dagg

        Would also like to see one of Wade, Eastmond or Burrell given a chance on the bench

        1. Agree Foden is a better wing option than Brown and agree there are plenty of guys who have demonstrated they can excel in both. I’m not convinced Foden is the best wing we have though, so if we are picking him on the wing it’s more to have an extra fullback and someone that joins/attacks the line. It just seems a bit of a sticking plaster solution, treating a symptom rather than a cause.

  6. I think you’re being a little harsh on Lawes. Not sure that the choice of calls at the lineouts were the problem, more the execution.

    It may be argued that if the Hooker is having an off-day, then you tailor the calls to suit. However, I would expect an International Hooker to improve rather than the rest of the pack change to accommodate his lack of accuracy.

    Looking at various papers, and various websites, Yarde’s contribution/rating seems to be causing the most varying degrees of opinion.

    The trouble with playing on the wing is that you can be judged on very few incidents. I thought he played well, he took his one (and that is a crime isn’t it?) chance very well, he was pinged twice for over exuberance, and was lucky not to be carded, but he worked exceptionally hard, particularly at the breakdown and really could be something special.

    Of course, you should not accept “over-exuberance” at this level but I am sure that he will be reminded of this before next weekend, and I am equally sure that there are very few players who have not fallen prey to this in their early “big” games.

    With the exception of “that” handoff, I thought Tomkins did very well, with limited opportunity. Sadly no real go-forward ball, but with that one exception which I am sure will not be forgotten very soon, he defended very well and helped but a lot of pressure on Cooper, by restricting his decisions.

    1. You can’t give an international openside a 9 just cos he’s a hard worker. McCaw, Warburton, O’Brien, Pocock – the list goes on of excellent 7s for who “grafting” is the most basic requirement, so basic that it’s not even worth mentioning. If you’re in an international XV you’d already better be way, way beyond considering “graft” as any sort of quality metric. It’s taken as below the baseline. You need to back that up with skill, decision making, turnovers, winning, etc. Now I’m not saying Robshaw is completely bereft in those areas but I am saying he’s not a 9 simply because he works hard.

      1. Quit talking crap Brighty! I said I’d give him a 9 so what more is there to talk about!? You personally disagree…. So what do you want? A round of applause?

        1. Thanks for speak sense Brighty, always enjoy a genuine fact based rugby-related response over petty insults.

          @ Liam – why do you find Brightys response so offensive? Seems like a fair one to me?

        2. Liam, I know you find this a difficult concept to grasp, so I’ll try and summarise it for you. This is a blog with a discussion aspect. People post things and then other people reply in agreement or disagreement. It’s a bit of a mad concept isn’t it? There’s a word for it, it’s called a “conversation” but unfortunately it’s usually best done between people with manners and brains. I can see that a lack of either is a problem for you but don’t worry, I’ll cut you some slack and see if you can get the hang of it at some point.

        3. Liam, don’t make me agree with Brighty, it’s too painful, but he made a well reasoned point as to why Robshaw didn’t deserve a 9 just for hard graft. Sadly I agree with him. If you were to argue why Robshaw deserved a 9 for his all round play go ahead and argue the case. I thought he had a great game and our back row looked as balanced as it has been for ages (since Morgan was on form and fit), but probably he wasn’t a 9. However you might point to Richard Hill and say when did he ever get a 9, because actually so much of what he did was off the radar and only appreciated when he wasn’t on the pitch. I’ve started a discussion for you.

  7. 7.5 for Yarde seems a little high, and I think you’re being a little harsh on Tomkins. He got handed off once, and the next time faced with tackling the same player he wrapped him up well, and stopped him gaining any yards. He also wrapped up Genia excellently, forcing a turnover. To have him only one point ahead of Twelvetrees (who looked embarrassingly out of sorts) is harsh. This was his first test, and had little or no ball to get any go forward.
    Apart from one good run up the touch line (exciting at the time), I don’t think Yarde did that much. I still think he is our best option, and would keep him in, but think the score is a little high.

  8. Have thought further about the centres. They both had one embarrassing missed tackle, both put in some good work around the pitch in defence and at the breakdown, although more Tomkins for the former and 36 for the latter. 36 gave away a penalty at the breakdown. He wasn’t the only one to do that in the game. It probably came with him trying to do too much just after the try.

    Therefore unless anyone can come up with any more faults of 36 in that game I think that we should lay off him. He was picked to be a creative centre – and if the stats bandied about are correct, how can he do that with 4 touches. I would therefore say that our attacking pattern was at fault not our centres and they should be given another chance.

    I for one think Catt should be binned as the odd game apart our attack has decidedly underwhelmed and underperformed based on the players that we have. The basic skills of players running from deep and at pace, and also passing in front of players, not at them (or behind them if they are moving!) have been ignored or forgotten.

    Yarde will learn. He made some rookie mistakes but showed electric go forward in his one chance.

    Interestingly what are we short of if everyone is fit. Probably only a 12 and 2 wings at the current time. SL needs to find the right combinations in those positions. Personally think Yarde could be the answer to one of these. We also need to discover the right back ups for 11 through to 14.

    However first of all we need to decide what our attacking game plan is if Manu is injured, because I’m not sure we have one.

    1. I do think we’ve got an issue with the coaching set up. Not sure it all sits with Catt (who got a lot of plaudits over the summer from players).

      Baxter comes in, we play like the Chiefs, Baxter goes out and we revert to playing like a 2012 vintage Sarries.

      The “we want our defence to be an offensive weapon” mantra is fine, but it just looks like the squad have spent the last 2 weeks focussing on what they are going to do when they don’t have the ball. Lots of perspiration and a complete lack of inspiration.

      Hopefully it will get a lot better over the next couple of weeks, but I am concerned we didn’t get a Cotter, Schmidt, Smith, Kirwin type quality coach in under Lancaster who can take the lead for what we do on the pitch (and let Lancaster to deal with the off the pitch stuff, which he seems best at)

  9. Not sure where on earth 7.5 for Yarde has come from. Thought he had a shocker. Gave away two needless penalties, got stripped of the ball in the Australia 22 that led to a dangerous counter, and missed a very bad tackle in our territory – just as bad as Twelvetrees or Ashton’s other than that it didn’t lead to a try. Made that one dangerous run down the left, and I’d stick with him next week, but it was not his day at all.

    1. I agree guys – i thought Yarde was woeful and there was only Ashton who made him look good. We have a winger crisis and in a big game, that ridiculous and cowardly shoulder would have put him in the bin – moves like that show you have no faith in the ability of others behind you. Him and Ashton reminded me of Sackey, Varndel and others – it’s great waxing lyrical about pace every Saturday but test rugby needs you ready to finish a try but also CONSTANTLY in the right place to defend. If Ashton wants to come in like that he needs to lay the guy out, man and ball …. otherwise – please don’t bother. He looked absolutely stupid.

      Wade? No better IMO. I’d rather have someone more intelligent like Simpson-Daniel or even Strettle?

      I’d stick with Yarde – he just needs to learn. Rapidly. But Surely it’s time up for Ashton ….

  10. Pretty accurate assessment. If the EPS rules were more flexible I’d have given Will Fraser a run out and maybe put Sam Dickinson on the bench (reward for form and all that). That said, to build for NZ game:
    1) Corbs
    2) Hartley
    3) Cole
    4) Lawes
    5) Parling
    6) Wood
    7) Robshaw
    8) BV
    9) Youngs
    10) Farrell
    11) Yarde
    12) Burrell
    13) Tomkins
    14) Wade
    15) Brown
    Very harsh on Launchbury but need to see the Lawes / Parling combination in action.
    Care on bench as well.

  11. Fraser was injured again recently, and I believe is still injured.

    Dickinson should definitely be included in the Saxons ASAP, maybe even replacing Morgan in the EPS should his form not improve. But Dickinson is a guy who’s done it the hard way (like Easter) and would be a very useful guy for the other very young 8s to have around.

    Don’t believe we’ll see Lawes+Parling. Launch was packing down behind the tighthead, and was slightly more smashy in the rucks, he’s developing into a tight lock whilst Lawes is staying looser. Lawes + Parling is even lighter than we’ve had before, and we’re about to face the Argie scrum which was the strongest in the RC (what we faced in the summer was 3rd choice perhaps).

    Yarde wasn’t 7.5, but he had a very good first outing, and I reckon a few more caps will cut out those silly pens.

    1. Fraser is fit again, and is in very good form for Sarries. Problem he has is he’s on rotation, as Sarries also have Burger fit again as well. But when he’s in the team he’s playing excellently. Made a nice offload for Goode to score on Sunday, and forced a few turnovers as well.

      Agree on Yarde, I would keep him in, but how he scored a 7.5? When you think Tomkins only got a 5?

  12. Just re-watched the match, and Yarde and Farrell’s ratings are much too high. Farrell’s performance didn’t actually improve noticeably in the second half, what happened was Ben Youngs came on for Lee Dickson and made a noticeable impact (which is what I like him doing, don’t want him starting when he makes such a big difference coming on at 55-60 minutes). Farrell remained clueless as a distributor until he was subbed for Flood, his passing was abysmal and he had no idea what he was doing. This combined with the backs standing much too deep was the reason our backline, which has admittedly rarely if ever been outstanding, was so completely lost. If Faz doesn’t buck his ideas up sharpish we need to start looking at what Freddie Burns can bring more regularly (particularly since his partnership with 36 at Glaws means they should work better together).
    Yarde wasn’t as bad as Farrell, but for every good contribution he made, he also made a pretty bloody awful one. Yarde 6, Farrell 4.

    1. Farrell wasn’t subbed. 36 was subbed for Flood at 12.

      Farrell improved in the 2nd half, I think Ben Youngs helped a lot.

    2. Flood came on for 36, and probably made more Yardes in his first carry than 36 did the whole game. I appreciate he was running at tired legs, but still looked more useful there than 36.

  13. Lancaster comment from BBC

    “There might be one or two changes,” he said. “A squad wins you a World Cup. Very few players play in all seven games. It is my job to build a squad and make sure I get the balance right.”

    Let’s worry about getting out of the group first!

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