England v Wales: England player ratings


15. Mike Brown: 8.5
Barring a complete aberration in Rome, the player of the tournament accolade is his. He was again slippery in attack, ducking and weaving his way through tackles on the way to beating seven defenders and making 145 metres. He was also a rock under the high ball.

14. Jack Nowell: 7
Nowell is an unfussy winger – not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing, but equally a player who does little wrong. He made plenty of metres again at the weekend, without ever catching the eye too much, but there was one moment of brilliance as he offloaded to Courtney Lawes in the build-up to Burrell’s non-try in the second half. A project that is certainly worth sticking with for England.

13. Luther Burrell: 7.5
Three tries in your first four tests is a hell of a strike rate, and he would have made it four in four were it not for Halfpenny’s bravery. As it was, he finished his try smartly and made a few powerful runs elsewhere. Looks very comfortable at this level.

12. Billy Twelvetrees: 7.5
One of Twelvetrees’ better performances in an England shirt. His grubber through for Burrell’s try was genius, the vision exquisite and the weighting perfect to elude the Welsh defenders. He also mixed his game up well, running with the ball to greater effect than he has done in the past.

11. Jonny May: 6
May is undoubtedly elusive, but the trouble with his inside darts is that when he doesn’t find a gap, he just eats up space for others. There is less space in international rugby and he will have to work harder to find the gaps, but once in a while it would be great to see him pin his ears back and try the outside as he undoubtedly has the pace to make ground there.

10. Owen Farrell: 7.5
Farrell will never possess the verve of Quade Cooper, but he is rapidly becoming a top quality international fly-half. His kicking – both tactical and from the tee – is superb, and his decision making has improved. With Care looking dangerous inside him and Twelvetrees offering an alternative playmaking option outside, he looks very comfortable.

9. Danny Care: 8
Care’s trickery was to the fore early on as he twice tapped penalties quickly, one of which led directly to his try – although the Welsh must be lambasted for the schoolboy error of turning their backs on him. He is integral to the tempo with which England play, and his box-kicking has also improved immeasurably.

1. Joe Marler: 7.5
Another solid performance from Marler in the set piece, and it will have been hugely satisfying for him to get one over on Adam Jones after the mullering in Cardiff last year.

2. Dylan Hartley: 4.5
Anonymous in the loose and a penalty-machine in the tight, this was not vintage stuff from Hartley. He gave away four penalties, all of which were kicked by Halfpenny. On a day when England were hunting for as big a win as possible, you expected better from one of England’s most senior players.

3. David Wilson: 8
Have you seen a better offload from a prop than the one Wilson threw in the build-up to Care’s early try? It was magnificent, but aside from the flair what was most encouraging was the way he bent Gethin Jenkins into a pretzel, and he was duly sin-binned. Dan Cole, like so many other of the previous incumbents, faces an uphill struggle to get his shirt back.

4. Joe Launchbury: 7.5
More quiet industry from Launchbury, who is the perfect foil to Lawes’ headline-grabbing smashing. On the rare occasions that Wales did break England’s line, Launchbury was never far away to tidy up. The Wasps man has unbelievable stamina.

5. Courtney Lawes: 9
Lawes looks a completely different player to the one that so struggled in this tournament last season. He was once again imperious in the lineout, and his defensive shift was one of the best seen for some time, chopping down the big Welsh runners before they could build-up any steam. He also showed lovely hands in the build-up to Burrell’s non try.

6. Tom Wood: 7.5
16 tackles saw him top the tackle count for England, and again underlined how effective he is in this defensive unit. He was also a key source of lineout ball for the hosts.

7. Chris Robshaw: 6.5
A quiet game for the captain, who offered himself as a carrier on plenty of occasions but did not return as many metres as he might have liked. He also fell off more tackles (four) than usual. Overall, though, he should be credited for leading a spirited England performance.

8. Ben Morgan: 6
13 tackles made and none missed point to a high defensive work rate for Morgan, but England did miss the ball-carrying ballast of Billy Vunipola. Too often he looked unsure of himself and crabbed across the field, rather than using his considerable bulk to go forwards.

Replacements: 7
The subs weren’t used until the game was effectively out of sight, and Lancaster deserves credit for not changing people for the sake of it. Mako Vunipola got the most game time, and while he looked dangerous with ball in hand, the scrum did suffer.

Tom Youngs added accuracy where Hartley had given away penalties, while it was encouraging for George Ford to get his first taste of international rugby in the relaxed atmosphere of the final few minutes.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

28 thoughts on “England v Wales: England player ratings

  1. You’re being pretty harsh on Hartley – he definitely had an off day in terms of discipline but if he hadn’t given away the penalties he’d have merited a solid mark otherwise. He was good in the set piece and certainly not ‘anonymous’ in the loose, but he’ll be well aware he needs to improve next week.

  2. I think that you are being a bit harsh on Morgan. Yes he isn’t Vunipola when carrying, but he put in a decent shift round the park, and probably got through more work than BV would get through without being as strong going forward. As you say 13 tackles and none missed – Lydiate would get an 8 for that! Probably deserves a 7 in my book.

    4.5 for Hartley is also a bit harsh. Yes he gave away some penalties but he also put in a big shift round the park and the lineout functioned pretty well. Definitely loses points for his indiscretions, but not that many. 5.5 – 6 for me.

    Have to say that what I am really delighted about, is that I (and others) were moaning about 12Ts defence, Care’s box kicking and Young’s throwing. All 3 seem to have been worked on to good effect. Take a bow Mr Lancaster. This is in addition to Lawes discipline, Farrells attack, Browns attack, untimely substitutions and back row balance. SL is improving himself and the team at a decent lick of knots!

  3. Bit harsh on Hartley who was a touch unlucky to be pinged 4 times, e.g. Fale had no need to jump to take that ball, so jumped into a tackle. The only lineout that was lost had AWJ all over Lawes. Far from his best game but a 4.5 is a get-out-of-the-team-for-next-week rating which is too harsh.

    36 = 7 and Burrell = 8. 36 grew into the game really well, but started off pretty shaky, Burrell had an excellent 80 (just some white chalk paint separating him from a 9).

    Agree with the rest. Morgan looked like he was pacing himself to last the 80 and didn’t make the impact I was expecting. May’s decision making was poor.

    I’m a big fan of Wilson (when fully fit), may not have the same presence at the ruck as Cole (who is prone to coughing up a few penalties in those areas as well though), but he can really shift for a ~20 stone unit. I can see Wilson making a credible claim to keeping the shirt over the next 6 months.

  4. What this side is achieving without Lions such as Corbisiero, Cole, Parling, Croft, Youngs and Tuilagi is nothing short of incredible. With those and players like Vunipola and Yarde who have made big impacts in the last 12 months to come back into selection wreckoning we could be on the way to becoming a major force.

    I think Lancaster has to show faith in these players that have performed well and make the “favourites” for selection to something special to get back into this side.

    With the exception of Hartley who gave away too many penalties no one had a poor game. While I think we do have some stronger players on the sidelines, I think we have to go with the form guys that have grown up so much since even that first game in France.

    It will be very interesting to see what happens in NZ. I think NZ taking the series 3-0 may unfortunately still be the most likely outcome, but it will be interesting to see how this team Coles and whether they can give NZ a strong challenge.

    1. 2 or 3 warmup games and then 7 RWC games if you make it as far as a semi final so strength in depth is crucial. For example I couldn’t see Parling displacing Lawes or Launchbury, whatever form he comes back in, but if he’s the guy you call on in the event of an injury then it’s a great option to have.

  5. Harsh on Morgan, he made the most ground out of the entire pack, was flawless under the high ball and gave more than one good pass to get the backline moving out wide. He’s not Billy V and never will be but he did what he does and did it well.

    Hartley’ high points justify giving him at least a 5 and probably 5.5 or 6, specifically his tackle rate (second only to Wood) and line-out which misfired exactly once and after that was flawless. His discipline was frustrating and it was his worst performance since the start of November but still positives to take.

    I’d up Burrell and Twelvetrees to full 8’s at least, both were as good as they’ve yet been for England and had plenty of moments to enjoy. I think Brown also needs a higher rating, he made a ludicrous amount of ground and was very effective at probing and testing the Welsh defence.

  6. Did you watch the same game I did. Nowell missed 2 tackles on North and gave away 6 points at the breakdown yet you said he did nothing wrong. You’re making this up as you go along aren’t you…

  7. Thought Morgan had a pretty good game actually. Didn’t make massive inroads into the Welsh defence, but there was no guarantee the Billy would have been able to either. Morgan distributed well on a few occasions, which I think held the defenders and possibly opened up slightly more space outside. One pickup from the base of a rapidly-retreating scrum stuck out in my mind too.

    Was probably Hartley’s worst performance for England this season, but his others have been very good. Could possibly argue that 2 of the penalties he conceded were slightly unfortunate (the tackle on Faletau, the offside from a knock on) insofar as he was in the wrong (depending on how you look at it) place at both those times, and if another player had committed those offences not as much would have been said about it.

    Think he will be given the chance to redeem himself against Italy. Would like to see Ford get some more game time, and possibly Tuilagi on the bench, not because the others have done anything wrong, but I’d just like to see him and Burrell get a bit of game time together. Plus he will be very hungry to make a statement after being out for so long, which would be helpful if England are going to try and chase the points difference.

  8. Disagree with a few of these. Hartley has already been pointed out.

    Two of his penalties weren’t his fault. The Fale one obviously wasn’t, there’s nothing he could have done there short of jumping out of the way. And the offside one was unlucky. There are very few players in world rugby that would have the piece of mind to be aware they were offside in that split second and move out the way of the ball, let alone any front row players!

    I actually thought the rest of this game was good – line out again was good. He wasn’t as good as previous games but still a 6 for me.

    Twelvetrees could have an extra half point, really impressed with him, particularly his defence.

    Farrell as well could get higher – thought he was fantastic.

  9. Thought that yesterdays was Twelvetrees’ best game for England.

    On George Ford; for his 90 seconds of International experience, I suspect that he may have learned something. His second (and final) contribution was to kick the ball directly to George North – at least he will likely have a part in the team de-brief!

  10. I don’t see Hartley being replaced, but his off the feet penalties were both stupid, he barely touched the ball, 2 passes and a carry (and was turned over twice). Struggled in the scrum. I know Wales weren’t exactly legal, but he wasn’t hooking and it put England under pressure. Arguably lucky that the referee was catching Wales in the act. I’m not saying he is poor, but he had a bad day and his score reflects it.

    The concern I have with Johnny May is less his runs accross field, because to an extent, it helps. He runs accross and creates a 2 on 1 with the other winger. Problem is, he then carries into contact instead of passing, leaving only Jack Nowell to support which is going to be difficult to win. Several times over the last few games we’ve seen him and Nowell 2 on 1 with no pass going out and it’s something that needs working on.

    Can’t say I was impressed by Care’s box kicking. Lots going to the Welsh back three, not enough going out or in behind to allow England to pressure. Also, the tap and go for the try was clever and spotted the Welsh napping, but the previous tap gained virtually nothing and England were lucky to keep the ball when they could have been down in the 22 with a lineout.

    I think Twelvetrees’ performance came less from him improving and more from England using him better, which is arguably more promising. Twelvetrees was acting to alleviate the pressure on Farrell, taking up a lot more of the distribution and kicking duties giving England a second option and not just employing him as a link in the chain.

  11. Think Hartley may be a bit harshly done by, the only missed throw had AW Jones smothering Lawes and one of his ruck infringements was a bit iffy too.
    Poite was mediocre personally, no favouring of any side but too many inconsistencies.
    A replay of Farrell’s cross field kick to Nowell clearly showed North tackling him still two feet in the air before dumping him into touch. Another instance showed Halfpenny taking a ball near the left touchline just outside England’s 22. Nowell quite recklessly jumped with him, causing Halfpenny to fall harshly on his back.

    Neither were called but Faletau jumping into a tackle was?

    Also has anybody seen Jiffy’s team of the week? Included the entire England back row despite Wales being quite competitive at the breakdown yet neither Marler or Wilson got so much as a mention. He also said Morgan could have won MotM, reading a few comments here it seems I missed quite a lot of Morgan’s influence. He seems to have added more to his game than just the hard smart lines we saw so much of in 2012. Another string to his bow is exactly what he needs if he’s to keep in competition with the baby mammoth. Good to see him do the full 80 too.

    What changes would you make against Italy?
    Just one for me. If we’re going to put 50 odd points on the Azzurri; we need as much impact off the bench as possible. I’d give any one of Eastmond, Yarde or Tuilagi the 23 shirt. Probably Tuilagi but they all offer more in attack than Goode, I’d just like to see 20 minutes of what he can do in partnership with Twelvtrees or Burrell.

    1. Yarde in for May and Tuilagi on the bench. May would proabably do well against the slightly less organised Azzuri defense, but for me he has not done enough to keep Yarde out. Pity Yarde was not getting game time over the weekend.

      Re Tuilagi, I will leave it to the coaching team to descide if he is fit/sharp enough. If they don’t have him on the bench then I will assume he is not quite ready.

      Would be nice to get him some time with 36 or Burrell, but no harm in them having another game together.Given the way they are playing I don’t consider Tuilagi a shoe in. If he shows he is on form and is going to bring more than one of the current pair then fine, but he will need to be sharp be a positive addition given he has basically no game time with either centre partner.

      1. Disagree. Keep the same team for the last match. Give the starters once last chance where appropriate and bring Ford on early in the second half to give him some game time if the game is won. We’re not going to overturn the Irish points difference so winning is all that matters along with giving players more experience.

        Then reassess when we know who is fit for NZ.

    2. I’d like to see Tuilagi getting some time with Burrell, who lest we forget is actually a 12 not a 13. England could find themselves in a very interesting position, in that if a player doesn’t perform, they could easily lose their place for the next game, to someone with “credit in the bank” (possible exceptions of Wood, Robshaw and Farrell)

      If used correctly, that kind of motivation could be crucial to the continued growth of the England Team.

      1. Agreed on Burrell and Tuilagi – Burrell threw a couple of nice passes off each hand on sunday,

        Think a combo of these 2 would be interesting and a threat to any team

        Am still not sold on 36 despite him turning around a shaky start against Wales. His defence is till a bit suspect and some of his passing can be pretty inaccurate

        1. Don’t think his defence is that suspect he didnt miss a tackle on Sun and given he had Roberts running at him all day that’s pretty sound to me!

          1. True Ben, he had a very good game defensively on Sun. That’s his first one though.

            So will we see him kick on from this performance or was the Wales game an aberration?

            I hope its the former, but given he has been unimpressive in a few games, he’ll need a string of good performances for me to change my mind.

  12. A lot of people not sold on 12t. Just a thought though but could Farrell’s improved form be in part thanks to 12t influence directing his 10 as Greenwood used to with Wilkinson?

    Sometimes you have to look at the sum of the parts. And whilst at some point I would like to see Burrell and Tuilagi together for this last match it makes sense to give 12t and Tuilagi some game time together ahead of the NZ tour with Ford at 10, given that I think it likely Burrell and Farrell will be unavailable for that first test.

    1. Benjit, I think that you highlight a real problem for Lancaster.

      We would all likely agree that Burrell and Farrell (and Wood, and Dickson, and Lawes, and Hartley) will be unavailable for the first test. But we don’t know. It may well be Bath vs Harlequins, as it is a KO competition at that point.

      This has got to be a nightmare for planning.

      Having said that, it also produces an opportunity to look at some different combinations, and despite what everyone will concentrate on, the actual results of these games do not matter. There is a far broader view to be taken.

  13. What a great problem for Lancaster to have….same with the front row when all fit….promising for English rugby this summer in NZ. I would start with the starting 15 against Wales, and depending on the score line bring on Yarde after an hour alonf with Ford. watching Ford is wonderful this season, any back in the world especially wingers know they will get the ball, and I feel he could help “assist” 2 maybe 3 tries on a tiring Italian side. It also will give Lancaster a good 1/2 hour to see if he can step up. England have to reply on another match going their way to win the championship, so should play to see how combinations can work before the summer tour. 12 trees is a great centre and should be allowed to help steer whatever 10 he has in setting up options….England scored that try even before he had the ball he knew what to do even before he caught it. I feel the open free playing rugby our backs are playing is being encouraged by Mike Catt who was wonderful to watch, and now maybe a great coach

  14. I think the team should have two changes, Yarde in for May and Tom Youngs in for Hartley.

    May has not been great, his constant cutting inside is getting annoying and its becoming tedious counting the amount of chances he would of had if he had ran straight and backed himself. I know Nowell has not scored either but looking at the player against France compared to the one who played Wales he is vastly improved.

    Hartley was far too costly and made the scoreline look better for Wales than it deserved, I think Youngs should be given the nod just to give Hartley a rest.

    Tui should be on the bench but it has to be said he now has some real competition from Burrell who has been one of Englands stand out performers this tournament.

    1. I have a feeling that once May breaks his duck he will then score heavily. Lacking a bit in confidence.

  15. Can’t say T Youngs in for Hartley is a good idea, as he has trouble throwing in and hooking! If he can prove he can do it at his club, then let him back in. I think Hartley will be getting it in the neck for his penalty count, and will learn but if he does it again on saturday….then i agree and put Youngs on. It might be the only way he learns that he can’t give away 12 points in a match

    Yarde is still coming back from injury, and well placed on the bench for a half hour in the second half for sure.

  16. Hartley can be simultaneously brilliant and stupid in equal measure. He is hot-headed and has a poor disciplinary record. Giving away 1 or 2 penalties is forgivable. But, when it was patently obvious to all that Halfpenny was never going to miss any kick within the English half, giving away penalties was idiotic. Youngs lacks consistency at the line out. If he could but improve in this area, he would be my personal preference.

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