England v Wales: Wales player ratings

george north

15. Leigh Halfpenny: 7
His flawless kicking kept his side in the running until half time and his positioning was as sound as ever. The fullback’s epic tackle on Luther Burrell mirrored the try saving heroics he displayed in this fixture in 2012, but while two years ago he was left bruised and victorious, on Sunday he suffered a dislocation and defeat.

14. Alex Cuthbert: 5
The first time Cuthbert took the ball on in space, in the 50th minute, he initiated Wales’ most promising attacking phase with a powerful burst. But he never threatened the England try line, and looked just as stranded as his teammates, as his opposite man, Jonny May, scampered around the park freely.

13. Jonathan Davies: 4
Before this contest, Davies had played only 80 disjointed minutes of regional rugby, since suffering a pectoral injury in early November and his rushed return has only highlighted the shallowness of the Welsh midfield. He looked rusty and timid as he failed to trouble the English defence. Dominated by his opposite number, Luther Burrell.

12. Jamie Roberts: 4.5
The Welsh wrecking ball was caged by a staunch English defence. He did not bully his way over the gain line as he usually does and his only promising burst came after he latched onto Rhys Webb’s offload. Butchered Wales’ best attacking opportunity of the second half when he clumsily kicked the ball away in the 50th minute.

11. George North: 6
He was kept relatively quiet until the latter stages of the second half. North always finds his stride against tired legs and Sunday proved no different. He carved through the English defence with pace and power on several occasions and made a nuisance of himself at the breakdown securing two turnovers. Still, he should have put Dan Lydiate in for a first-half try but he opted to kick instead.

10. Rhys Priestland: 3
It was another poor performance from the one-dimensional Welshman. Teams are now fully aware that they can kick loosely in behind the Welsh line without fear of retribution as Priestland continuously sweeps behind and hacks it back. He kicked aimlessly into the hands of the English back three and was stifled by the blistering line speed of the white wall. Made several costly errors.

9. Rhys Webb: 5.5
Distributed quickly and cleanly despite a lack of front foot ball and tested the English fringe defence with some swift snipes. Put Jamie Roberts through with a brilliant offload in the 27th minute. Continues to show much more urgency and imagination than his predecessor.

1. Gethin Jenkins: 3
The Welshman’s 104th cap will be one he will want to forget. Jenkins was decimated by Dave Wilson in the scrum, and Romain Poite finally lost patience with the veteran’s blatant boring in and banished him to the bin in the 53rd minute.

2. Richard Hibbard: 4
He will be lucky to retain his place for the Scotland fixture. Hibbard did not cross the gain line once and threw poorly. His overthrow in the 32nd minute gifted the hosts the field position that led to the Luther Burrell’s try. He struggled in the scrum.

3. Adam Jones: 4
Did not get his hands on the ball once and after dismantling him in Cardiff last year, Jones was outdone by Joe Marler this time round, which is more evidence of the Welshman’s inability to adapt to the new set piece procedures. No longer fit enough to compete at Test level, he was unable to live with the high tempo of the match.

4. Jake Ball: 7.5
English-born Ball continues to thrive in the international arena. Winning just his third cap, the lock defended with vicious intent and made 13 forceful tackles. He proved dynamic and dependable in an otherwise shaky Welsh lineout.

5. Alun Wyn Jones: 6
He ran himself into the ground, made 14 tackles in a typically vigorous defensive display and carried with purpose but he was unable to get a look in at the break down. Did plenty of grunt work but Wales’ second-choice skipper could not exert the influence he usually does on occasions such as these.

6. Dan Lydiate: 6.5
Once again, Lydiate topped the Welsh tackle count with 15. He axed the English oak trees with gusto which brought his skipper into play on the deck.

7. Sam Warburton: 7
While certain Welsh political representatives questioned Warburton’s patriotism, no Welsh constituent can justly question their captain’s commitment to the cause. Warbuton was influential, hammering anything in a white shirt and making a nuisance of himself at the breakdown.

8. Taulupe Faletau: 6.5
While his fellow forwards were stopped in their tracks, Faletau never took a backwards step. The Welshman was gallant with ball in hand, his athletic advances causing the English plenty of problems and he confronted them with aggression and power in defence. But he loses points for turning his back on Danny Care as the scrum half walked over for the first score.

Replacements: 6
Mike Philips was introduced with nearly half an hour left but had little influence on the game and looked ponderous at the back of the breakdown. Ken Owens deserves to start next week, after providing the Welsh lineout with some much-needed stability. Paul James should have been introduced earlier, scrummaging well, after his predecessor was twisted into submission.

Justin Tipuric did nothing but set up a brilliant English counter attack when he fumbled the ball shortly after being introduced. Dan Biggar played much flatter than Preistland, but still struggled to orchestrate any inroads into English territory. Rhodri Jones also proved more competent in the scrum than his forerunner.

By Nathan Hyde (@NathanHyde2)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

41 thoughts on “England v Wales: Wales player ratings

  1. I am unhappy with Halfpenny’s final contribution.

    Firstly, it denied us a glorious try.

    Secondly, it was really poor technique from which he was lucky to “only” dislocate his shoulder. He could have broken his neck.

    No question that it was brave, committed, effective etc, etc

    BUT when we coach kids, week-in, week-out about their tackle techniques, it is disturbing to see top, top players like Halfpenny getting it wrong.

    I wish him a full recovery, and successful – dislocated shoulders can be lengthy and tricky to recover from.

    1. And it has ended his season. Denying Gatland his best player as they continue to search for a scalp against South Africa.
      It was insane commitment, but with 6 minutes to go and 11 points behind, I think it was a poor decision made by sheer passion as opposed to levelheadedness.

      He is the best goal kicker in the world. The contact his boot makes with the ball is just so perfectly clean that the pill just glides through the posts from anywhere within 50m, no matter the angle. Coming up against the two Steyns, Wales will miss him dearly.

      1. The SA tour is a nightmare. If tiredness really is a factor then we need to leave at least 12 boys at home, most of them would be a wrench to leave. Which means taking a dev team on a summer tour to SA. What a great idea! If not then we just grind them for another summer, no rest, no preseason training.

  2. Well, it’s a difficult thing to contain. When you’re on the international stage, your first thought is making everything work accurately and perfectly. However, when you’ve got a choice between not making the tackle, or making it badly, when you’re on the international stage with your national pride flowing through your veins, your only thought is getting something on the man to stop him from scoring.

    Rugby history is resplendent with those characters who have put themselves on the line in pursuit of international glory. Buck Shelford’s torn scrotum, Lewis Moody’s use of his face to stop balls and players, George Smith wobbling off the pitch and back on again with severe concussion. The passion isn’t something you can take out of international rugby, but as long as people like Leigh Halfpenny go around injuring themselves, you’ve got great examples to show your kids how not to do it.

    1. Wookie, I am not sure that your examples are the same thing. Halfpenny had the option to tackle with his left shoulder, and thus protect his head and neck. It should have come as instinctive to him, and my point is that it is worrying that it didn’t.

      I saw another one recently – a Leicester player I think – who got Billy Vunipola knee in the head as he recklessly dived at his legs, with his head ludicrously badly positioned.

      1. Yeah, I mean it’s fairly easy to get things wrong heat of the moment. I’d call myself a good tackler but I suffered a decent neck injury because I misjudged a #8’s run and got my head in his chest. Stopped him, but I wouldn’t recommend it, you see it plenty in rugby and it’s often called a clumsy tackle. I’m fairly certain though that if Halfpenny went outside him he wouldn’t have the weight to pull Burrell into touch, the only options were to get under him and risk himself or to make a safe tackle and risk not saving the try.

        I agree, you don’t want to teach or encourage kids to do these things, but on the international stage people will always risk their bodies and they’ll be revered for their dedication. The advantage is of course you have an excellent tool to teach kids not to tackle like that. Next time you see a kid try to tackle like that you can show them the video and the agony he’s in afterwards, but teaching any technique isn’t just about teaching someone to do it right, it’s showing them how to do it wrong.

        1. Yes I understand your point.

          I guess that my real frustration is that highly developed athletes such as this, still seem to have a dominant shoulder.

          I wonder if it were on the other wing, whether he would have led with his right shoulder. Or used his left, in trying to get more of his body momentum behind it. We’ll never know.

          1. In American Football you’re taught to tackle the other way round. Put your head and shoulder between the man and where he wants to go.

            If Halfpenny had tackled him the “proper” way, Burrrell would probably have scored.

            It’s quite common now in Rugby to see the “head on the wrong side” style of tackle. Whilst it’s often more effective at stopping a man, it’s obviously more dangerous for the tackler.

            Of course, in American football you also get a helmet………

  3. I think 5.5 for Webb is a little harsh, given North got a 6 despite butchering a simple 2 on 1. This is punishing him for the failures of those around him (particularly his half back partner).

    He did almost everything right. Worked the fringes, quick delivery, his ofload to Roberts was one of the few real heart in mouth moments in the first half. I feared the Welsh backs were about to break out.

    Pity he ruined a great tackle on Marler by not rolloing away. Still, he deserves a 6!

  4. I thought Webb was at the heart of the problems for Wales. Really slow at the base of the ruck. Made me think watching Greig Laidlaw deliver the ball in installments wast actually that bad!!

    1. Might have to rewatch some of the match. I thought Phillips was slower when he came on.

      Given Preistland has played with Phillips, can’t see some slightly quicker service beign the cause of problems.

  5. Fair scores, glad the “English born” Ball got some praise. I look forward to all player ratings being accompanied with full national lineage in the future!

    Picking JD was the mistake we feared it might be, but that’s hindsight.

    We all used to say we’d suffer without Adam, but we all thought that meant without through absence, not without through starting to decline. I’m torn between wanting to see him go out with grace, deserved after being one of the best in the world at his position, and wanting to let him gently go now so he doesn’t suffer a few years of maulings.

    1. Amazingly, most of the English starting 15 were indeed English, 1 kiwi aside. That must be the most English team to have taken to a rugby pitch in many a year. Obviously the Welsh team apart………………………………!

      1. Name any English players playing for Wales I’ll tell you they might have been born in England but they have Welsh blood in them in the parents , Jake Ball’s father is Welsh from Colwyn Bay .

        Can name a few Welsh playing for England too with Welsh parents Dewi Mortis born and breed in Wales , Stuart Barnes , Lewis Moody mother I can go on but it’s pathetic like all the Saffers and Samoans and Tongans and NZ rejects playing for England , teapot calling the kettle black comes to mind , see you in Cardiff yeah .

        1. – “I can go on but it’s pathetic”
          – “All the Saffers and Samoans and Tongans and NZ rejects”

          You were right; that was pathetic, and not just because of the distinct lack of commas.
          Aside from Barritt, who hasn’t started since Cardiff, there are no South Africans in the squad. In regards to the pacific islanders, Manu learned all his rugby here, as did the Vunipolas. Pot/kettle/black certainly does come to mind when you consider the Vunipolas have a cousin…
          As for Hartley being a NZ reject; Sean Fitzpatrick; one of the greatest bookers of all time called Hartley world class. And as Mealamu is on the verge of retirement and Dane Coles is largely untested (same age as Hartley, less than 1/3 of the caps), he’d probably be a shoe in for NZ now. Hardly what I call a reject.

        2. Conrad – it was only a bit of fun – it wasn’t a serious comment. The world is a smaller place now and people play for different countries from those of their birth for an ever increasing and bewildering reasons. It’s just a fact of life. At the end of the day, the players generally play for the country that they feel most affiliated to.

          Also if you read my comments clearly you will see that I have made reference to the fact that surprisingly this is a very English team without it’s normal smattering of Welsh, Italians, Saffers, kiwis, south sea islanders, etc, etc.

        3. Gatland has made reference to tactically capping some of the dual qualified guys so they couldn’t play for England, just so happens some of them have turned out to be rather good (most of the time!)

          It’s a novel concept for us to be exporters of rugby players.

    2. I feel the Lions tour and Adam’s key role in it of twisting Robinson into a curly wurly mould was his best opportunity for a swansong. But I admit even with the loss of the hit being a weapon, I didn’t predict a decline anywhere near this quick for the big man.
      Even as an Englishman, it is sad to see such a great be reduced like that. It wasn’t all bad though, he was still able to give Mako some problems, and have the cheek to pat him on the head after! Gotta love him.
      On the topic of props, I was really impressed with Marler (who I thought was absolute sh*te before coming of age in the Argentina tour). His ability to take a beating, learn from it so effectively and get back on the horse has really helped him to scale what is usually a very steep learning curve. Within 12 months he’s already flipped the tables on the likes of Mas and Jones and made himself into a genuinely good back up for Corbisiero. Fingers crossed Cole’s injury will have a similar effect on Wilson and Thomas, not to mention revitalise “The Sheriff” to his 2012 days.

      1. Sorry but the patting on the head or back of opposition players when winning a penalty or scoring a try shows such a lack of respect and has no place on the rugby field. Congratulate your own players by all means as I believe England did but I absolutely hate these football esque wind ups.

        1. Particularly amusing when they were losing as well. Seems funny to take the piss out of an opposing player for giving away a penalty and then looking at the scoreboard to see you’re still losing. Who’s smiling then?!

    3. Brighty, I guess it is felt that Ball raised his game as he was making his home debut :-)

      Unlike the lower scoring backs from Solihull, Gloucester and King’s Lynn who have all been there before. (joke)

        1. Correct, that is the main thing. Though, technically it is only “Partly” Welsh, Conrad.

          Seriously though, no-one is suggesting that it is wrong, as it is perfectly normal these days. My own kids have the option of three different countries should they ever be good enough to play international sport, and I would be more than happy for them to represent any of them.

          1. Blub, my kids have one option. I think that technically they have some multiple options due to something on their mothers side but honestly, they know they have one option or they had better get around to finding somewhere else to live!

            (joke – I hate adding this as it sort of kills the funny but I’m sure someone will take offence if I don’t).

            1. Indeed. I like to think that my kids have options if they are not good enough for England :-)
              (my wife doesn’t find that as funny as I do)

            2. So the dark family secret is your kids are English qualified?

              Start practising ….. “Swing Lowwwwww …..”

              1. Jeez no Matt, there’s a bit of Irish and Scottish in there, but no English. I wouldn’t admit the latter on an open forum, would I?

          2. My boys have two options. English or Indian (on my wife’s side), and last time I checked India don’t have a rugby team (I wait with baited breath to be proved wrong with a clip of the Indian rugby team).

      1. My fave quote from a rugby player with regards to all this “nationality vs qualification” stuff was from Chris Horsman, an Englishman offered a Saxons place with England (which he had to turn down due to testicular cancer) and later a chance of a full place with Wales from residency. He chose Wales and his response was “It’s like playing football for Brazil – it means that much to people and I can’t wait.”

        1. Vaguely seriously I do have some unease with the current setup. I dislike the headhunting that goes on around the world – everyone does it, some more professionally than others. I know it’s in the rules it just leaves a sour taste in my mouth e.g. a prop stepping off a plane into a country he’s never been to before and straight into the national team. Ok, now it’s obvious that I am picking on Ireland so I will also add in Andy Marinos as another example that made me uncomfortable. And Jason Jones Hughes.

          I think residency should be five years and, to get all militant, I think that it should come with a change of citizenship. If you truly feel that Wales is your country then get a UK passport. (I know it’s all much muddier because of UK/EURO passports, etc.)

          I dislike the attempts to attract 16 year olds from one country to another with the view of them playing for that country in 3 years. I remember a while back Wales had some master plan of scholarships and stuff for 5 18 year old South Africans that got shot down due to public backlash. It’s a fine line but I like to feel that it’s not totally mercenary. Probably naive but for example when I see Fale, Tuilagi, Cuthbert, Corbisiero etc. I get the impression that the move to the country came first, the rugby option was second, and in all cases they worked their way up through Welsh/English clubs, etc. That just feels right to me, the alternative situations I’ve seen just look like “nationality transfers” and that just feels wrong.

          Will stop prattling on now…

            1. To be fair to the kiwis although many players are of PI heritage there’s a lot of families that have emigrated to NZ for economic reasons and the kids have had all their rugby education in NZ.

              There’s a fair few turning out for Samoa that were trained in NZ!

          1. First, to get it out of the way, all that long time reader and new commenter stuff. Really enjoy the blog and the comments community you all have here (by and large).

            But there’s one question thats always struck me about this debate that has finally prompted a comment. With regards to having to change nationality before representing a country, I can understand that the general rule should be along those lines.

            But, to give an example, what about a case like Tim Visser? I know he was pretty much brought up in the UK, and grew up playing rugby here, but I think he’s still quite proudly Dutch, no? So if he didn’t renounce his Dutch citizenship (can people confirm this?) then he would never get the chance to play at the highest level of the sport he clearly loves, given the relative development of rugby in The Netherlands.

            So how would any rules on national eligibility work, when factoring in talented individuals who would not otherwise get to play at the top international level if they chose (very understandably) to remain citizens of their home countries and/or identify more with those countries as opposed to the countries they come to represent?

            I realise that these will probably be very unique cases, and thus priority should obviously be given to players with real ties to a country, but its something to consider I feel.

  6. It’s difficult to argue with the generaly poor ratings but, fitness issues aside, good players don’t become bad players overnight do they? I notice that in the Welsh press, and among some Welsh bloggers, Gatland is coming in for a lot of critisism. Are we I wonder reaching the point where the WRFU decision to extend his contract to 2019 will begin to look like another self inflicted wound.

    In any field of management, including rugby, diminishing returns set in after a few years. There seems to be a limit to the length of effective contribution any one individual can make. However good their track record they seem to eventually run out of new ideas or drive. Obviously how long this takes varies with individuals but 5 – 7 years would be a very good average, particularly with highly opinionated people such as gatland appears to be. If Wales don’t perform at RWC 2015 it could be very expensive to buy out his contract.

  7. I disagree with you about the scrum it was just the ref’s interpretation of the scrum .

    Wales looked a very extremely tired team all round . It has been unforgiving long hard season with so many Lions in the team .

    He has had his warnings over Preistland the guy can’t kick he his a confidence player but he played with his head down all game , we must fetch Bigger in .

    I thought our tactics played well into the English hands and when we did have go forward the handling errors were the worst I seen in many a year wit this Welsh team they were awful .

    We need a long rest pre-season and we need to sort the political issues in rugby in Wales out because I feel we fetched a New Zealander here to sort our mess out last time and then it was messed up by Roger Lewis with the funding issue for the regions , David Moffet agreed to pay the banks in thirty five years but in come Roger Lewis who said he could pay the banks back in less time hence there is no money now to pay the regions because of Lewis in is stupidity with the bank .

    1. The overhead camera angles showed Wilson straight and Jenkins looking like he was about to moon the assistant ref. If Wilson was doing something wrong I have no idea what it was.

      1. Agreed Matt. Now I have no idea what goes on in the front row, but Jenkins was clearly sideways, and that has always been pinged by refs. He knows the score. He needed to sort it out.

  8. Like reading these “posts”…..thought I’d throw in a couple grenades……I was in Wales (Cardiff) on saturday, and very clearly stood out from the locals with my Hampshire accent. Not one welsh person i spoke to thought Wales would win on saturday. I thought the Welsh would have won by 3 points or so, depending on England not giving away scrum penalities. As it happened Hartley might as well had a red shirt on as with him and Halfpenny working together he kept the Welsh in the game. If he can sort out his disapline he will be an outstanding Hooker now he has learnt how to hook the ball! The game was won in all area’s of the field by a team who “played” what they saw….the perfect example of that was the first try by Care. The fact that it was the second time he had taken a quick penalty should have alerted the welsh that he was looking at running at them. The only Welshman who had his back to the try line walking backwards was Warberton, and luckily for Care he was too far away to do anything about it.
    Now that it is unlikely that Halfpenny will be fit for saturday, there is a good chance that Scotland could turn them over……….It was a poor tackle by Halfpenny not a “great” tackle, he has hurt himself . If Burrell had dived for the line earlier (like he should have) he might well have scored as his foot would have been infield, and gone under Halfpenny….bet he does not make that mistake again.
    I think England won that match from the front 3. Marler has “grown up”, and now a good prop. Wilson is still “rusty” from lack of matches, yet they dominated the Welsh front row, The Welsh to be fair, played like England did last year….poorly…..all over the park and showed that they really are not a side 30 points better than England. Gatland is “over coaching” them……let them play the match “how they see it at the time” Warberton had a poor game as captain he should have encouraged more and bollocked people on the park taking charge Jones for me is/would be a better captain….he cries on the anthem……it means that much to him

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