15. Mike Brown: 9.5
It’s become rather difficult to keep this fresh. The undisputed player of the Six Nations capped a superlative-brimming tournament with a man-of-the-match performance against Italy. Two tries and an assist, 133 metres made, five defenders beaten – his statistical excellence cannot be denied. No longer just a solid option at the back, but now also England’s most potent attacking weapon.
14. Jack Nowell: 7
Had one of his better games of the Six Nations and took his try well, although the Italy defensive effort from first phase was hardly convincing. In a game that England wanted to open up, he probably could have worked a bit harder to get himself on the ball a bit more, but when he did, he looked threatening.
13. Luther Burrell: 8.5
Looked thoroughly disgruntled, for want of a stronger word, at being substituted early in the second half, and rightly so after another brilliant performance in an England shirt. His half break and offload for the first try was glorious, and while he does not possess the brute strength of his replacement, he has far more intelligence. Tuilagi’s undisputed dominance of the England 13 shirt is over.
12. Billy Twelvetrees: 7
A quieter performance from Twelvetrees, after last week’s heroics against Wales. He distributed well and showed a couple of nice offloads, but was outshone by those around him. Still, the distributing role that he fulfils is a vital one, and he offers a nice alternative to Farrell at first receiver.
11. Jonny May: 5
This game should have been made for him. It was open, and while four other English backs crossed the whitewash he never looked like threatening the Italian line. His lateral running, which works so well at club level as he usually ends up spotting a gap, has not worked on the international stage. Whether it is because he lacks the confidence of games in his Gloucester shirt, or because there is less time/space, is unimportant.
10. Owen Farrell: 8
Hit a superb line for his try that suggests he could well do a job at centre in future, and he stood consistently flat to bring a host of dangerous players outside him into the game well. A try and two assists would usually score you higher, but he is docked a point for the petulant aggression that saw England penalised at the death in a try-scoring situation. Seriously needs to cut that streak out of his game.
9. Danny Care: 8
Another sparky, scampering display from a man who has been vital in injecting life into the English attack. He plays the game at such a high tempo that he drags others with him – do not underestimate his influence on Farrell’s transformation into an attacking weapon in that regard.
1. Mako Vunipola: 7
There is no doubting that Vunipola is England’s most effective loosehead in open play, consistently barrelling his way over the gainline and taking an opportune try well. However, he still has issues at scrum time. The Italians couldn’t really make the most of them, but would you feel comfortable with him starting against the South Africans? Probably not.
2. Dylan Hartley: 7.5
Much better from Hartley, who has clearly learnt his lesson from the penalty-laden display against Wales. His lineout throwing was again sublime, and he was also a nuisance both with and without ball in hand in the loose.
3. David Wilson: 6.5
There isn’t too much to say about Wilson’s performance, really – it was neither excellent nor terrible. He had less luck against Matias Aguero than against Gethin Jenkins the week before, but was generally solid.
4. Joe Launchbury: 6.5
He has to be docked points for the intercept pass to Sarto, sadly. It killed England’s momentum at a time when they were really starting to believe they could set Ireland a target. Other than that, however, it was another unassumingly tireless effort from Launchbury who hit everything in a blue shirt in a sweaty shift under the Italian sun.
5. Courtney Lawes: 7.5
More brutal physicality from a man who has been one of England’s players of the tournament. His transformation into a lineout guru is now officially complete, after he again oversaw a strong set-piece display, including an important steal in the build-up to Mike Brown’s first try.
6. Tom Wood: 7
As always, it was an unfussy performance from Wood. He made his tackles, he hit his rucks, and he took his lineouts. On that note, he has become a really important source of set-piece ball for England.
7. Chris Robshaw: 8
The ultimate leader-by-example, Robshaw’s seemingly unflinching work rate was exemplified by his last minute try when he tracked a break from George Ford to crash over the line from short range. That he was the man popping up on the shoulder of the substitute fly-half after 80 minutes of hard work tells you everything you need to know about him.
8. Ben Morgan: 7.5
Another solid performance from Morgan, who offers more around the park than Vunipola. He has the hands and the brain to play the link-man role, while there were also plenty of strong carries that saw him end with 44 metres made. A more than capable deputy to big Billy.
There were two great success stories here: Manu Tuilagi and George Ford. The former showed exactly why he was rushed back into the squad with a brutish barge over the try line from ten metres out, while the latter came on for his second cap and immediately showed how dangerous he can be with a smart break and pass to send Robshaw over.
Elsewhere Dave Attwood put in another superb cameo that included a galavanting charge down the pitch as well as shoring up the scrum, whilst it was also good to see Tom Johnson get some game time again.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images