New Zealand v England third test: England player ratings


15. Mike Brown: 5.5
It’s been a long old season, and it showed in Brown’s performance this weekend. He’s not been at his best this tour, and again in the third test he struggled to get away from defenders and also misjudged a few kicks early on.

14. Chris Ashton: 4.5
Woeful defence from Ashton, sadly, once again. It has to be said that he was left isolated on too many occasions by the men inside him, but this excuse only works so far – some of the one-on-one tackles he missed were truly terrible. Didn’t get enough ball in attack.

13. Manu Tuilagi: 5.5
Was one half of a defensive nightmare in midfield in the first half, and was far too often found out of position. Some strong bursts in the second forty have lifted his score up somewhat.

12. Kyle Eastmond: 3.5
Painful to watch at times. It wasn’t his size that let him down, it was his positioning and general reading of the New Zealand attack. When England had ball, he was invisible. His stats read zero passes, one carry, zero kicks – simply not good enough for a man who can be such a weapon. A really steep learning curve.

11. Marland Yarde: 6.5
Missed a couple of crucial tackles on opposite man Jane, but was one of England’s only shining lights in attack. Beat five defenders and averaged over 10 metres per carry – a decent performance to cap what has been an overwhelmingly positive tour for the speedster.

10. Freddie Burns: 5
Far from the cool, collected performance of the first test, mirroring the frustratingly inconsistent performances he put in at club level this year. Kicking from the tee and hand was inaccurate, as was a lot of his tackling.

9. Ben Youngs: 8
The big positive for England. After a season in which he has so struggled for form, this was much more like the Youngs of old. Set the tone with a smart snaffle on Kieron Read from the first scrum, and darted through gaps around the breakdown all game.

1. Joe Marler: 5
Pinged a couple of times at the scrum and wasn’t able to get any of his rumbling runs going. Scrum was not the force it was in the first test.

2. Dylan Hartley: 4.5
Reinstated by Lancaster but that faith was not repaid with a good performance. The lineout wobbled and he did not carry to any great effect.

3. David Wilson: 6
Has had a decent tour and shown that England’s options at tighthead do not begin and end with Dan Cole. Always a rock in the scrum.

4. Joe Launchbury: 5.5
Much like Mike Brown, Launchbury has failed to reach the dizzying heights of his performances in the Six Nations. Still put in a decent shift, but uncharacteristically fell off a couple of tackles and was not as conspicuous in support as he has been.

5. Courtney Lawes: 6.5
Perhaps not the eye-catching, physical kind of performance that we are used to, but it was an important one nonetheless from Lawes. Made 100% of his tackles (that numbered fewer than only Wood and Robshaw) and won some crucial turnovers.

6. Tom Wood: 6.5
As ever it was a shift full of graft and endeavour from Wood. Made his tackles, won some lineouts and a few turnovers to boot. Even managed to carry to some effect and ended with the most metres made of any English forward – although the fact that figure is just 17 tells you everything about which direction the pack were going for most of the game.

7. Chris Robshaw: 6
Like Wood he was solid, although he did slip off a few tackles, which isn’t like him. Should take some credit for rallying his troops at half time to at least stop the rot somewhat in the second half.

8. Billy Vunipola: 4.5
Yellow card was certainly harsh, but even leaving that to one side this was not the kind of performance we have come to expect from Vunipola, who is another who looks to be struggling with fatigue. 14 metres made from six carries is a poor return from a man who is expected to be one of the main sources of go-forward.

Replacements: 6.5

Arguably the biggest positive to come from the bench was Kieron Brooks, who looked strong in the scrum, forcing a penalty, and powerful in the loose with a couple of nice carries. Ben Morgan was not much more conspicuous than Vunipola, while Mullan, Attwood and Dickson all came on too late to really make a difference.

Luther Burrell certainly deserves credit for shoring up the defence in the second half, but you have to wonder if maybe the All Blacks had taken their foot off the pedal a bit. Like the first test, Danny Cipriani looked bursting with life and showed some lovely touches after replacing Burns.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

12 thoughts on “New Zealand v England third test: England player ratings

  1. Cant really disagree with any of these scores. I thought a lot of the players looked tired (not surprising really), and this was one game too far. Youngs did look better than previous matches, but still not his old self. For me Cipriani was the best player out there. If he can keep up this form into next season, I would be tempted to start him in the AI’s.

    1. Agree re Cipriani. Previously I’ve been a massive Farrell supporter, but Cipriani for me has the widest and best skill set for a 10 available to England right now. He has real variety in terms of the length and subtlety of his passing and kicking game, and seems to be getting back to his best as a running 10 also. Nothing on this tour showed him to be lacking defensively either, although equally he wasn’t tested much.

      I would like to see what he could do in 60 mins against top opposition.

      1. I’m still a big Farrell supporter (do wish he would just play the game, and not get too involved sometimes though), but I think at the moment Cipriani is the best fly half we have. His defensive frailties seem to be a thing of the past, and I saw him tracking back to make some very good tackles on Saturday. His decision making has improved significantly. If we could get him with two centres who sing off the same page as him and each other we’d be laughing!!

  2. Nothing wrong with these ratings that I can see. As a whole I think the team suffered from a lack of continuity in selection, which is partially the fault of the logistical balls-up and partially the fault of Lancaster for not prioritising continuity over his “best players” (many of whom have very little to distinguish them from the next option in their position, especially at the fag end of a long and brutal season). A shame to end the tour like this, but there were positives in there, and England will come back stronger (though likely with a very ropey first 15 minutes that will probably take the Test out of contention) against NZ in November. Eastmond isn’t a Test-level 12 at the moment. I was surprised by how well Ben Youngs played.

  3. Largely agree with those, but would swap Eastmond’s and Ashton’s scores around. Dropping off tackles is one thing at this level; avoiding them altogether is another one entirely. The ABs, Saffers and Welsh wouldn’t accept it, so why should we?

  4. Eastmond getting picked on a bit. No one had much time with the ball in the 1st half, and Burns, Eastmond, Manu and Ashton were all at sea in defence, that the 12/13 channel was the one targeted shouldn’t reflect badly solely on him. He actually only missed a couple of tackles, and none of them were in the phase of a try.

    Burns hit most his tackles well too, much better record than Farrell the week before.

    The issue was one of organisation, and without having inside knowledge, pinning that on one guy seems harsh. If you really want one name to pin it on, it’s A Farrell. But it’s got to be on more than just one man, if the system is out, especially multiple times.

    Also, Youngs on an 8? the highest of the squad??? Was I the only one watching him take good front foot ball and turning it into the most turgid ball possible? Taking steps, pausing, then passing? Along with some very poor box kicks? OK, he made a couple of very nice runs, but the try was setup by Launchbury giving him a lovely offload, and most of his actual scrum half play was dire.

    We didn’t compete at the breakdown, giving them quick ball, missed tackles gave them front foot ball, making it tough to compete, giving them quick ball etc etc. It seemed like it was a strategy to keep defenders in the line, but seeing as the ABs were cutting us apart anyway, we should have tried slowing them down a bit.

  5. It’s interesting to read that a few columnists are saying eastmond will never pull on an England shirt again. He has been singled out for harsh criticism, when he isn’t a poor tackler. If you watch the run up to the tries he got sucked in too close to the ruck by decoy runners or a big carrier, he actually makes most of his tackles. The system was wrong and a Farrell should put his hand up. Burrell came out in credit but NZ had few chances to attack in a similar way they did in the first half. All their attack came from set piece and went straight down the 10/12 channel to isolate Manu and Ashton on their own. In the second half they didn’t have similar field position with their set pieces, hence Burrell had less to do defensivy. And Ben youngs began putting Manu on the front foot pressuring the NZ midfield. I would wager eastmond would have scored the try rather than knocking on. Another reason he looked so poor was he never got the chance to showcase his running threat with those dancing feet, he barely got a chance to show what he could do at all. Destructive to a players confidence hauling him off at half time. Burrell isn’t an international quality 12, he doesn’t make the carrying yards of a big ball crash centre and his pass stretches no further than 12 metres. A combo of Burrell and Manu wouldn’t work, the subtlety of a nonu and Smith axis isn’t there. Hence the need to try the twelvetrees/ Manu combination, we would lose a lot of the threat our wingers provide if we can’t bring them into the game after the first phase. Eastmond deserves another shot and I’d love to see Christian wade on the wing. Wade and yard on the wings would seriously worry any defense.
    We need a bigger ball carrier at six. Wood and robshaw are great work horses but when Billy v or Morgan aren’t going forward well, we need another big carrier coming around the corner, something England lacks at the moment. I really hope kvesic and croft come back pushing hard for the aautumn.
    All this talk of slamming Sam playing twelve is really grinding on me. Especially when certain columnists are putting him in with a world cup chance. I find this ignorant hyperbole implausible, especially as the bath management see him as a six or eight. Hello massive ball carrier on the flank to support the two number eights.
    Does anyone else get the feeling the coaching team don’t take much responsibility for how the team performs on the field? Constantly hearing how they read the riot act at half time, how the back line isn’t performing how it should. I think the coaches need to put their hands up a bit, either for expecting too much from the team or just plain old getting it wrong.

    1. The media are extremely fickle, and most don’t understand the game well enough to cast judgement. I saw someone said Launchbury needs to work on his stamina. I know he has tailed off at the end of the last 2 seasons, but he has an unbelievable engine, and I stopped taking any further notice as to what that article had to say.

      All the ex-players I’ve seen commenting have identified the defending woes as a “team error” rather than one player being responsible. Yes there were individual errors made during the game, but certainly not sufficient to write off a players career as a result.

      I’ve been a big fan of Eastmond since that try he scored against Wasps. He’s probably got the best footwork out of any England player, and I wouldn’t mind betting that he’s one of the most powerful players pound for pound in the squad. Can’t think of many players in world rugby that offer the skill set that he does, therefore I think he is worth persevering with.

      Agree that the back row needs a more effective carrier. Wood and Robshaw are great players, fantastic work rate and don’t make many mistakes, but they so rarely break tackles or make any significant distance through the tackle. Burgess, however, will not be the answer. I seriously doubt he will be able to play in the back row, he’s never rucked, mauled, scrummaged (properly) or been in a lineout in his career. Most league converts don’t play in the pack (Brad Thorn an exception). He wouldn’t make Bath’s back row, let alone England’s.

      Regardless, I’m very much looking forward to his arrival to Union.

      1. Agree with that – there’s no hope that Burgess can learn the role of a flanker or 8 in the time he has. He’ll be in the centres – am also looking forward to his arrival even though i don’t have a clue as to whether or not it will be a success

        I agree that England need more ball carriers. If BV or Morgan aren’t getting us on the front foot then we are lacking in options. I never thought I’d say this but I’d prefer to see Haskell on the flank instead of Wood. I’d also prefer to see one from Attwood or Slater starting at lock

        Would also like to see the props and Hartley offering themselves as carriers more (Webber was good in this regard). They need to be coming onto the ball at pace one out from the rucks, not standing statically in mid-field as they did far too often.

        In fact – and these are the major 2 differences between our most recent defeat of the ABs and the lost tour – too often the pack was found in mid-field, slowing/dropping the ball and standing static; there was little coming onto the ball at pace. And secondly, in the win at Twickenham we hit every ruck with venom, whether their or ours, clearing them out and giving us quick ball and counter-rucking to slow down theirs. Whereas, this tour we seem to have regressed and almost ceded the rucks to them, not attacking on their ball and not getting enough players to clear out on ours.

  6. I think England from this tour know that Tualgi has to play 13. Now it is about building that back line around him. We know what his passing game isn’t great so we need to make amends for that fly half and inside centre. Get a nippy fly half with a great passing game and an inside centre who can pass to the back three and bring them into the game, whilst also having the bulk to distract defenders away from Tualgi. Hello Cipriani and Twelvetrees.

  7. Too soon to call quits on Burrells international career. Same applies to Eastmond. Agree that we do need more of a ball carrier at 6 and 7. Haskell? Obviously Armitage would be the answer, seriously is it too late for him to sign over in England for 2015? Does anyone think lancaster might exercise the exceptional circumstance clause? I know the answers to both but i just want to hear what i want to hear!

  8. The ABs dominated the 1st 1/2. Won the breakdown & drove the maul. Sucked in the English forwards & left the backline ‘exposed’ with man on man marking. No forwards in the gaps. With little ball or territory, the gap was too big to pull back after 1/2 time. Game over as a contest.

    Also England kicked too much & inaccurately after 1/2 time which chewed the clock. Needed to keep ball, run at NZ & score tries.

    So this rating & or blaming of individuals is not that constructive. Anyone can sing on the front foot, but less easy going back wards. Blaming Ashton, e.g., and praising Yarde seems subjective, especially when the latter missed 2 tackles (B. Smith & Jane) which resulted in 2 tries.

    However, there seems to be a need for blood letting & blame & after just 1 game? Eastmond was given much praise prior to this match, but then immediately vilified!

    Some blame must attach to Lancaster too. As his team was over run @ breakdown & sucked into the mauls, he needed to address this like it was yesterday & to have flooded the breakdown immediately. It would have slowed NZ possession & given the ‘D’ more time to adjust itself. Also some additional forward support could have been diverted to help shore up the beleaguered backs.

    Lancaster tried a balanced game, but, in this test, Hansen just out thought him. This is not to say he was entirely wrong because, IMO, if he continues with his more rounded game, it will make England more of a THREAT!

    But simply blaming individuals? It smacks a bit too much of shooting the messengers for me.

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