New Zealand vs England first test: England player ratings

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15. Mike Brown: 7
None of the fireworks of the Six Nations, but then perhaps we have come to judge him by unfeasibly high standards. He fielded the All Blacks’ extensive kicking game well, and more often than not beat the first man when he ran the ball.

14. Marland Yarde: 6
Quiet in attack but solid in defence. The yellow card will split opinion – it was probably the correct call, but should have evened things up, not left England a man short. Worth persevering with, but needs to start translating promise into performances.

13. Manu Tuilagi: 8
England’s most dangerous attacking threat, Tuilagi does things no other player can do. Several strong carries into the heart of the New Zealand midfield tied up countless defenders, and while he gets slated for not offloading enough, more often than not there are three men clinging to him – nigh on impossible conditions to offload from. Shouldn’t be moved to the wing.

12. Kyle Eastmond: 7.5
The rapier to Tuilagi’s sledgehammer, Eastmond took to international rugby like the proverbial duck to water. He was targeted in defence but held up superbly, while with ball in hand he distributed well and made one gorgeous break that showcased his glorious sidestep.

11. Jonny May: 6.5
Signs of progress from the Six Nations – May delivered on his pre-game promise to back himself more often. While he was never fully able to let loose, there were glimpses of his raw pace, and an intelligent kick to the corner in the second half almost led to a try.

10. Freddie Burns: 7
What poor form? Burns looked a different player to the one that has so struggled all year for Gloucester. He kicking intelligently, and while he didn’t run with the ball his distribution was excellent and he brought others into the game well. A 100% place kicking success rate is also hugely impressive, given the pressure he was under.

9. Ben Youngs: 5
It’s not been a good season for Youngs and sadly that continued at Eden Park. He looked suspect in defence on occasion, and his fumble at the back of a breakdown led to the 50 metre Brodie Retallick break that ended in three points and a yellow card for Yarde.

1. Joe Marler: 7.5
Part of an England front row that went superbly well at the set-piece. While he didn’t get his hands on the ball to any great effect, that is a sacrifice most will live with if he can keep scrummaging this well.

2. Rob Webber: 7.5
An excellent performance from Webber, whose added bulk was another reason England’s scrum went so well. Hit every one of his lineouts, too, which, given the circumstances, was hugely impressive.

3. David Wilson: 7
As with Marler, he was superb in the scrum, but Wilson loses a point for several knock-ons in promising positions of attack for England.

4. Joe Launchbury: 6
It just didn’t really happen for Launchbury at Eden Park. There was plenty of endeavour, but he didn’t influence the game as he has in the past and there was some uncharacteristic inaccuracy at the restart.

5. Geoff Parling: 7.5
Parling must take a lot of credit for the superb line-out that England ran, not just on their own ball but also that saw them poach New Zealand’s ball. Didn’t carry much, but his performance presents Lancaster with one of his biggest selection headaches ahead of next week.

6. James Haskell: 7.5
This wasn’t vintage, showboating Haskell, but it was arguably more impressive as he got his hands dirty and did everything Wood usually does in an England shirt. He was England’s top tackler with 13 – almost double that of anyone else – and could have had a try in the first minute but for a cynical shirt tug from Ma’a Nonu. Will be a vital squad member as England build to the World Cup.

7. Chris Robshaw: 8.5
Robshaw set the tone for everything England did well in Auckland, starting in the first minute when his smart burst from a breakdown led to the first points of the game and announced England’s presence in the game. Continued to carry strongly, performed his linkman role with typical aplomb and didn’t miss a tackle all night.

8. Ben Morgan: 8
Another of England’s top performers, Morgan carried with intent in a solid 80-minute shift. His burst up the blindside from a scrum on England’s five metre line was indicative of the confidence with which the team are playing at the moment.

Replacements: 7
England’s replacements didn’t really change the game when they came on, but neither did they weaken the side, which was the worry when compared with the star-studded New Zealand bench. Joe Gray threw in admirably well to the lineout, given the lack of game time he’s had this year. Henry Thomas and Dave Attwood came on as a pair, as in the Six Nations – the former adding some dynamism in the loose, and the latter ensuring the set-piece strength wasn’t compromised too much.

Danny Cipriani’s return to international rugby involved an impressive cameo, and although he didn’t have long on the pitch he showed his ability and confidence with a nice outside break with his first touch of the ball. He then also held his nerve to convert the resulting penalty. Lee Dickson could have come on a bit sooner to inject some pace into the game, given Youngs’ troubles.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

24 thoughts on “New Zealand vs England first test: England player ratings

  1. I think everyone in the rugby reporting World missed Yarde’s red card ‘football tackle’ on the NZ winger in 55th minute. Look at the tape with the reverse angle camera.

    The ‘take-out’ of the AB player when NZ were on to score was awful and far worse than the 2 NZ players who should have been yellow carded in the 2nd minute re:Robshaw’s break.

    Perhaps a bit generous to Wilson. As an England No3 I expect him to scrummage v AB/Oz well but those knock-ons were a throwback to the 1980s.

    Get on the park and handle the ball and spend less time pumping weights!

    1. It looked to me as if Yarde was trying to kick the ball out of play, but because of the bounce he ended up taking out the player. Don’t think it was intentional. And it certainly wasn’t worthy of a red card.

    2. Wow, a red card? Red Cards are for “Serious foul play”.

      I am not sure that everyone missed it, I just think that (almost) everyone understood exactly what it was – including the players.

      1. I might ask the same of you Steve Rainbow-Yarde takes the guy’s legs and is nowhere near the ball.

        Case of Emperor’s new clothes from here Steve. Watch it again sky download or youtube

    3. Saw it and I know what you’re getting at, I was a bit concerned when I saw the angle from the front which looked very bad, but from all the other angles it looks like he’s going for the ball which is reasonably close

  2. I think Burns should get at least an extra 0.5, and take the same off Youngs’ score. Burns couldn’t do much more with the ball he was getting from Youngs, and you have to wonder what he could have done if Dickson had come on sooner, or if Care had been fit. Youngs showed none of his sniping, and even his usually good kicking wasn’t so great.

    Would’ve like to have seen Cips get more game time. He looked sharp when he came on, and again with better ball once Dickson was on.

    Can we also give a score for Nigel Owens? I’d give him a 5 or 6, which is very poor for him. A knock on usually means the player has knocked the ball on, not tapped it backwards intentionally whilst running backwards!!? Also how Nonu stayed on the pitch for that BLATANT pull back is incredible. It just seems more blatant every time I watch it.

  3. Enoch. To be fair to Wilson, he must of really worked on his handling and open play in the last couple of seasons as it has improved noticeably. He just had a bad day at the office in that part of his game. It happens!

    Re. The reffing – it was what it was. If England had made the most of their chances it wouldn’t have been an issue.

    1. Absolutely agree. Eng made too many mistakes. Receiving the kick off seems to have been a probelms for a while. I don’t know why.

  4. Good scores but for me Parling should be higher. Every time I’ve seen him play the front 3 seem to kill their opposition. I think he must be the 2nd row every prop/hooker dreams of playing in front of.

    “I am not sure that everyone missed it, I just think that (almost) everyone understood exactly what it was – including the players.” – yep, spot on. Please Enoch, stop this rubbish now. You’re on your own here.

    Agree with others here – England should have won anyway and should have had the game in their own hands BUT because they didn’t I also agree that Nige had undue influence. A better Eng performance would have negated Nige succumbing to “can’t send off a man in a black shirt” disease and Eng did have it in them on Saturday to deliver that, but they didn’t. As I’ve been told a million, gazillion times on here, a miss is as good as a mile.

    1. It certainly is Brighty – and on that note, how do you see Wales going against the Boks?

      1. Badly..

        Honestly can’t see much more than a physical assault and hammering. Too many players missing (yep, I know Eng did as well but we all know Eng have more players of similar quality to each other than pretty much everyone else), some of the ones we’ve taken not looking in their best form, SA looking to physically dominate us, etc. Can’t see us getting enough ball, can’t see us competing enough at the rucks, can’t see us physically holding out for 80 mins. Not good.

  5. At least 3, maybe 5 (really can’t tell on one) dodgy knock on calls from Nige, 2 of them ludicrous in the extreme. Haskell tackled Dagg in the air, that should have been a pen (no more though).

    But how not one of Fekitoa, Barrett or Smith didn’t get a yellow, I will never know. Owens clearly believed that the man was on the ground, else he wouldn’t have awarded the penalty, and whilst he said something to Fekitoa about timing, and understanding, what about the other two tacklers/assists that didn’t release either.

    Mccaw got about three warnings from Owens for coming in at the side, but never pinged for it, perhaps because he didn’t actually turn the ball, just made a nuisance, but that’s not right. And I’m fairly sure the tapped pen was Mealamu playing the ball after the ruck was formed. The ABs in general got at least two warnings that the next cynical play will get a yellow as well.

    And even with all that, England lost that game by themselves. What the hell were we doing playing in our own half? Why did Youngs let Morgan play scrum half? Why was no one close to supporting Marler for the fateful ruck, that should have been at least decent ball to setup a clearing kick? Cips got his hands on the ball at least once in those phases, when he should have smashed it down the pitch.

  6. “And even with all that, England lost that game by themselves. What the hell were we doing playing in our own half? Why did Youngs let Morgan play scrum half? Why was no one close to supporting Marler for the fateful ruck, that should have been at least decent ball to setup a clearing kick? Cips got his hands on the ball at least once in those phases, when he should have smashed it down the pitch.”

    Overwhelmingly agree with all of this. That’s what lost us the game. The ball should have been in New Zealand’s 22 and we should have forced them to do something special to win the game, and then punished any error with 3 points of our own to give us victory.

    I don’t think Burns had the good game that some have said. He never really got the backline going, any break was more down to the skill of the centres than Burns. I’d have Farrell back into the starting line-up in a heartbeat.

    I’d look to bring back Burrell too, and Ashton. Care obviously, if he’s fit, if not I’d go with Dickson. I’d look to hit up the centres and have Ashton, Brown and Yarde tracking for offloads off the big guys. Then I’d have Cipriani and Eastmond on the bench who can come on and look to unlock the game if we are trailing in the second half.

    In the forwards I’d look to freshen up the pack. Hartley, Lawes, Wood and Vunipola can all come into the 23. I’d definitely start with Lawes and Wood, perhaps with Hartley and Vunipola on the bench. This would be incredibly harsh on Haskell, who would miss out all together, so I’d even consider starting Haskell and Vunipola on the bench with Haskell covering lock in case of injury. I’d also look at brining Waller and Sinckler onto the bench, because I don’t think our current sub props offer the impact of those two from the bench.

    1. The lineup I’m holing for the second test would be: Marler, Hartley, Wilson, Launchbury, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan; Care, Farrell, May, Burrell, Tuilagi, Yarde, Brown.

      With Webber, Mullan, Thomas, Attwood, Vunipola, Dickson, Cipriani and Eastmond on the bench.
      It’s harsh on quite a few players but that’s the nature of a competitive squad with depth.

      I’d be sure to give Parling and Haskell (the two most harshly done by players) another chance to stake a claim ahead of the third test by pairing them with Attwood and Johnson respectively against the Crusaders. The only reason they drop out of the squad altogether is because Attwood and Vunipola offer more impact from the bench.
      Cipriani should get the nod over Burns in the 22 shirt for his running threat, which not only makes up for Dickson’s lack of sniping but also compliments his quick service. Like Parling and Haskell; Burns would start against Crusaders with Twelvetrees at 12, who misses out in the second test because he’s only just come back from injury and moving our best attacking threat out of position to accommodate him isn’t worth it. Nor is it worth completely dropping Eastmond who was very impressive and at the very least deserves the chance to be the super sub. Regarding Waller and Sinckler, they should first be tested against the Crusaders before being considered for a bench spot against the ABs. If they come good, name them at 17 and 18 for test three.

      If he names Barritt and Goode in the 23, I’ll be so depressed.

      1. Tom, would start Webber and have Hartley on the bench as he is coming back from injury. Hard on Attwood but would go for Parling on the bench, and whatever you say about Cipriani, SL will still go for Burns on the bench! And should Foden be on the bench? Singing from the same hymn sheet though.

      2. Actually, can Attwood start the mid week game if he’s on the bench for the second test? And would any player that impresses in the mid week game be viable for selection on the third test?
        I haven’t quite thought this through…

        1. Know what you mean. Slater has to start and I guess whoever isn’t on the bench for the second test with the sub being whoever is on the bench in the second test, so I guess that means they can play twice in the week?

      3. Tom, thats a very good 23, but like Staggy I would start with Webber.

        Cipriani and Eastmond are very good bench options, but in all honesty I cannot see anyone but Burns being the back-up 10.

    1. I will be very surprised if we do not see Goode named on the bench, although I cannot see Barritt getting a look in.

      This is by no means my team, but I think SL will go for

      Marler
      Hartley
      Wilson
      Launchbury
      Lawes
      Wood
      Robshaw
      Morgan (with BV on at 60 mins sharp, even if Morgan’s having a stormer)
      Care
      Farrell (assuming full fitness)
      12T
      Burrell
      Tuilagi
      Yarde
      Brown

      And on the bench

      Webber
      Mullan
      Thomas
      Attwood
      Vunipola
      Youngs
      Burns
      Goode

      1. Assuming Tuilagi on the wing (not Twelvetrees :-))?

        I would prefer to see Eastmond continue at 12 – there has been lots of talk about the players missing because of the admin cock-up/incompetence/oversight, but this isn’t why Twelvetrees was missing, so in terms of consistency of selection, I would guess that Eastmond has done enough for another go.

        As I noted before, I am not convinced that Lancaster sees Burrell as an England 12, so I think that a Burrell/Tuilagi midfield is unlikely.

      2. I heard Goode was carrying a knock and might not be available. Here’s hoping Eastmond gets in ahead of Barritt!

        1. Is no-one thinking of Foden for the 23 shirt? Finished the season in strong form and can cover the whole back three?

          Eastmond could be awesome for the 23 shirt, but only if SL believes he can play anywhere from 12 to 15. If he doesn’t, and sees him at just a 12, then he is not a great option there at all.

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