Player Ratings: England v South Africa

Foden – 7

One wild pass out of the tackle put England under big pressure in the first half. Purposeful in attack and solid under the high ball.

Ashton – 6

Uncertainty as to whether he should have stayed on the pitch after an early knock. Worked hard, but couldn’t find the space to threaten as he has over the last couple of works.

Tindall – 6

His defence was excellent, but questions over whether he has enough to give in attack.

Hape – 7

Impressive, will have learned massively from this Autumn series. Far from the finished article though.

Cueto – 7

England’s best back, iconic shot of his blood-stained shirt at full time. Still no tries though.

Flood – 6

Went off too early for a real judgement but has had a great Autumn.

Youngs – 5

Bullied and hassled by the Springbok monster pack, will not have enjoyed playing all day on the back foot. A learning curve.

Sheridan – 8

Tough day at the scrum but his loose work was again excellent. In fine form.

Hartley – 5

Lineout simply wasn’t good enough, failure to secure own possession cost England field position time and again.

Cole – 5

Looked pretty sore afterwards as the scrum creaked, the Beast claiming another scalp.

Lawes – 8

Ran himself into the ground. Led by example and physically was more than up to the challenge. Such an exciting prospect.

Palmer – 6

Hands were too slow when England had a chance late on, and struggled up against Matfield. Has had an impressive Autumn though.

Croft – 7

Another casualty, but his early run down the left touch line was wonderful to watch. Lineout crumbled without his presence.

Moody – 6

In the thick of it as ever, some big collisions and put good pressure on Steyn when kicking. Not exceptional though.

Easter – 7

Along with Lawes, relished the physical encounter coming up against Spies. Got over the gain line plenty of times. Hard work.


Charlie Hodgson acquitted himself well but lacks the conviction of Flood at 10, whilst Hendre Fourie continued to impress after coming on for Croft. Steve Thompson and David Wilson gave some fresh impetus to the pack with their arrival late on.

by Ben Coles

19 thoughts on “Player Ratings: England v South Africa

  1. Think you’ve been overly generous by a point or two across the board. We came out second best across the field, even against a SA team that was very limited in scope and was content to focus on set-piece, breakdown muscle, and the traditional positional kicking game.

    Tindall was truly dire and a player of his experience should be ashamed by his willingness to chuck dodgy hospital passes back when nothing’s on. You’d get thrashed at local club level for that, and at international level it’s unforgivable. Also thought Cueto reaffirmed the inkling that had been brewing for ages (and simply glossed over by the Oz game) that he’s just not quick or explosive enough. I know Steyn had a good angle on him, but he was chased down in seconds when he should have gotten clean away down the touchline.

    Hartley also needs to learn how to throw and not give penalties away. The passage where we was throwing it all over the place like a pilled-up clubber and then running into the sides of rucks was shocking.

  2. Have to agree. For once I think your ratings are too high. Handling errors alone across the board were far below average and should drop everyone (except Lawes) down a rating. Discipline was also very poor, as was physicality. All in all, very reminiscint of the England we have unfortunately been enduring for the last few years

  3. Maybe a touch generous in places. Our midfield was pretty dire with no cutting edge whatsoever, and didn’t think Hape was as good as you suggest.

    Lawes had a good game, but he does have a tendency to be upright when he takes contact. He still makes a yard, but a lower body position and he’d be even more effective.

    A 6 for Palmer is also a little generous, he was worse than average I thought…

  4. Lawes was good but was not perfect in handling the ball. Past one ball too early and not on the spot but yes he is our number 4 for the comming 10 years I hope. Where the hell can we find a better hooker than Hartley. Well his work in the scrum/loose is not bad but the Line-outs and his penalty record will cost us in New Zealand I am afraid. Cueto would have definately scored if Palmer was a bit faster though.

    Nevertheless a good set of games. Lots of improvement still to go but with this team I am happy where we are and that the likes of Borthwick/Deacon and Goode are not considered anymore. Looking forward to the 6N.


  5. Kemlo, of Strettle/Monye/Ojo I think only Ugo could really be considered. And when will people get over JSD?! He doesn’t have the size for international rugby! Imagine Sonny Bill running at him… horrible.

    Ratings on reflection are a bit generous, was obviously in a positive mind when writing them, but the Comedy of Errors video soon but that to rest. It’s too easy to rip England apart after this loss. There has been a lot of good progress made, but the SA game will have made Johnno think, “how can we get more physical?” What I’d give for England to have a Ma’a Nonu or Jean De Villiers at 12, but unfortunately the closest we have to that is Hape, and he’s been doing a pretty good job this Autumn.

  6. I predicted a loss and heres the reason why i thought wed lose.

    When the Lions toured SA in ’09, the message was that the Saffers would be in your face, dirty and come @ you hard and fast with niggle

    Unless you are really up for it youll get blown off the pitch and the Lions found that in the first Test but sorted their personnel and attidutes for the second test.

    England on sat were simply rocked by the saffers. Did anyone see the way that Flood was targeted off the ball by spies ? if you can be bothered watch the game back and youll see various occasions of flood getting some action off spies.Flood wasn’t the same after, notwithstanding is blow to the head.

    SA did this all over the pitch,early on. a push here off the ball, a word there (sheridan) to put you off your game. It worked.

    if the saffers aggression was the route cause of the “comedty of errors” , then our lightweight 2nd row (palmer, i prefer Attwood/shaw) and lightweight back row (yes you moody!) compounded the problem.

    concussed Ashton should have been removed immediately.

    The good thing is that the next time our relatively young team play the Saffers, they will hopefully be ready!

    rant over

  7. I don’t we should be too down, as Woodward says ‘Winning doesn’t happen in a straight line’ but there are a few positions that I have a question mark over.

    5 – Palmer has shown himself to be a magnificent athlete but came off second best in terms of physciality. Whilst I would still have him in contention for selection, especially against less physical teams, I think Dave Attword deserves a run as he has the potential to be an ‘enforcer’ in the Johnno/Botha mode.

    7 – I’m sorry but whilst Moody is a much better player and captain than Borthers I thought he came off second best against both the All Blacks and SA. Hendre Fourie performed strongly when he came on and deserves to start.

    11 – Mark Cueto had a fine game against Australia but the fact that with a decent amount of space in front of him, Francois Steyn tracked and tackled him fairly easily indicates his days as a world class finisher are sadly behind him. I perenially champion Simpson-Daniel but I’d also rather give the likes of Strettle/Monye/Ojo another run.

    12/13 – Hape has done OK but I’m still struggling to see him as a world beater. I’m also running out of patience with Tindall’s passing skills and whilst it is a bit of an obscure point, his missed conversion was unforgiveable and highlights his basic lack of footballing ability. We desperately need a fit and firing Flutey. 13 will remain a problem I fear.

    However, given where we were this time 12 months ago, a huge improvement in both performance and attitude. The loss to SA will probably stop us getting too far ahead of ourselves in the long run, even if it did hurt.

  8. It’s been interestign to see the media suddently doing a massive about face and starting screaming for the need for bigger players. I’m fairly certain the last 5 years has involved a large amount of “no more gym monkies!” chat. Yet look at this crap.

    The problem is that a team like the Kiwis are big AND quick AND skillful which means you either get blown off the ball or run around (see scary combination of SBW’s size and pace). The fact is England looked fragile against the Boks because there was a look of pace and dynamism. We barely hit rucks and suddenly started shuffling the ball down the line and taking the ball whilst standing still. The few times we hit at pace from deep on attack or got aggressive around the contact areas, we looked decent.

  9. I agree with previous statement about the generosity of the ratings, but i still believe that we should look on these test games with some optimism, so much progress with in the space of 12 months. not sure whether or not Tindall will make it to the world cup, otherwise think the team is looking in good shape.

    i disagree with kemlo as respects to cueto, he has been very good during these internationals, a complete change in form. a year ago he would kick the ball, now he runs it, and does well.

    if the aussies can come back from the England game, where they were outperformed, to destroy France, England can do the same, but better.
    Cant wait till Six Nations.

  10. Agree. Presumably Tindall is Johnson’s preferred option for the 13 jersey at next year’s world cup? Cos if he isn’t, what is the point in playing him now?

    Hape is OK. Does his job well. But as mentioned before, he’s no world beater. Do you think he can get any better than we’ve seen him this autumn? I’m not sure….

    Flutey/Banahan is a combo that might work… but what’s everyone’s view on Armitage at 13? He’s played there a bit…. is it not worth a crack?

    Lawes and Shaw i think should be next year’s starting locks.

    Croft is brilliant.
    Moody – good leader. Absolute warrior. The country’s best openside….. i’m not sure?

    Still think Sir Johnny deserves another shot. Apart from Australia… Flood hasn’t looked THAT good. He’s looked competent sure…. but not world class imo.

    Centres – we’ve covered.

    Back 3 look good. I like strettle so would bring him back on bench.

    That’s me.

  11. I would think Johnno will stick with Tindall, possibly for want of better options. Armitage is not a 13, and 9 months from the Rugby World Cup, I’d imagine they’ll stick with the big, safe option.

    As for Hape, I’d like to see Flutey back for the Six Nations…Hape has been OK as you say, but hasn’t necessarily done enough to own the shirt.

    I agree with you on everything else. If Croft is injured for a while, I’d consider switching Moody to 6 and bringing in Fourie with Dowson on the bench (although I haven’t actually thought this through!).

  12. We’ve finally got a settled team so shouoldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The main area which needs addressing is the midfield. Still unconvinced by Hape and Tindall looks like a man slowing down (if that’s possible). There are no glaring alternatives though. I will be watching the Heineken Cup matches in the coming week (assuming they’re on) particularly to see if Dan Hipkiss can rediscover his spark – the shirt is there for him if he wants it. He has more to his game that Banahan. And Flutey would be an undoubted improvement to Hape.

    Re Cueto, I think he’s ended this series massively in credit. Ashton has taken all the plaudits but Cueto has doen just as much save for actually scoring (which you could argue is what he’s there for). He has not got outrageous top end pace but neither did Joe Roff or Rory Underwood. I was pretty impressed with him and don’t think any of the alternatives would do any better. Strettle is a superb broken field runner but his D is not great, Monye has barely has a good game since the Lions tour.

    If Armitage is to be considered at 13, which I don’t think is necessarily the worst option, he needs to play there a bit for his club. It is not an easy position to just walk in to. And with Mapusua, Seveali’i and Bowden, he may struggle to get a look in there.

    No sweeping changes needed though. We have the spine of a good team. After Hodgson’s effort, we can also claim to have 3 test class 10s and not many countries can claim that.

  13. And i thought England had a big team in size that is. I wonder what is going to happen when the resting Bok players come back. Some of these young guys in the Bok team did a great job. And Bismarck is back what are they going to do with John Smith. Well we will have to wait and see what happens nest. The England team will build momentum like they always do come a World Cup year. They always feature in the WC and the England supporters should be proud. SA when we are on our game we rock, when not we suck in the worst way. Its comes with the game. Give the guys a break.

  14. I don’t necessarily think that the shirt is there for Hipkiss. He’s had a few chances for England without ever really taking them, and he’s not that dissimilar to Tindall. I’ve a feeling Johnno will persevere with the Banahan experiment, given what everyone was saying about him covering both centre and wing.

    Tindall’s form has been very up and down this season. He was dropped by Gloucester early on, and then had a stormer against Bath when picked again, so I think we’ll just have to hope he’s firing again in the Six Nations. Can’t see Johnno dropping him before the World Cup.

    Saffa – sounds like PDV has a dilemma or two, and it could depend on S15 and 3N form next year. Whatever happens, at least you can depend on the coach to make the right decisions!

  15. Agree with Stuart on the whole re the England midfield. I think England may have found someone in Hape (and definitely worth perusing), but they seem to be the only team in world rugby that consider centre to be a position merely to ‘fill’. Not since Guscott have they had a truely creative and attacking centre.

    The solution – I don’t know. Perhaps depressingly when fit again the kiwi’s at the heart of the backline.

    Although that sounds like a bit of rant, got to say that I’m at least happy to see England competitive again. Whether or not they have time to progress within 12 months and overtake the All Blacks……I somehow doubt.

  16. Yes, it’s certainly much more encouraging than this time last year! Plenty of room for improvement, but the core of the team looks right, and there are only one or two problem positions.

    And in 12 months, England don’t have to overtake the All Blacks…they only need to be beaten once in the World Cup!

  17. Think Hutch makes a good point re Lawes’s body position in contact. That aside (and I’m sure it’s something he can fix pretty quickly), he’s absolutely fantastic (though I would like to see a big, lumpy enforcer picked alongside him)

  18. Dilema as to the Centre position. i agree with ady as to the importance of centres, this might sound odd but perhaps we should have Shane Geraghty at 12 and Hape at 13. Geraghty has flare and adds another kicker to the england team, and can cover the 10 shirt should anything happen to Flood. Anyone know how long Flutey is out for???

  19. You guys should be talking about your print and web media, all the hype all week before the test and then a walk over, to say the least.
    The Boks defense was unbreakable they dominated at Line out time and at the scrum. The Boks only weakness was the ability of there backs, they should have put England away with the amount of quality ball they where getting, lucky for England that there attacking games is far from its best with a lot of there starting players at home. If half the Boks chances had come off the final score could have easily been 31-6.
    Its no good running your mouths off about the Boks did the old physical and bulled us off the ball and kicked well. How do you think England made two back to back RWC finals????
    Stop bluffing yourselves you don’t need a Manager you need a Coach.
    You manage the best players in the world and England just doesn’t have them.

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