RBS 6 Nations 2011: England Player Ratings versus Italy

15. Ben Foden – 7
Looking more and more assured as England’s last line of defence. Always looks threatening with ball in hand and is a real asset to the backline.

14. Chris Ashton – 9
It might depend on your stance on swallowgate, but I think it’s great to see someone playing with so much pride and enjoyment in an England jersey. Score four tries and you won’t get less than a 9 in these ratings.

13. Mike Tindall – 7
A reasonable game from Tindall, and even he looked threatening in the face of a weak Italian defence. Certainly not the worst centre in England’s backline.

12. Shontayne Hape – 5
Surely it’s time to look for a better option at 12? Even when everyone else in the England backline was running amok, he still managed to look like a blunt weapon in attack.

11. Mark Cueto – 7
At last! Cueto was on the scoresheet for the first time in ages, putting the icing on another strong performance. He’s been playing well for some time, and maybe now the floodgates will open.

10. Toby Flood – 9
What a pleasure it is to watch Flood in action these days. Plays right on the gainline and seems to have found a knack for making line-break after line-break. Can he do it against the French?

9. Ben Youngs – 8
Classic sharp, sniping performance from England’s standout scrum-half and should take a lot of credit for the pace at which England seem to be playing. Looking forward to his showdown with Morgan Parra.

1. Alex Corbisiero – 8
A second impressive debut in as many weeks. Corbisiero held his own in the scrum against a wise old Italian front row, and immediately looked at home at international level.

2. Dylan Hartley – 7
Another fine performance in the lineout which had been a concern prior to the tournament. He also seems to be easing any worries over his temperament as well.

3. Dan Cole – 8
Outshone his club colleague in Martin Castrogiovanni, with a solid scrummaging performance and a more prominent contribution in the loose than we’ve seen.

4. Louis Deacon – 6
I can’t get too carried away with any of Deacon’s performances, and this was fairly unremarkable. England’s lineout was good, but he’s only keeping the jersey warm until Courtney Lawes returns.

5. Tom Palmer – 8
The gradual revelation of Palmer as a top class lock continued this weekend. A wonderful defender getting through countless tackles, in addition to doing the hard yards required of a second row.

6. Tom Wood – 8
People have started whispering comparisons to Richard Hill. Don’t say it too loudly just yet, but he does have a tendency to be everywhere. Offers a strong lineout option, and will make life difficult for Moody and Croft when they are fully fit.

7. James Haskell – 8
Seems to compensates for fairly minimal rugby nous by being a fine professional rugby specimen. Used his power and explosiveness well for a couple of good runs and a well-taken try.

8. Nick Easter – 7
This sort of loose game doesn’t necessarily suit Nick Easter, but I’ve always wanted to see him looking for the offload in contact, because he does have great hands. Can he do it against the top sides?

36 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2011: England Player Ratings versus Italy

  1. A 7 for Easter is way too generous. Apart from his offload to Tindall, his performance was very average at best. Thought Haskell was superb (not something we say on here very often) and if he hadn’t made that stupid attempt at kicking might even have been in contention for MOTM. If Moody is fit for France, i’d actually try moving Haskell to 8, and drop Easter to the bench as so far Haskell has had a much better start to the tournament then Easter

  2. I think Easter was good enough for a 7, but starting to agree that Haskell might be better at 8 when (if?) Moody returns.

    I’d be tempted to keep it the same for France though, even if Moody is fit. He’d be a handy bench option, and Wood, Haskell and Easter are all playing too well to be dropped. Moody will struggle to get his place back, particularly when Croft returns as well.

  3. Im not his number 1 fan but a 5 out of 10 for Shontayne Hape is a little harsh i feel, especially if you are giving Tindall a 7. Thourght he was solid in defence and set up Ashtons 2nd with a nice use of power and hands. Whether or not everyone agrees with Hape at 12 i dont see it changing anytime soon.

    Just also want to mention how well the Flood Wilkinson combination is working, having a great, and now, line breaking 10 in flood and a defensive 10 as good as wilko (see 78th minute for a prime example) is invaluable. Not to mention both world class kickers could serve us brilliantly next week and in the world cup!

    Cant wait for France at Twickenham now!

  4. Personally, i don’t think Moody will have a problem get his place back, at least not before the world cup. He’s no longer the best 7 we have on offer, but it’s his leadership that he brings which makes him so valuable. I’d much rather see Wood, Moody and Haskell for France, with Easter on the bench as i think the France game is going to be our hardest (and possibly the decider as to who wins the title/grand slam) and i think we’re gonna need Moody’s leadership to help us get through

  5. Correct me if i’m wrong, but didn’t Hape put in some really good performances in the AI’s? Now though, he looks like he can’t be arsed as his place is guaranteed. Shame as i actually thought we’d found a suitable 12. If Johnno wants a battering ram (with an offloading game) for 12, why doesn’t he try Brad Barritt! Or move Tindall back to 12 and bring someone else in to 13?

  6. I have to agree that my current prefered back row would be Wood, Haskell, Moody. We have seen this before though where haskell has a great few games then lets it go to his head and reverts to being pants. If he can maintain this vein of form and keep his feet on the ground then I think he has to be the future. Lets see how he does against the french.

    I am very worried about the french game, as beatable as they are, I think they are more battle hardened now after Scot and Ire and they haven’t actually played that well so if they click against us it could be a very tough afternoon. Still I think it will be the game of the tournament.

  7. Agree Haskell in past, when playing well, seems to then lose his head, which is why we’d need a decent bench replacement and although i’m not a fan of Easter, he would serve as a good bench option to come on a steady the boat if Haskell was to have a mere! His time in France has defintiely improved his game (and his attitude) – though i’d rather see someone like Dowson on the bench. When everyone is fit and available, i’d quite like to see Croft, Wood and Haskell given a go and see how they do as they could very well be the future

  8. On an entirely unrelated topic

    Anyone else confused about how they work out the world rankings?

    Last week Eng were 4th with 83.24 points and France were 5th with 82.32. England beat Italy by nearly 50 points and their score stays the same. France beat Ireland by 3 points and their score jumps by a massive 1.3 to put them in 4th! makes no sense??

  9. You do have to be a bit of a mathematical mastermind to work it out. Fortunately, I am just that ;)

    The number of ranking points you win or lose depends on the team you are playing against and how many points they have, so beating low-ranked Italy gets England fewer points than France beating higher-ranked Ireland.

    I think it does take into account the winning margin somehow as well. If France are above England now, victory at Twickers should see England jump up again.

  10. Good banter about the world rankings……..

    Seemed a bit like a training run.

    Thrashing italy shows only how Poor ireland were and how much improved they were against the french.

    winning these games means MJ cant change his team.

    My only concern from the game was Cueto continually kicking from from our 22.
    if he does that against the Frogs, we will get humped!

    We will see how good our scrum/back row/centres are v france in 2 weeks!

  11. ps – hutch – can you do guys do an interview with ashton.dont ask him about Swan dives etc, just get some banter out of him.

    some of his lines are classic. for example, on Cueto:

    “‘his big head makes him fall over all the time’
    ‘he’s getting on a bit so he’s gotta take his tries when he can’
    and [referring to his Try Of The Year] ‘I was looking for Cueto to pass it but as usual he was nowhere near!’

  12. He does have good banter…he’s usually the most popular player as a result, but we’ll see what we can do. Not much happening this week with England, but the build up to the France game should be good next week.

    Did anyone see Sinbad’s injury yesterday…looks like it could be a broken ankle? We’ll try to get an update, but he is the unluckiest man alive.

  13. Poor sinbad!they think its not broken, but x rays will be out today and well find out.

    Same match – Narrway captained brilliantly for the win…..

  14. Haskell doesn’t bring enough control to play 8 in my book. You need a few yeomen so the showponies can do their stuff. Will have to see more from Haskell to show he’s mature enough for that responsibility and that chip kick showed he isn’t. And to be fair he may have made some breaks but if you watch it’s more because the Italians decided they didn’t fancy tackling him than any sort of decent line from him.

    Great problem to have at the moment though. Think Haskell off the bench would be high impact after Easter has set the foundation.

    Tommy, re Hape, basically Stuart Barnes unfathomably decided Hape was MOTM against Samoa because he was having one of his puerile little spats about a player with Stephen Jones in the Sunday Times and used his position at Sky to make his point as usual. And therefore lots of people now think Hape was excellent throughout the autumn. He wasn’t. He was average. And yes he set up Ashton’s second but once again it was due to very poor defence.

    Having said all that, really enjoyed Saturday’s game, so encouraging to see the ambition and, for all that theItalian defence completely disappeared in the second half, some ruthlessness. Really chuffed for Cueto who has been playing out of his skin for England all season. Yes he’s short of top end gas but such an intelligent player and really balances the back three. Would be nice to see a little more of Foden going forward but Ashton is running the support lines a full back often would and if he has the odd quiet game, as long as he’s solid can’t really have any complaints.

  15. Thought i’d post this here to in case people miss it in the ‘initial reaction’ thread.

    Some thoughts on the midfield.

    While they’re never going to set the world alight, maybe they don’t need to. Maybe we save that for Foden, Ashton, Youngs and co.

    I’ve been thinking and no team in world sport has a starting line up of complete stars. It wouldn’t work. Every team needs those players that don’t razzle and dazzle, but do the basics well and allow those around them to shine.

    Would Ashton see the ball as much as he does and be able to score 4 tries if we had Ma’a Nonu in our midfield?

    However then i think back to Tindall’s pass against Wales and think…. can he even do the basics well? But he seems to be a good leader and his defense is sound.

    If someone else puts their hand up – brilliant. But i can now see how stability and solidity etc in the midfield has its benefits.

    Thoughts welcomed.

  16. Dan – perhaps….

    haskell hasnt demonstrated hes got the skills @ 8. but he is a unit and we currently lack those types of atheletes. Give him a green and gold shirt and he could be a prototype Saffa!

    Easter maybe treacle slow, but he has won me over with his restart takes, his tackling and ability to get over the gain line off slow ball.
    hes also a leader and hes beaten france in the 6N and the 2007 world cup – ie hes a leader with experience.

  17. @matt

    I agree to an extent, but you can’t help feeling that Ashton, Foden and other other ‘exciting’ players are just making up for our limitations in the centres.

    Look at the Kiwis – they’ve always got an exciting back three, and then they have Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and now SBW to light up the midfield.

    And I think Ashton would score more with Nonu in the centres – he’d be running supporting lines of all of his half-breaks and could be unstoppable!

  18. If Leicester can get 12trees and Tuilagi (Manu) playing @ 12 & 13 regularly, id take that partnership to the next WC

    Hutch – our centres partnership is a moot point: unless we lose, no questions will be asked and if we do lose and questions afre asked, they still wont change the centres before the WC, its too soon.

  19. The Brand does indeed have an amazing ability to make great breaks though tired defenses that have already given up. He is also clueless at the breakdown and anonymous until Italy were knackered. If England want a player with a bit more pace then Dowson would be a much better option.

    I am hoping that post RWC we start looking at a back row made from the following – Crane, Narraway, Wood, Croft, Robshaw and Dowson with possibly Guest, Stef, Saull and Rees.

  20. The idea of swapping Easter for L’Hasque seems insane to me.

    Yes he’s a big lad and when he decides he is going to turn up he can cause problems for the defence – but he does have a tendency to go missing in games and hasn’t got the nous to be an international 8. He is more Andy Powell than Zinzan Brooke.

    Easter is bright, has experience and whilst he’s never going to set the world alight, he does a great job at clearing up problems and is always going forward. He also has good hands when he gets the chance to show it

    I’d prefer to see Fourie starting and L’Hasque used off the bench (that is, if Johnson is going to continue to ignore the claims of Dowson and Robshaw)

    On the topic of Cueto, does anyone think he’d be suited to a move to outside centre? He’s fast enough, intelligent enough, can kick and his defense is good. Bit like a better Tindall

    Of course, if he did, then there’s the question of who goes on the wing, esp if JSD is injured. My heart sinks at the thought of Banahan, even if I have to admit that he added something extra against Italy

  21. Just want to add a few comments/questions to some of these previous statements guys

    “Easter is bright, has experience and whilst he’s never going to set the world alight, he does a great job at clearing up problems and is always going forward. He also has good hands when he gets the chance to show it”


    Did everyone else miss his awful pass that nearly cost us a break away try from Italy, or the fact that he actually didn’t make much of an impact for a fair part of the game? Easter is not of top quality. It was also obvious that he’s struggling to play the new “high tempo” style game that England have decided to now play, and when he did get the ball, yes he went forward, but we seemed to then have slow ball from it. Easter has experience simply because he has not had any competition for the no.8 jersey in a long time, but now we have options. Granted most of those options need converting from 6/7 to no.8, but i think others should be/deserve to be given a go.

    Aimed at Haskell: “He is also clueless at the breakdown and anonymous until Italy were knackered”

    This is simply not actually true. Haskell did some great work at the break down (same as he did against Wales) and he was actually highly present the entire game, which is more than can be said for Easter. It was always Haskell providing the support and breaking the lines, not Easter.

    I remember on this blog, not more than 6-12 months ago we were all baying for Easters blood and now we seem to think he’s amazing? Little confused that people are now praising him though he hasn’t actually done anything amazing. I’m not actually a fan of Haskell, but I’ll give credit where its due, and Haskell does deserve credit for the last 2 games, where Easter does not. If Haskell has a shocker against france, i’ll be the first to criticise.

  22. Lol. No

    Sorry, I know it sounds like a little bit of a rant, i just don’t understand why people seem to be an Easter lovers nowadays, and still hate Haskell, even though it’s Haskell that has had 2 good games, not Easter

  23. Tommy nobody is saying Easter is amazing, it’s not as black and white as that. Just that he is better suited to that position than Haskell (or ‘The Brand’ – great chat) who is not mature and controlled enough to be an international number 8. That’s not to say he won’t be, although I have my doubts. He was anonymous in the first half and then ran through some gaps which a darts player could have made it through without spillling his pint. Didn’t think he had a particularly special game other than that. And yes he ran more support lines than Easter but that’s because they were playing different roles. You’d expect your 7 to be in support more than your 8. It’s a key part of the job description.

    Maybe we can make Simpson-Daniel into an 8. He’s got as good a chance of being picked there as he has on the wing it seems

    Paolo, interesting shout re Cueto, Stuart Barnes suggested the same thing before the tournament. My problem with that would be that 13 is just about the most difficult position to defend on the pitch. If you or anyone around you gets it wrong you can be absolutely hung out to dry. I don’t think international rugby is the place to learn that. That’s my proble with Armitage there and one of my many problems with Banahan (who looked pretty sharp on Saturday but again not difficult in the last 20 mins against a team who have given up).

  24. How about we simply drop Easter and Haskell, and have Dowson play 8

    Everyone’s a winner :D

    JSD for no.8 – amazing lol

  25. Nope.London irish
    im just a fan of the Narraway/ Harinordqy type of No.8 than the Easter / mr Blobby mold.

  26. I’m Quins/Leicester – grew up in the Midlands but now live in SW London. Are you off to the Madstad on the 26th?

  27. Stuart

    point taken re Cueto, but I honestly struggle to see what options there might be at 13 once Tindall goes – especially seeing as JSD is crocked again and has probably missed his last chance for the senior squad

    Tuilagi is one for the future but not yet and I can’t see anyone else putting their hands up. George Lowe at Quins is promising but I can’t see Johnson going for him as he’s a little on the small side

    Its certainly not unusual for wings to move to centre once they lose some of their pace – Tana Umaga is a prime example – and surely Cueto is better option than either Armitage or Banahan (what a shame he doesn’t have the hands of SBW; we’d be laughing if he did)

  28. Nick – 26th Feb…..im playing rugby that day followed by huge lash watching England France in london!

    THe madstad is a cracking day out however!

  29. England v France. Can’t wait. Oh no, hang on, going to a wedding that afternoon. I mean who arranges a February wedding without consulting the Six Nations fixture list.

    Still, iphone TV, earphone up the sleeve, should be doable.

    Paolo, have to say converting someone to play at 13 is a decent plan given the lack of other options. Australia have done it with Adam Ashley-Cooper. Would be more inclined to convert someone like Armitage as Cueto is at his best roaming around the park and there’s less scope for that in the centre than on the wing. I think they’ve got their eye on Banahan there for the long term though. Sadly. Although if Tuilagi reaches his potential we may not be talking much about the 13 position for a few years.

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