RBS 6 Nations 2011: Wales Player Ratings versus Italy

Lee Bryne – 7
Looked like the pre-Lions tour player of old, running some great lines and was solid under the high ball. Just kicked in too much of an aimless fashion at times.

Morgan Stoddart – 7
Fairly limited involvement from the wing again, but two of his contributions were very important in deciding the outcome of the game. Both in terms of taking the try well, and a try saving tackle over the Welsh line.

James Hook – 7
Stick whatever number you want to on his back, Hook is integral to the Welsh back line clicking. But rarely saw the ball enough to build on his assist for Wales’s opening try.

Jamie Roberts – 6
A force to be reckoned with in terms of getting over the gain line, however only two passes over the course of eighty minutes is very telling.

Shane Williams – 6
Tried as ever to get involved in the game, looking dangerous with the few touches he did have, but could not mark his 34th birthday with a try.

Stephen Jones – 6
Near immaculate place kicking from the under-pressure ten, but far too much aimless kicking out of hand.

Mike Phillips – 5
A backwards step from two weeks ago. Although his service may have improved, the Ospreys’ nine slipped back into the habit of playing heads down rugby, typified by a mindless attempt to clear the ball, that eventually led to the second Italian try.

Paul James – 5
A distant second best to Castrogiovanni, and lucky not to be sent to the sin-bin.

Matthew Rees – 7
A captain’s performance from the hooker, leading from the front with his ball carrying.

Craig Mitchell – 5
For Mitchell read James, but with Perugini being the one to get the better of him.

Bradley Davies – 5
An off day for the lock who struggled to get any ball carries at all. It was a mystery why Gatland did not opt to replace him.

Alun Wyn Jones – 6
Greater involvement than Davies, but did not fare well against an aggressive Italian defence, although his own tackle count was very impressive.

Dan Lydiate – 6
Tackled his socks off, but Wales needed a much bigger ball carrying impact from the blindside.

Sam Warbuton – 7
A more attack-oriented display this week from the 22-year-old, scoring his first try with an excellent piece of support play. However on the negative, Wales needed a much more destructive showing from the Cardiff Blues player at the breakdown.

Ryan Jones – 6
A workmanlike effort from Jones, but was lacking in pace and power. Andy Powell’s dynamism will surely see Jones benched for the Ireland game.

By Paul French

4 thoughts on “RBS 6 Nations 2011: Wales Player Ratings versus Italy

  1. Harsh ratings on Paul James. Castrogiovanni was binding illegally on the arm for almost the entire match and every time Wayne Barnes came to have a look the Italian scrum wobbled. Notably near the Welsh line where they were driven off the ball and Wales gained a vital, pressure reliving penalty for me, he gets a 7. Hook is very pretty but runs sideways far too often and doesn’t go looking for the ball when it doesn’t naturally come to him, for me he was poor – 5. Shane deserves a 7 with ease. He altered his positioning to stay wide on the touchline and this allowed him more room when he came into midfield. He was instrumental in creating Warburtons try, should have put Byrne away for one and created overlaps on more than one occasion. Lastly, Ryan Jones. If you need a number 8 who can take the ball standing still or going backwards in a game that descends into an arm-wrestle, there is no better 8 in the NH. He was excellent on Saturday and definitely isn’t receiving the credit he deserves.

  2. Perhaps I have been a bit harsh on those three players. I didn’t spot the illegal binding, but Barnes isn’t a referee I rate very highly – so I wouldn’t be surprised. I felt that James, like Jones came off second best in the contact area to the Italians. Jones may have tackled himself into the ground, but most of those tackles were made on the back foot.

    IMHO Shane was possibly just a shade off a seven for me, he really needed to beat a few more defenders to justify it. As for Hook, I think he has always been a bit of a sideways type of player, it would have been a big ask for him to have had any more influence on the game, outside of an overly conservative 10 and 12 combination.

  3. All the press are full of the No. 10 debate, in my mind it is the No. 9 that is the one that should be questioned.

    Phillips is way below par and his aimless kicking has led to at least two opposition tries this campaign. His physical attributes are unquestioned but apart from on dazzling break worthy of a second row what did he do?

    When the forwards are struggling we need pace on any ball they do win, this was just not there on Saturday. We should have run the Italians ragged on with a quick tempo releasing the backs but Phillips goes native and heads down too often for me – Tavis may not have the experience but he is of the Peel mould and we need a back-row No. 9 not an adoptive 2nd rower.

  4. I can not get over the amount of criticism that Mike gets when this time he did exactly what was asked of him. The problem is in the tactics, not in the player.

    1) His kicking – is obviously meant to be long and chased as a defensive line, not to complete for it. I’d prefer it if it wasn’t but he has been doing this for some time and there is no way it is not a tactic. The problem is the defensive chase has been consistently poor (why?)

    2) Yesterday was a slight variation in tactics, alternating quick and slow ball. ‘head down’ was in fact simply playing by numbers – something Wales have done for a long time. Gats wants his forwards hitting holes and taking it blind in an effort to drag in backs/backrowers and create miss-matches. It is an old tactic that hasnt worked for Wales very much, but again it is a tactic.

    Mike is not at his best – but I think a lot of the criticisms aimed at him are misplaced. He looks bad because he is playing to a set way from Howley and Gatland, using tactics that need changing, drastically.

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