RBS Six Nations 2012: England Player Ratings v Wales

15. Ben Foden – 6

Confidence restored, but failed to beat many Welsh defenders. Tighter kicking game and comfortable under the high ball.

14. Chris Ashton – 4

Concerning. Wrong option looking to cut infield rather than take on the defence on the outside. Short on confidence and struggling.

13. Manu Tuilagi – 7

Welcomed back. Defensively solid, brilliantly physical, nearly scored. Has been missed.

12. Brad Barritt – 7

Essential. Calls to drop him in mid-week were madness. The defensive lynchpin.

11. David Strettle – 7

Relished being back at Twickenham. Important tap tackle in the second minute, unlucky not to score at the death.

10. Owen Farrell – 8

Very exciting. No problems moving to 10, threw out some great passes and kicked well, missing one shot at goal. Long-term man.

9. Lee Dickson – 6

A bit slow at times with the passes, but nevertheless effective and raised the tempo.

1. Alex Corbisiero – 6

Mixed. Very strong in the loose but suffered at the scrum against Adam Jones.

2. Dylan Hartley – 6

Nothing too flash, working in the dark arts. Needs competition.

3. Dan Cole – 6

Scrummaged better, but gave away two penalties which Priestland converted. Careless.

4. Mouritz Botha – 8

Impressive. Fills the enforcer role brilliantly, worked well with Geoff Parling.

5. Geoff Parling – 7

Very good first start. Ran the lineout well, pressuring Ken Owens.

6. Tom Croft – 7

Much better. Crucial steals in the lineout and got his hands on the ball more in the loose as he’d needed to.

7. Chris Robshaw – 6

Overshadowed by Sam Warburton, but England’s leader never stops working, and the praise from his team mates regarding his leadership says it all.

8. Ben Morgan – 7

How England have needed his thrust and power. Worked hard at the breakdown along with making big runs.


A low point. Lawes error led to the Williams’ try, whilst England lost a little speed with Youngs on the field.

by Ben Coles

39 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: England Player Ratings v Wales

  1. I’d be tempted to give Tuilagi an eight and I’d probably be more critical of Youngs. It wasn’t just that the distribution was slowed down, he was playing on a totally different wavelength to the rest of the side. Another scrum half would have assessed the situation and responded in kind, but Youngs didn’t seem to realise the need for providing simple quick ball and instead went about trying to find holes and support runners that weren’t there. I’m not able to check it back, but rather than blame Lawes for being turned over by Scott Williams – I’d be more inclined to blame Youngs for missing out a whole chunk of forwards and giving it to the rather more isolated pair of Robshaw and Lawes. Totally daft.

    1. In his 20 short minutes Youngs also took the blindside option and threw a surprise pass at Lawes’ feet (resulting in an offside penalty against Webber), gave away a penalty at the scrum on his own 22, and arguably should have been in position to stop Scott Williams after his neat rip on Courtney Lawes. Pretty good going!

      Lawes himself I thought did well with some hard chasing and quality tackles, the rip was more down to Williams’ skill than Lawes’ error.

      Hartley was pretty miserable for my money, missed a handful of short tackles and didn’t seem to do much – maybe I missed his dark arts.

      I’d say Barrit and Tuilagi both deserved 8s

  2. Much more positive from England. As the maxim goes “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough”. Lack of experience is a well-mooted excuse, but look how good Fofana appears to be after 2 caps….

    Ashton should be out of the 22 for Paris. Just not good enough and the major difference in the two sides was the dangerous potential of both Welsh wingers, whereas England were a blunt force on one side.

    Really pleased with Botha and Parling and I think Cole maybe deserved a 7 as he was much more visible and effective in the loose of late (couple of penalties aside).

    Sharples for Ashton would be my only change for Paris.

    I think what England did do is put the almost beatifying praise of this Welsh team into perspective. Yes they are good, but they are most definitely beatable, and only the most fervent Welsh “anti-Englishman” would say that a draw was not a fair result for both sides in what was a cracking game and a cracking demonstration of “our” sport.

  3. Considering Jones got away with binding on the arm I think Corbs did very well at scrum time. I thought Morgan flagged during the second half, maybe a fitness issue. Oh and can we award negative ratings for Matt Stevens. Why is he anywhere near this squad. Gave away 2 penalties as soon as he came on including the equalising score – needless.

  4. Ashton and Foden have definitely lost their edge. I would start with Brown, and Sharples for the next game, and have Foden on the bench.

    Also I would not have Youngs or Stevens anywhere near the bench. Marler should have the bench spot for the front row, and maybe Simpson, Lee Dickson or even Spencer for the scrum half position.

    Still not sure about Flood. I think even if Strettle’s try had been given, only a madman would have put money on Flood converting. If Hodgson is fit, he should have the bench spot.

    I think an draw would have been a much fairer position. And I also think Farrell should have had man of the match. England win their first two games away, but the man of the match goes to the opposition. So then we lose at home, and they give it to the opposition again. Makes no sense.

    1. To be fair, I thought Warburton had an outstanding game. I said with 20 minutes to go that if Wales won, Warburton would get MoM, but if England won Farrell would get MoM. Don’t remember giving any views on what would have happened if it had been a draw!

    2. I agree with you on Ashton & Foden, certainly out of their depth at present.
      Youngs has I am afraid, completely lost the plot, too many of his passes were carried to the receiver rather than passed.
      However in his defence regarding quick ball, I believethat this is hampered by the distance Flood stands away from him causing him to have to plant his foot to get the distance.
      Robshaw is a good player but seemed to provide leadership when wanted. He is not a top flight No7, honest and tough but not an open side at the highest level. All this said though I would give my right arm for a neutral referee. Warbuton must have been a breech birth baby because he entered every aspect of broken play from the side and got away with and as for Andy Irvine comparing him to that other great cheat would seem to sit well.
      Hey Ho!

  5. I am slightly biased, but has anyone noticed that in all the England player ratings so far, the Saracens players (apart from Stevens (useless)) have all got the highest scores.

  6. Better outing for England defo and I am not going to nit pick about refs etc.

    We did enough win this and Stretts try could have.so lets not be down harted.

    Sunday 11th becomes THE big game for England. If we beat france, then the pressure is back onto wales and i dont think they can beat this French team.

    1. Not sure about that Jimmy, Scots made them look very average yesterday.

      Also think people are forgetting about Ireland! They were unlucky not to beat Wales and based on the weekend could easily beat France next weekend. Think this is Wales’s Slam to loose now!

      1. Frogs played badly but still had enough to put the scots away.

        the frogs will do ireland, who do not have the tight 5 to compete.

    2. “Stretts” wouldn’t have won it – if he’d scored (and he didn’t) then Flood would have had to get the conversion. If he’d scored the toughest possible conversion (far out on the wrong side for a right footer, pressure kick, after bottling his drop last week) then it would have been a draw. So Strettle was in no position to win the match, only provide England with a shot at drawing it.

      Fantastic match though. Those of us Welsh old enough to have experienced the 90s matches first hand knew England were not going to be a pushover. I have to disagree with the general consensus that a draw would have been fair as I do genuinely think we had the edge and the scoreboard reflects that, but it was extremely close. We went away from home and won the Triple Crown in Twickenham for the first time ever. I think that deserves some praise regardless of how hyped we were before the match.

  7. Thought Morgan was disappointing and looked positively pedestrian at times. Farrell looked excellent and will be a feature for years to come but might he move to 12 to make room for Ford?

    Overall, England looked a much better side than in their previous 2 outings and I am now much more concerned about Paddy’s day at Twickers than before.

  8. Of our starting 15 Ashton is the one who looks out of place at the moment. Hope Sharples gets a run out in the next match. Would stick with the other 14, although Foden needs to up his game as does Hartley IMO. Our back row is also a conundrum. Morgan disappeared substantially after a bright start (would suggest fitness could be an issue for a big man), Croft played much better, but still not sure he is an international 6, and Robshaw seemed to be more of a 6 in that he seemed to do a large amount of work without being noticeable (the Richard Hill mold perhaps). Probably about the best we have at the moment, but not good enough yet/ever?

    As for the bench, Brown seemed OK, Flood or Hodgson (personally can’t decide – but Flood is more of the future than Hodgson), Lawes was looking good apart from the one moment which everyone will remember. Youngs and Stevens however need booting back to the Saxons and give Marler and Simpson a try. To be fair Lancaster may have been bringing Marler along for this moment. I don’t suppose that when he cosigned Care to the International wilderness that he ever thought Youngs would play so badly!

  9. Strettle 3 points better than ashton? Ashton was not great but to say he was a 4 when Strettle gets a 7 is ridiculous. We only talk so lowely of Ashton because of his previous highs. Strettle looked so ponderous on the counter attack he got turned over at least once when he decided to run it back without support. Ashton might have been a 4 but if he was strettle was a 3.

    Also i think Strettle should be blamed more for his finishing on the try at the end. He has 2 or 3 more metres to work with on the outside but instead of going for the corner cuts into the oncoming welsh defence. If he had aimed a metre or two wider it would have been a try.

    1. You are being incredibly harsh on Strettle. He was the only one chasing every restart, and was looking for the ball much more than Ashton. Maybe if Ashton was on his more familiar side it would make a difference. Problem is Ashton, Strettle and Sharples all play 14. None of them start for their clubs on the left wing. Maybe a 7 is a little high, but he was definitely better than Ashton.

      1. To be honest i think they were both about a 5. I definitley don’t think strettle was a 3 i only said that to highlight how unfair i think the difference was.i didn’t see Strettle working for the ball any harder than Ashton maybe you’re right and he did. But Strettle did get turned over at least once (completely his fault). Also having watched that try attempt several more times i blame him a bit more and am surprised hes not had more stick for it. I also think Brown should have held onto it for a pace more to try and draw Jonathon Davies.

        1. I think that you’re being too harsh on Strettle for the (nearly) try. Brown definitely released the ball too early. Strettle then had to go over one player and take the tackle of another. If he’d have gone wider, they would have knocked him into touch as the defense was running laterally at that time and had the angle on him. IMHO!!

          Maybe some of us are being a bit harsh on Ashton, and you’re probably right, it’s because we expect so much more from him. He hasn’t had a huge amount of ball in space, but it’s just that he doesn’t seem to have gone looking for it either.

        2. I see your point Nick. But I can’t see how it was his fault he got turned over. Surely if the support players had been there, he wouldn’t have got turned over. If he hadn’t released the ball, it would have resulted in a penalty, and possibly (would’ve been harsh) a yellow card.

  10. Fully agree with Ben Coles’ analysis, would only add under “Replacements” that Matt STEVENS conceded yet another penalty to make it 12-12 – someone should tell him to show greater discipline, as he has cost England a mountain of points.

  11. Quick rant first …… I’m sick and tired about hearing all the great things the Welsh have put in place whilst the richest RFU does not seem to be investing in the same scientific approaches. The cryotherapy clearly works, as demomstrated by Mo Farah. The richest RFU should be funding them, or access to them, for all premiership rugby clubs. There are loads of other things as well the Welsh are pioneering making the athletes more efficient. England’s response is to have some rolling around on mats. A mission statement needs to go out “Never again will England face fitter opposition on the Rugby field” we then invest in whatever is needed to make it happen (cutting a quarter of a million quid from the wage bill on Rob Andrew’s reported salary if funds are needed)

    Rant over. On problems and changes for next game.

    Youngs needs some time out of the limelight to rebuild his confidence, when he’s got a good run of games under his belt for Tigers then bring him back. I think I would go for Simpson’s pace as an x-factor for the bench (Care must be watching on livid with himself)

    I thought Ben Morgan had a good game but I don’t think he is an 80 minute athlete yet. I would like to see him empty the tank in the first 50 to 60 and then bring on Thomas the Tank for the last 30 – 20

    Stevens time is up for now, OK he may not have been transgressing for the penalty as I thought he was supporting his own weight, but he didn’t listen. He could have been pinged at the scrum for putting his hand on the deck before attempting a bind as well. I don’t think I would want to risk Marler against the French scrum, a young prop getting his head stuffed up his own a*** could set him back a long way. I think I would go for Doran-Jones as the reserve and give Marler a go againt Ireland who I think are less destructive in the scrum.

    Ashton looks like he is out of love with the game, I think I would bench him and see if the sight of someone else in ‘his shirt’ plus the ability to watch the game to pick the lines he needs to be running when he comes on helps. I can’t decide if I would start Sharples or May instead. I hope SL finds a way of getting the best out of him again though. Seeing your best finisher on his, I assume, less favoured wing looking disengaged makes me question if the current interim setup has the man management experience to be getting the best out of him though.

    1. Doran Jones is a great shout i think he’s ousted Mujati at northampton. But can he play both side? i think this is what works in Stevens favour he can do a job in emergancies on both sides.

      1. My understanding is he does cover both sides, but I can’t recall ever watching him on the loosehead. Corbs did well against Mas in last years 6N, if he can do the same again there may not be the need to sub him. French tighthead prop cupboard is not as full as in years gone by. This would leave a planned sub for Cole with a bit more mobility.and no weakening of scrum based on it being Saints biggest weapon at the moment.

        Stevens is currently adept at scrummaging illegaly/badly on either side so his versatility is counting for nothing. I hope he can sort it out, lot of admiration for those who get themselves back on track after coming off the rails.

  12. Agree with a lot of Matt says. Ashtons thoughts are elsewhere drop him to the bench and play Sharples. For the France game i would move Robshaw to 6 and play Clarke at 7 Crofts lineout prowess will mean nothing in Paris we will win nothing at the back of the line anyway. Other than the same pack and backs. Not expecting a win but a good performance and i think we will beat Ireland on Paddys day

  13. I forgot to add … I want to single out Mouritz Botha ….. over the course of the last three games can you recall the last time you saw an England player put his body on the line to that extent? He has thrown himself into every carry, ruck and tackle with a level of commitment that must inspire the rest of the team. Makes a mockery of all who questioned his selection on grounds of “Englishness”

    1. Amen to that Matt. His commitment level is immense. Off the line he is quick, and has a lot of charge downs to his credit, but as Hodgson pointed out, it is something they practice a lot at Sarries.

  14. Dare I throw a spanner in the works and suggest mike brown be dropped for jonny may? I reckon may would have had enough gas to finish that try off himself on saturday. He would make way more of an impact and can cover wings, centre and full-back. Just watch the highlights from the gloucester game at the weekend to see what I’m talking about.

    1. I thought about including him in my selection for the next game, but it would be harsh on Brown or Sharples, depending on where he played. But he is high on confidence at the moment, and we will only know if he can transfer that to the international stage by giving him a chance.

  15. May I firstly say what an immensely enjoyable game this was and the signs for the future in terms of England look good.

    I thought Dickson played well as scrum half and should start again against France following a few less than average performances by Ben Youngs, my heart sank when Youngs came on and I knew then Wales would sneak the game. Dickson did slow the game down though as highlighted but so did his opposite number and I felt that the ref should of been harder on this and also the line judge not noticing the Welsh props inability to bind on the shirt should of been punished.

    Had England been more clinical when they had the chances the result would of been different but I would put that down to inexperience and some blinding defence by Wales.

    Taking nothing away from Wales the main difference between the teams was that they took there opportunity when it presented itself but credit where credit is due excellent game and hopefully more clashes btween the two nations like this will come.

  16. Youngs coming on lost the game for England. He is class but needs to have some time back at Tigers who will no doubt getting him back to where he was.
    Care needs to be back he would have bossed that game till the end.

    Cracking game though and the next few weeks are shaping up to be epic.

  17. I stand by my jonny may support. I would also like to point out how well steffan armitage is playing for toulon. Anyone who saw the toulon v stade game will have seen him. He was simply immense. Was everwhere on the pitch, slowed stade ball down and made a load of turn overs. He carries like a monster to and has the pace/skills to break the first tackle and then offload. I’m tempted to say if I picked a XV based on form…

    I’d stick care, marler, sharples, simpson, lawes, croft and matt mullan on the bench.

    1. Hey James i mentioned Armitage’s form from that game in a thread the other day. Have you seen much of the rest of his season? Was it typical or a one off? All i have seen is the highlights from that game but if he is playing that way week in week out he should be a shoe in. Always thought he had great potential and got mis used by england in his handfull of caps.

  18. Ah, swap flood for care. I was wishing I could have him in the squad, but he must serve his punishment for be a breast.

  19. Was pretty average at the start of the season, but once all the internationals returned he’s just got better and better. I think we’re finally starting to see his potential and if he can hold his form, the england selectors will have to take notice. He seems to have sorted his fitness out as well, even chris robshaw would agree armitage was omnipresent on the pitch that day.

    1. Just to get it out of the way I’m Welsh but I thought it was a full on , hugely physical game that could have gone either way. For me the stand out performances for England were the 10,12,13 axis and 2nd row,particularly Botha. What England lack is balance in the back row,especially a “real” no 7 and some “edge” in the front row. It’s been a long time since Wales have overshadowed England in these areas. The England back 3 did look a bit lacklustre but they’re all talented players and if they get good ball are threatening

  20. I feel partly sorry for Ashton’s recent loss of confidence, and I feel this may have initially stemmed from the abuse he received for his infamous swallow dive.

    Chris Ashton has been subject to relentless insult and accusations of arrogance regarding his swallow dive. After watching Scott Williams’s last minute try to take the victory, it was interesting to observe the absence of any objection to Williams’s swallow dive try in the post-match media and even amongst rugby viewers. Evidently, Ashton’s dives have developed more of a reputation, having occurred more frequently over the seasons, but the unmistakable dive with which Scott Williams crossed the line can surely not escape unscathed?

    When interviewed after the 2011 Rugby World Cup regarding his infamous swallow dive, Chris Ashton stated, “Maybe I got a little bit lost in not seeing it from other people’s point of view: how it would look if you weren’t actually out there playing. The dive was just something I did to celebrate scoring, it wasn’t a case of: ‘I’ll do this to make some money out of it.'” This apt defense of a celebration performed whilst scoring 5 points in an international match, having reached the pinnacle of any sporting person’s uppermost ambition (being chosen to represent your country) hardly seems criminal. The lack of opposition to Williams’s try in contrast, suggests that it is not Ashton’s dive that spectators and the media alike took aversion to, but the frequency with which it occurred and the country for whom he was scoring.

    Of course, the media have also avoided addressing the luck of the Welsh in their previous two games. Against England, it was suggested with hindsight that England’s denied try in the dying moments had been grounded, which would have given England the opportunity to equal the scores. Against Ireland, controversy surrounded the unjustified award of a penalty to Wales with seconds to go, from which they scored three points to win the game. Wales have been lucky, and I fear that if England had scraped through with similar style, the media would have not hesitated to slate every element of their game play, and the element of fluke with which they will enter into their forth match against Italy unbeaten.

    Overall, this highlights the way in which the media develops a united bias over time. Despite the privilege of a free press in this nation that must not be overlooked, this label can mislead people to forget the subtle prejudices of our media. There is a tendency within the media to gradually form a cult with alarmingly repetitive views, as one journalist echoes the opinions of another, with a slight slant of individuality enabling them to call it their own. In turn, the overwhelming power of the media to manipulate the views of the people is evident, as demonstrated in a seemingly insignificant event such as the one addressed above. A populist point is made in an article, repeated many times over, and it is never long before the opinions of the masses follow suit.

    1. My original reply didn’t get through moderation, possibly because I posted from a different machine, so re-posting here (and taking the advantage of spelling correction) on the machine I normally use.

      An eloquently written delusional paranoid fantasy. Let’s first take this idea that England have been conspired against by “the media” to be labelled as lucky but nobody thinks Wales are lucky … We could start with this “Wales were lucky” article after the England game – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/wales/9109103/Wales-were-lucky-to-beat-England-to-win-the-Triple-Crown.-And-that-is-not-a-dirty-word-in-sport.html – or perhaps this one after the Ireland game – http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-union/international/halfpenny-holds-nerve-to-complete-wales-lucky-escape-6577533.html – ?

      I could also quote you dozens of articles praising England in this 6 nations, praising Farrell, praising the ethic that Lancaster seems to have instilled in the team that enables them to take two wins from two away games.

      As for Ashton, which is more likely; he is suffering a loss of form related to poorer distribution from England’s new halfbacks that tend to prefer a fringe based or up and under approach …. Or he’s decided to play badly because of the abuse you imagine he recieved for his swan dive?

      Your prejudices are plain to see, well constructed and show a remarkable ability to present your personal fantasies as if they are facts.

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