RWC 2011: England Player Ratings v Scotland

1. Matt Stevens: Was absolutely schooled at scrum time and pretty much lost the head-to-head with Euan Murray. In my opinion Corbisiero needs to be starting ahead of him. 5/10

2. Steve Thompson: All the ambiguous looks towards other players will not help Thommo as he struggled more than expected. Surprisingly, he appeared to crumble under the pressure and was the key factor to England’s line out problems early on. 5/10

3. Dan Cole: He needed to help buoy the front row but is far from a pack leader. The experience will have helped him but Cole is not indispensible just yet. 6/10

4. Louis Deacon: Was lucky to start ahead of Tom Palmer and did little to cement his spot in the starting 15. He wasn’t conspicuous and if the break down was better his case would be easier to argue. 5/10

5. Courtney Lawes: A quiet game for the Northampton man, not his usual self. Didn’t do much wrong and will only improve after his forced hiatus. 6/10

6. Tom Croft: Like Lawes, not as obvious in attack, but still a good display. Stopped Richie Gray and helped to hold off a try. Consistent as usual, but needs a big game. 7/10

7. Lewis Moody: He seemed to be everywhere and was happy to tackle anything in sight. However he isn’t a captain, when England needed to go forward he failed to lead by example. As a player, good, as a captain, average at best. 6/10

8. James Haskell: Not bad, and still showing why he needs to be on the pitch. Straightened up when the ball was going sideways and looked eager to be involved at all times. 7/10

9. Ben Youngs: So, so, so slow. Youngs was as predictable as an English summer, and his performance was just as dismal. Too many steps behind rucks and was partly to blame for the fact that Wilkinson had trouble igniting his back line. 4/10

10. Jonny Wilkinson: Let’s not kid ourselves, Jonny Wilkinson was on the pitch to put points on the board and, this time around, he failed. As said above, he wasn’t helped with poor distribution but is there any justification for him to start ahead of Flood now? 4/10

11. Delon Armitage: I will happily put my hands up and say I wanted to see Cueto start ahead of Armitage, but the man from London Irish proved his worth. I still feel his decision making needs work, but credit where credit is due, he constantly helped England move forward and was so keen to find the line. 8/10

12. Mike Tindall: The leader of the backs failed to lead. We expect his defence to be good now, but failed to add any attacking impetus. Was made to look better by others outside of him. 5/10

13. Manu Tuilagi: I mentioned in Christine’s and my Key Clash Preview that Tuilagi would be kept quiet, and in the first half that was the case. However, he got over the gain line in the second half and put in some big hits to let the Scots know he hadn’t forgotten about them. 7/10

14. Chris Ashton: It wasn’t surprising to see that it took 59 minutes for Ashton to get the ball as he was completely absent in the first half. Took his try well and started asking questions in the final 30 minutes but never saw enough of the ball to light up the field. 7/10

15. Ben Foden: As usual, he wasn’t scared to run from deep, but seemed a little nervous, as if the occasion got to him. Would love to see him coming into the line a lot more in the 22. 6/10


Easter helped settle the pack, as did Corbisiero, and Palmer proved he is far superior to Deacon in the second row. But Flood added such dynamism when he came on and his vision helped create that vital try. Martin Johnson has a lot of questions to ask himself now.

by Nick Winn

17 thoughts on “RWC 2011: England Player Ratings v Scotland

  1. 7 for Haskell! Honestly?!

    As far as I could see he knocked on a number of times, was knocked around in defence when Scotland ran at him and hardly got over the gainline at all. The reason why we’re supposed to put up with his lack of brains at 8 is because he’s a supposedly good carrier, but he’s not even doing that now.

    What’s most depressing about it is that we have a straight choice between him or Easter in that position. A choice so lacking in positives that it’s like choosing between your balls being beaten by a hammer or a mallet.

  2. Agree with you that we’ve left ourselves short of options at 8, and I was actually quite glad to see Easter come on to ‘shore things up’ as I said at the time. Hmmm.

    Anyway, not sure why people rated Armitage’s performance so highly. He came off his wing at least 3 times in defence to tackle the inside man, thus creating an overlap for the Scots. It was Tuilagi’s awareness that saved England from his errors a couple of times.

    I thought Manu was England’s best player by some distance. A few big hits, several turnovers and one of the most effective ball carriers in the game – he seemed harder to stop than most of the forwards.

    Big improvement required, but luckily for England, France are also looking absolutely clueless.

  3. I agree, Manu was our best player. He has been consistent all through the tournament and for me is the first name on the team-sheet. Why he has yet to get a MOTM award is beyond me.

  4. Reading the comments about The England players one would assume they had been thrashed O.K the game was difficult but it was expected to be This was Eng v Scotland for Christs sake it is always a wrestle.

  5. I think a big part of the problem for England at the minute is Wilkinson. As you mention, he’s there to put points on the board and he’s not even managing that. He doesn’t distribute well to the rest of the backs, he’s kicking away a lot of possession and missing goal. This is what’s putting pressure on England in defence as the ball is going up field and coming straight back. Flood came on, the game changed and suddenly we’re seeing England’s backline in use. This is how the game should start. Frustration for me comes in that Johnson seemed to have this down during the 6 nations. Flood and Youngs make the attack and put England ahead by 60 minutes. Wilkinson comes on, pins them in their half and England pressure and score penalties. Great tactic. So why is Jonny starting?

    Stevens I don’t think deserves his 5, not even doing anything useful in the loose or breakdown. Like Jonny, his replacement is where it’s at. Stevens continues to scrummage poorly and give away unnecessary penalties in that position. As with Jonny, replacement comes on, different game. Corbs was more than a match for his opposite number and shoved Scotland back in the scrums, to me he’s the obvious replacement for Sherry!

    I actually wonder if Youngs’ poor play is down to his link up with Wilkinson, perhaps not willing to pass to him knowing he won’t distribute.

  6. Manu – easily our best centre since Guscott was in his pomp AND he can tackle!

    Bit worried about our 8/9 axis. Youngs hasn’t been the same since his injury and was really woeful against Scotland. The best teams in this RWC are playing with really noticeable quick ball and we really didn’t have that until Ashton’s try. Not entirely sure you can blame that on Wilko, but I reckon Flood has just been playing a little bit better as the RWC has gone on. I’m sure the AB’s would like to have an experienced 10 as back up!

    1. agreed staggy.

      i think youngs will play much better with Floody outside him and the backs much better as a result.

      wilko hasnt beent he points machine of old and has bee in this bonnet about the ball when place kicking although his punting has been v good.

    2. their back up 10 is a 12 year old called slade.

      if i was G Henry, id be sending Nick Evans a huge bunch of flowers and begging him to come back.

  7. Re: Tindall – “we expect his defence to be good” – but it isn’t! He is slow and lumbering and got flat footed several times. We have to go with Flood at 10 and Hape (!) at 12 for the France game.

  8. I have to agree with Mike Catt actually, go with Flood at 12 and Jonny at 10. There’s just not enough good distribution in the backline. Maybe even start with Floody goalkicking but it would help if we didn’t keep making Jonny have a go with speculative efforts as well.

  9. Flood at 12 and Wilkinson at 10 I feel is a daft idea. Reason number 1: if Flood does get maimed, Wilkinson has to play the rest of the match. Who wants to guarantee that? Reason number 2: The poor distribution is coming from 10. I think Wilko needs to come off the bench to close out the game, it’s the sensible way. Reason number 3: although Flood can play 12, I don’t think he’s done it for more than 20 minutes since he left Newcastle. They had him at 12 for a bit against Scotland before Wilko came off, but that didn’t improve anything until he was gone.

  10. Must say that the one thing I like about Wilko’s game at the moment is his tactical kicking. That will become more and more important as the RWC goes on (hopefully!), although goal kicking also vital and Flood seems to be knocking them over at present.

    1. I don’t know about that. He’s hoofing it up field a lot, not putting it out giving other teams the opportunity to run it back, putting pressure on the defence, giving away penalties, putting England under pressure. Those kicks need to find touch for England to put pressure on. When his tactical kicking is working though, best save it for the last 20 when England can pin them back and put the pressure on and just keep getting penalties on the board and stop their opponent from running it back to easily

  11. I have to agree with jimmymc1 here. Youngs will benefit from having Flood outside him, an vice versa. I thought Wigglesworth did a good job when he came on, but didn’t get enough time to really make any impression. I think Flood has to start against France, but the other problem is if Wilko is not fit who do you have on the bench to play 10. Will we see Simpson on the bench to cover 9 and Wigy to cover 10? Not the best solution, but what other choice do we have. Wiggy is the only other guy in the team who’s got any experience at 10. I think MJ needs to assess both Tindall and Wilko, and make a decision whether to keep them, or send them home and get the replacements bedded in the team quickly, because if we do beat France we will only have a week to get organised.

  12. Good thought Staggy. The odds on five would be even better. Let’s just say Simpson is on scrum half cover, but has to come on to replace a winger because they’re all injured, and because he would be better than Banahan!

    1. Shall we just say that if there are more than three scrum halves on the pitch it means problems for England!

      Looking forward to and desperately worried about the game on Saturday already! Blimey it’s going to be a long week!

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