RWC Warm-Up: England Player Ratings v Wales

15. Ben Foden: 5/10
Was pretty anonymous for most of the game due to lack of possession. Made a couple of breaks later on, with one nearly resulting in a try. A rare off day for Foden but on past form and a possible start against Ireland, he should make the final 30.

14. Matt Banahan: 4/10
Not one of Banahan’s best games in an England shirt. Was a late replacement for the injured Chris Ashton and could have scored a try in the first half, but a great tackle from Shane Williams put stop to that. Still not a definite for the plane to New Zealand, he will have to work hard to impress Martin Johnson.

13. Mike Tindall: 5/10
An average display at best from Tindall. He tried to lead from the front and made a good break in the first half, it was just the pass after that failed him. Will make the travelling squad but the pressure is on him to perform if he gets the chance against Ireland.

12. Shontayne Hape: 2/10
An 80 minutes to forget for Shontayne Hape. He still doesn’t look comfortable in an England shirt as attempted attacking moves waned when the ball reached him. Both centres lacked the creativity and imagination that is needed at this level of the game. There is something about Hape that Johnson seems to like, but this hasn’t been shown on the pitch yet.

11. Mark Cueto: 4/10
Like his fellow members in the back three, Cueto struggled to get his hands on the ball. A very quiet game from him, but the same went for his opposite number, George North. Might get in the team for Ireland but having played in both Wales games, his experience should get him on the plane.

10. Toby Flood: 4/10
Despite having a good kicking game with attacking intent, perhaps Flood should have been instructed to kick at goal more to keep the scoreboard ticking over when penalties were given within his range. The pressure is there from Jonny Wilkinson for who starts in that number 10 jersey but that shouldn’t faze Flood.

9. Richard Wigglesworth: 3/10
Went off early on in the first half with a knock but should hopefully come back to press Joe Simpson for the final scrum-half berth behind Ben Youngs and Danny Care.

1. Alex Corbisiero: 7/10
Was dominant at loosehead, particularly against Craig Mitchell in the scrum, where repeated penalties on the 5 metre line would have spelled a penalty try but not according to Alain Rolland. Still needs work on his handling skills but is generally improving with every game.

2. Steve Thompson: 8/10
England’s star man. Was secure with his line out throwing and showed his experience by leading the front row in the scrum. Also managed to break through the gain line, something that was a rarity for England in general over the course of the match. Will definitely go to New Zealand.

3. Dan Cole: 7/10
A good all round game for the Leicester tighthead as there was no weak link in the front row. There are slight improvements that do need making but overall he did his job and he did it well. Should be in Johnson’s first choice XV for the World Cup.

4. Louis Deacon: 6/10
One half of the engine room behind the front row and sealed plenty of possession from the lineout in combination with Lawes. Was quiet in the open but did what was asked of him. He still has some pressing to do to compete with Lawes and Palmer for the starting shirts but will go to New Zealand in the squad.

5. Courtney Lawes: 6/10
It’s good to see Courtney Lawes back. He had a solid game, particularly in the lineout and should start against Ireland in a game that England will want to go out on a high from. Lawes will just keep improving with the more game time he gets, an exciting prospect.

6. Tom Wood: 5/10
Despite being over-shadowed by the excellence of Wales’s back row, there were signs of brightness, with Tom Wood standing out above his two colleagues. He didn’t disappoint against Wales, but his form from this year’s Six Nations needs to be found. Wood will go to New Zealand, and he will press Croft and Haskell for the blindside jersey.

7. Hendre Fourie: 4/10
It’s always hard to judge when your opposite number has been named man of the match, but Fourie, though busy at the breakdown, just contributed to providing slow ball to be distributed to the backs. With Moody injured, Fourie needs to improve, but better opensides will not be scared of him.

8. Nick Easter: 4/10
A quiet game for someone who is a big presence on the pitch a lot of the time, it felt as though Easter was a bit lost in this match. This is worrying as he has been the first choice number 8 for a while. He should get a second chance against Ireland.


16. Lee Mears
Replaced Steve Thompson in the second half and impressed with his line out throwing, continuing what Thompson had started. His impact in other areas of the game was limited.

17. Matt Stevens
Came on for Alex Corbisiero with just under 20 minutes left in the game. He proved why he should be on the plane for New Zealand last week when playing at tighthead but was given the chance at loosehead this week, showing his versatility on both sides of the scrum.

18. Tom Palmer
Came on for Louis Deacon with 13 minutes left on the clock. Did not really make an impact during that time.

19. James Haskell
Came on at openside for Fourie and got involved in the game straight away but struggled to penetrate the gain line thanks to Wales’s excellent defence. Can pack down in any of the back row positions but will that just leave him as an impact player come the World Cup?

20. Danny Care: 6/10
Due to Wigglesworth’s knock, Care came onto the pitch sooner than expected and he made a definite impact. The break from the line out in the first half was excellent from him but there are still issues about his ball distribution.

21. Charlie Hodgson
Came on late on in the match for Toby Flood so didn’t have the chance to make much of an impact on the game.

22. Delon Armitage: 6/10
Added some pace and variety when he came on the pitch for Mike Tindall. Had a good game last week at Twickenham and had a good cameo appearance this week, setting up Foden for his break. Is pushing Foden hard for that starting full back jersey and it’s good to see him back on form.

by Rachel Simmonite

13 thoughts on “RWC Warm-Up: England Player Ratings v Wales

  1. Probably fair, although to say Foden had little impact because of lack of England possession is odd since they had a lot of ball. They just didn’t give it to him. Nor did he have a lot to do in defence.

    Hape is obviously a weak link. As you say, all attacking moves ended with him. He was trying to run crash ball lines but he was always static – result, shoved backwards, ball lost. Banahan tried much of the same. I’d like to see Manu Tuilagi start next week against Ireland.

    I felt a bit sorry for Flood. He was ambitious and treated the game with the correct spirit. This is a warm-up, lets give the boys a chance to score a try and warm up properly, only to see his efforts thwarted. He ran his usual lines well, but when he’s finding Banahan instead of Ashton, it’s not working and the ball provided by Wigglesworth, though good, was not drawing the man as Flood is used to with Youngs.

    Good work in the tight 5. I would have expected to see Welsh yellow cards for some of the blatant collapses and the time on the Welsh 5m line should have resulted in a try. They did some really good work that deserves acknowledging

  2. Ratings were fair. I feel that it is unfair of us to say that Wilko should start based on 2 matches, Flood was so good in the Six nation. I though Banahan was fairly safe bet to be on the Plane to NZ, but i felt he almost managed to play himself off the team. He proved that his size isnt enough, twice or three times he took the inside line and got nailed. And he should have scored that try. I mean come on, the smallest man on the pitch, it should have been easy for him. And Hape was useless, time for Manu to take his place.

  3. I think you’re both going easy on Flood. He had an abysmal game. No spark, no creativity. If the inside ball didn’t work, he just shipped it down the line hoping someone else would do something with it. He stood far too deep and not once did we see an attempt to run it

    This was a horrible game for England – we regressed to where we were 2 years ago under Borthwick (and in fact we seemed to have his clone on the pitch in the form of Deacon)

    What the hell are the forwards doing standing around in mid-field the whole time? Why aren’t they being told to hit the rucks hard, clearing them out for quick ball? Why no pick and go from the big men? Why can’t England use the rolling maul properly any more?

    Everyone, backs and forwards, were static. Why can’t they run onto the ball? What are they being coached? Honestly, this is schoolboy stuff

    And don’t get me started on Cueton and Banahan. They are meant to be wingers but neither of them have any pace! I would honestly not be suprised if the Aussie or AB props could out pace them in a foot race

    Banahan in particular, should hang his head in shame for missing that try. Just how did he manage to let Williams tackle him? Where was the inside step or the hand-off?

    Our only hope is to drop Hape, Cueto, Banahan and Deacon ASAP

    Solution to our midfield problems – play Flood at inside centre with either Armitage or Tuilagi outside him. It’ll take the pressure off Flood, we know he can play there, he can pass and kick well and often has good little half-breaks where he looks to off-load. With Armitage or Tuilagi on his shoulder, that could be deadly

    Sorry for the rant, but this game depressed me

    1. paolo

      that wasnt a rant, its spot on.

      I watched the game again last night, why didnt flood klick the 4 penalties which would have won us the match?

      Banahan at top speed is quite a sight, but being a winger isnt always about top speed. even if england use him as bath do, he doesnt cut it at this level.

      poor old charlie sharples would have finished that try hopping on one leg.

  4. Just from a Welsh perspective….
    I think Martin Johnson will have an easy job cutting people not the selection headache he’d like though.

    Too many players not really showing there they wanted to be on that plane. If the england squad showed half the desire and passion of Stevens then they would be an absolute force.

  5. Altogether, the starting backs did not impress. Little or no penetration and no flair. Is Tindall really where it’s at? Banahan, poor and gave away penalties. If another thread is to be believed he was on instructions – really? Thompson, best forward? Says little for Englnad’s choice, but preferable to a certain Saints’ player. I watched Thompson in the 2003 final yesterday. Old style forward still appears to be better, worrying. Have we no talent coming on? Corbisiero one to watch: Armitage must go to NZ. Hape disappointed again. There must be an answer to crash, bang wallop backs. Brian Smith don’t keep it a secret!

    That’s it. I won’t go on.

  6. Flood never has been, or will be, a decent fly half – hes a converted center, and never looks anything else – its only when Youngs is playing inside him that he looks good, and thats because Youngs vreates a threat in the minds of the opposition that givs flood time to operate.

    Would be interesting to see Wilko at 10 with Flood moving into the centers with Manu, this would give England great kicking options and much better distribution.

    Would also like to see Armitage given a run in the centers, though i think it wont happen this year. Him and Manu would be worth a run.

    And wheres Stefan Armitage? Getting a tan in Toulon when he should be winning ball for England.

    1. Ah Steffon Armitage. Had forgotten about him. How nice it would be to have an openside who steals balls and is an effective link between backs and forwards!

  7. Would be interesting to see Armitage given a shot at 12 with Tuilagi outside. Armitage has the initial turn of pace to break the line, and if he can free up the ball in the tackle Tuilagi could really punish teams defenses. Stevens for captain if Moody’s not fit. He was the only player who showed any real passion, and it started when he was singing God save the Queen.

    1. Now that’s a good call on Armitage. For sure we have nothing to lose in trying him at 12 against Ireland.

  8. Ring Rusty players with too much Gym work not enough game time, this was a poor game from a lot of quality players, things will come into focus as they are made to watch some poor execution and equally bad choices made. eNGLAND WOULD CRUSH wALES IN A rwc Match, a decent referee would also have caned Wales

  9. Sigh.

    If this world cup was 1 year away, not 1 month – i’d be very confident.

    Johnson has left it too late to get his selection right, i believe.

    A wilkinson – flood – tuilagi – sharples – ashton – foden backline is awesome – but unless he trials something like that in the pool games, it’s not likely to happen.

  10. Why are so many people surprised at Saturday’s performance? The pack was always going to be competitive but the England backs appeared consumed by the fear of failure and that can only be down to the coaching they have received. Banahan, for example, certainly doesn’t play like that when he’s got a Bath shirt on his back and Flood looked confident and poised throughout last season’s premiership. The final piece of proof is the lack of involvement that Foden had; a potent finisher and he was hardly given a sniff of the ball.

    It may be the eleventh hour but you can’t work with goods that is past its sell-by date and drastic surgery is required behind the scrum. That means dispensing with both Tindall and Hape, who, by the way, was never really rated by Bath fans. Wilkinson should be reinstated as the No.1 fly-half with Tuilagi and Armitage outside him and Flood on the bench to act as cover. The back three should be Foden, Ashton (let’s all pray he is fit) and Cueto with Sharples and Banahan on the bench.

    Finally, Johnson needs to ensure that these guys are allowed to use their talents and always retain the option to play what is in front of them.

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