Six Nations 2016: Italy vs England Player Ratings



15. Luke McLean: 6
A busy performance from McLean, who took some of the playmaking responsibility away from his 10. Solid fare.

14. Leonardo Sarto: 4
Couldn’t impose himself on the game as others did, and threw the unfortunate miss pass that allowed Joseph in for the try that sparked England into life.

13. Michele Campagnaro: 7
Can’t be held accountable for any of his opposite number’s tries. Carried with immense intent and to good effect whenever he had the ball.

12. Gonzalo Garcia: 6.5

Imagine Jamie Roberts could kick from the tee and had a massive ginger beard. Then you’d have something close to what Garcia offers – Italy were immensely poorer for his absence after being forced off with injury.

11. Mattia Bellini: 6.5
Looked far more dangerous than Sarto, although he was never quite able to fully free himself from the English defence’s grasp.

10. Carlo Canna: 7
Confirmed that last week’s performance wasn’t a flash in the pan, again taking the ball to the line and varying his game with some (mostly) delightful chip kicks behind England’s defence. Goal-kicking was vastly improved also.

9. Edoardo Gori: 5.5
Jones marked him out as a threat before the game, but that never really materialised as England’s fringe defence was vastly superior to Italy’s.

1. Andrea Lovotti: 5
Tough day at the office for Lovotti who conceded three penalties before being substituted.

2. Ornel Gega: 6
The line-out ran smoothly enough, but there was little else to shout about from Gega’s performance.

3. Lorenzo Cittadini: 6
Dealt fine with Mako Vunipola at scrum-time but as he began to tire and Joe Marler’s set piece influence increased, the scrum certainly started to creak.

4. George Biagi: 8
Italy’s man of the match. Powerfully physical at times, and with an exceptional workrate – his tally of 13 tackles was four more than any other player.

5. Marco Fuser: 5
Forced off with injury before he could have any influence on the game.

6. Francesco Minto: 6
Offered himself as a runner on plenty of occasions, but failed to make any significant dents in the English defensive line.

7. Alessandro Zanni: 5
Like Fuser, was forced off in the first half before showing what he could do.

8. Sergio Parisse: 7.5
The most astonishing thing about Parisse is his workrate. He made more carries than anyone else on his team, which is normal, but he also made more passes than everyone but the starting half-backs. Didn’t always influence proceedings with his contributions in this game, but it was brimming with passion again.

Replacements: 4.5

The replacement front row really struggled to deal with the combination of a fresh Joe Marler and a just excellent Dan Cole. The only man to impress off the timber was former Springbok U20 captain Brahm Steyn, who was a real livewire in the back-row.


15. Mike Brown: 6
The usual solid stuff from Brown, whose excellence in the air was plain to see again, but when are we going to start asking questions about his distributing skills in attack? They just aren’t there at the moment.

14. Anthony Watson: 7.5
One second half burst of acceleration proved how lethal he can be on the counter, while his ripping of Gonzalo Garcia and some good work at the breakdown shows that he is a more rounded player than a year ago.

13. Jonathan Joseph: 8
One superb finish, one good read for an intercept, and one walk-win. More encouraging than his hattrick, however, was his willingness on occasion to step back inside, or run a hard line, rather than simply try the hitch-kick and outside arc that has largely become readable.

12. Owen Farrell: 7.5
Cut a beautiful supporting line for his try and there were a couple of deft touches in the build-up to other tries. Such are the improvements in his game going forward that he is currently England’s best play-maker.

11. Jack Nowell: 5.5
It just didn’t click for Nowell in this game. He often found himself running up blind allies, which wasn’t always his own fault admittedly.

10. George Ford: 6
A thoroughly mixed bad from Ford, who finished a try superbly but still seemed unsure of himself in a couple of situations in which, last season, he would have trusted his instincts.

9. Ben Youngs: 7.5
Some marvellous sniping runs were simply too good for the Italian defence to deal with, but his score is tempered slightly by some ankle-bashing service and a couple of wayward kicks.

1. Mako Vunipola: 6.5
The scrum was solid, if not dominant, during his time on the pitch, and he was busy in the loose with his carrying.

2. Dylan Hartley: 5
The lineout was a complete nightmare, although how much of that was his own fault and how much of it was Kruis continually calling the ball to himself, we can’t be sure. As the hooker, though, he will always take some of the flak.

3. Dan Cole: 7.5
Another great shift from Cole, who is rapidly returning to the world-class prop of a few years ago. Strong in the scrum and a nuisance at the breakdown, and impressive longevity once again to play 70 minutes.

4. Courtney Lawes: 6
An OK stint from Lawes, although he did nothing to suggest that on current form he deserves to be starting ahead of Launchbury.

5. George Kruis: 8
A monumental shift in the loose, as powerful and athletic as any you will see this Six Nations – but he must lose a point as the line-out caller for the troubles there. In general, though, is there another man that has improved so immeasurably under the new coaching staff?

6. Chris Robshaw: 6.5
One textbook ‘jackal’ was encouraging to see, and there was the usual high work-rate in defence to finish as joint top tackler with 13.

7. James Haskell: 7
Some of the hits he put in were huge, reminiscent of Lydiate at his best in the way that they sapped momentum from Italy’s attack way behind the gainline.

8. Billy Vunipola: 8
Vunipola junior was once again hugely effective on the gainline, while he also managed to find room for a couple of offloads – something that could definitely take him to the next level as a player. One such pass played a key role in England’s first try.

Replacements: 9

England’s bench ultimately made the difference. Joe Marler was bone-crunchingly physical with his tackling and similarly effective at the scrum. Danny Care upped the tempo, scampering around as only he can and putting in a gorgeous kick for Joseph’s second.

Maro Itoje’s sheer athleticism was plain for all to see, while Jamie George’s offload for Farrell’s try was indicative of a front-row forward with alarming handling ability. And Alex Goode, much maligned in the past, added a different dimension to England’s attack from the back with his stuttering style and fine distribution opening gaps for others.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

23 thoughts on “Six Nations 2016: Italy vs England Player Ratings

  1. 7.5 for Youngs????? That was easily his worst 50 minutes in an England shirt! Deserved a 3 for having all the speed of an iceberg

    1. Never his worst performance as he sliced through the Italian line twice for clean breaks.
      Agreed his passing was poor but his speed wasn’t all that slow.
      Care added more zip to the attack when he came on but rating him 3 and saying it was his worse performance is incredibly harsh

      1. He sliced through two front rows once. I don’t particularly care about flashy things like that. He got to every breakdown late, he took an age to get the ball away, he then took five steps before throwing glacially slow, inaccurate passes. He put England under a huge amount of pressure and it genuinely looked like he couldn’t be bothered. A 7.5 score is ludicrous. It was easily his worst performance in an England shirt.

  2. Still baffled how Youngs got man of the match? Kruis was indeed immense, and has surely made the shirt his own.

    In light of the lineout cock-ups, and the fact that Jamie George is in better form, surely a case needs to be made for him to start? His club partnership with Kruis, and they’re understanding of each others game can only be of benefit to England.
    If both Hartley and Lawes were the best in their positions at the moment, then fair enough, but when Kruis and George are playing like this I think Lawes and Hartley need to be benched for a game.

    1. It was made by the host broadcaster and after 60 minutes for reasons no one can fathom. Just looking at some of the dross we get lumbered with, masquerading as expert punditry, I can only assume it was some Italian version of Inverdale or Nicol handing out the prize.

    2. I don’t see how any of the line out mistakes can be laid at Hartley’s door. He looked to be hitting his mark each time but the calling was far too predictable. So many times Robshaw was shuffling about as a false jumper only to be completely ignored by Italian defenders knowing they only had Kruis and Lawes to worry about.

      I’m hoping to see Itoje come in at 6, and instantly a 3rd option will allow Hartley room to maneuver. Not to mention his additional work around the park.

      1. A couple of Hartley’s throws were wildly wonky – those ones are definitely his fault!

        Robshaw shuffling as a dummy jumper isn’t really down to him either. Kruis is the lineout caller – it’s up to him mix up the calls a bit more. I can’t remember another time a player has kept calling every single line-out to himself! The argument that Robshaw can’t jump isn’t accurate either – Quins lift him all the time. So as excellent as Kruis has been, I do think Borthwick needs to sit him down and tell him to use Plan B every now and then!

        That all being said, I definitely want Itoje in the team against Ireland. His impact was immense in Italy.

        1. Definitely wouldn’t put the blame at Robshaws door – quite the opposite. What I meant was that he was doing what he could to draw attention to himself as a possible jumper, and because Kruis just kept calling them to himself the Italian line out roundly ignored Robshaw.

          Hartley didn’t throw perfectly – but Kruis made his job 10 times harder. The hooker will always be heavily blamed for line out failure, but my point is more that Kruis should shoulder far more of it.

        2. This is exactly what I was thinking. I’ve seen Robshaw go up plenty of times for Quins and also England on occasion. All they had to do was call it to him once early on and he’s then an option. Or once they noticed Italy were paying him no attention, call it to him! Kruis has been getting a lot of plaudits, but his calling was bordering on idiotic.

  3. I’m pretty glad to see someone agree with me about Cole’s form – I thought I was going bad. He made a constant nuisance of himself at the breakdown, and I really can’t recall more than one pen. Personally I’d prefer someone at least contesting the breakdown.

    Ben Youngs as well, whilst clearly not being MOTM, was very good. His sniping runs bought England a lot of time and helped to get forward runners over the gainline regularly. He did seem a tad delayed to a few breakdowns but they were largely ones where breaks were involved or when we went the width of the pitch quickly, that happens! Also thought Ford probably didn’t help. His confidence is clearly in bits, and it looked a lot as though Youngs was really having to look for him. A good 9/10 partnership will know where each other are through pure communication, but that didn’t look to be the case with Ford yesterday, I’m betting his lack of confidence made him go a bit quiet.

  4. Knock a point off Brown for constantly shouting at the referee. Worse than most footballers and an utter disgrace. The way he got in Glen Jackson’s grill as they left the pitch at half time was particularly embarrassing – especially as on the particular point he was wrong, but even if he had been right he should still be told to shut up.

    1. while i agree brown need to calm down and stop being a general pain in the arse to the ref, we cant keep griling him considering he has never recieved a ban or a yellow card in an england shirt, he tows the very thin line well but should be under more control.

  5. These scores are a little high to say the least, Kruis meeds to lose another point due to the line out. We have to remember this was Italy, I am still concerned with the midfield, it is not effective enough and cannot go forward to clean up bad ball.

    I worry that against Wales we will get nowhere, EJ is going to need time to sort it out and he needs guys to come back from injury.

    Going pretty well so far, they could not have done more

    1. Two points- why would we need to remember this is Italy? They have a very good set piece and are as much a challenge there as anyone in the six nations(read set piece not forward packs).
      Not sure why kruis gets the blame for lineout, there were a few cases of poor throws and poor lifting as much as poor calling- and what can you really do with only 2 jumping options?

  6. Robshaw may have made the most tackles but that alone (and one ‘jackal’) isn’t enough from an international 7. Extra skills/attributes are required by the modern all-singing all-dancing back-row forward. Itoje has line-out abilities and strength with carrying (kind of useful when England need a 3rd line out option against the upcoming Ireland and Wales) whilst Armitage is the complete package omitting line out presence.
    He may get away with it for the time being whilst there is literally no off the shelf replacement but the time has to be close unless he can learn quickly from George Smith.
    Otherwise Clifford, Itoje, Kvesic, Armitage or Fraser will fill that spot. The harder pitches of the land of Oz will do CR no favours with speed around the pitch to the next breakdown required. I’d put my money on the first three of the 5 x listed back-row forwards above to play in Oz (watch this space) assuming that is he’s not able to wangle Armitage with the RFU (though hopefully I might be proved wrong there)

    1. Robshaw only played 7 when Itoje came on. Personally I would like to see Itoje in his favoured position of lock (in place of lumbering Lawes), and Beaumont at 6.

  7. Sam underhill will be the player where the exceptional
    Circumstances rule is levied. He could be the answer to the 7 problem and I predict he will go to oz

    1. Armitage is 30 so too old, and has looked completely pedestrian whenever Toulon have struggled this season.
      Both Jones and Ritchie have suggested that Underhill will get selected through the EC clause already. Still think Kvesic needs a go in the meantime as it’s worth having a back up international seven with a few caps

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