Autumn Internationals 2018: England Player Ratings Versus New Zealand

Sam Underhill

Ben Moon 7

Another industrious display from the Exeter man. Handled himself well in the scrum and did his fair share of hard yards as ever in and around the loose. Should keep hold of the jersey in Mako Vunipola’s absence.

Dylan Hartley  6

Part of a pack that took the game right to New Zealand at the start and contributed heavily in first-half, before dotting down at the back of a rolling maul for second try. Taken off at half-time and line-out struggled badly without him throwing in.

Kyle Sinckler  7

Absolutely everywhere in first-half, tackling anything that moved in an All Blacks jersey and carried with real drive and impetus. Will have been disappointed to have knocked the ball on close to the New Zealand line in second-half. Still a bit rough around the edges with scrummaging needing some work but growing with every passing game.

Maro Itoje  7

Strong first-half as the lock was England’s go-to man in defence, phenomenal line-speed and always made himself an option in attack. Faded in second-half a little bit and outplayed by Retallick at the line-out.

George Kruis   6

Did well in first-half as part of forward pack that steamrollered New Zealand, but struggled to match that in second-half as Retallick and Whitelock gained the upper hand at the line-out. Could come under pressure from Lawes.

Brad Shields  6

Improved showing from last week, from a player with something of a point to prove to Steve Hansen. Provided real tenacious energy in defence giving All Blacks no time and space when they had ball. Tired in the second-half before being replaced, but left the field having emptied the tank.

Sam Underhill  8

A tour-de-force performance from the Bath-man. Hugely physical presence with some real bone-shaking tackles and ran some intelligent lines. Mightily unfortunate not to have been the match-winner at the end, having sent Beauden Barrett to New Zealand and back again with some incredible footwork. Ready-made for this level and should become regular fixture in back-row.

Mark Wilson  7

Continues to impress deputising for the injured Vunipola. A workaholic in defence but need to see more dynamism in his carrying if he is to become a regular squad member.

Ben Youngs  7

Masterful use of conditions in first-half with box-kicking game on the money and cut New Zealand defence with exquisite miss-pass for Ashton to dive in at the corner. Faded though in second-half with kicking radar off, and will have been grateful to have seen All Blacks spurn golden try-scoring chance having failed to find touch with one kick.

Owen Farrell  7

Heavy contributor in defence again, executing a perfect rip in first-half, stopped a charging Kieran Read in his tracks early in second before saving best to last with try-saving tackle that forced Damian McKenzie to knock on. That said will have been disappointed to have been caught out positionally for McKenzie’s try and as captain failed to build the lead turning down two shots at goal inside New Zealand’s 22.

Jonny May  7

Another strong showing from the wing, if not given many clear chances to have a run at the opposition line. Kept New Zealand defence on their toes, always a danger and threat with ball in hand as shown with one mazy run towards the end. Worked hard on kick-chase to disrupt All Blacks under the high ball.

Ben Teo  6

Better showing than last week, looking more lively and prominent in defence. Still looks a touch off the pace in attack though.

Henry Slade  6

Showed some nice delicate touches at times and produced a smart grubber-kick in the first-half to keep England playing in right areas. Still to see him at his best though in an England jersey.

Chris Ashton   7

Repaid Eddie Jones’ faith with try-scoring performance taking the one big chance that came his way. Like May had few opportunities in attack to have a real crack at opposing defence but worked hard in defence and on kick-chase. Replaced before the end but done enough to merit a run in the team.

Elliot Daly  6

Quieter game than last week, but definite signs of improvement under high ball. Not as effective as would have hoped, with jury still out on whether full-back is his best position.


Jamie George  5

Struggled. Brodie Retallick was a real nuisance at the line-out but losing that many throws on your own ball, some portion of the blame has to fall on thrower. Will be disappointed as knows he is better than that.

Alec Hepburn  6

Upon his introduction to the match, was more solid in the scrum than last week and carried to good effect. More of an impact player than a starter.

Harry Williams  6

Another impressive cameo from the Chiefs prop. Anchored the scrum well and did his work clearing out the rucks to good effect.

Charlie Ewels  6

Had more chance to impress coming on earlier than last week. Difficult however with England chasing the game but worked hard for the team. Chance from the start may come next week.

Courtney Lawes  7

Had a brief but highly efficient cameo in first-half where he racked up the tackles. So nearly the hero with his chargedown and desperately unlucky to see himself penalised for marginal offside call. Key member of this England squad.

Danny Care  6

At a time when Youngs was struggling his introduction brought more impetus to England’s attack, buzzed around the fringes keeping defenders honest and tried manfully as always to get good quick ball for the backline to work with but unable to find way through.

George Ford  6

Came on again in final quarter, and brought a touch more imagination to the attack looking to spark the backline into action. Deserves a go from the start against Japan.

Jack Nowell  6

Replaced Ashton in final quarter. Willing as ever to help out in defence and tried his best in attack but had no luck breaking down resolute New Zealand defence.

16 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals 2018: England Player Ratings Versus New Zealand

  1. I think you’ve been unfair on the starters, for me all deserve at least a 7 bearing in mind this wasn’t England’s first choice side and New Zealand’s as near as damn it was.

    Hartley in particular was two points ahead of George.

    1. Not sure what happened with George. He had a huge cut/bruise on his cheekbone from pretty much the minute he came on, and seemed a bit slower than usual.
      Not concussion maybe but just a bit dazed?

      1. But look at their replacements, still massively experienced and would walk straight into any international side.

        This was only the second time Te’o and Slade had started together and our back row really had hardly any experience playing together.

        1. Mr B, but nevertheless it wasn’t quite as nr as damn it. And it is what it is in rugby. That England had injuries & therefore less experienced guys on the field or on the bench is down to Jones’s lack of prior prep in blooding, rotating. It is what it is.

  2. Farrell – “Heavy contributor in defence again”

    11 missed tackles. 11. This isnt a one off. Farrell misses tackles every game. If other England FH’s had missed tackles the way Farrell does, there would be a massive outcry. Why does his lack of defensive competence not get called out?

    1. Excluding the McKenzie try, which quite honestly was brilliant play by him and Barrett (and Te’o was more culpable), did a single one of those missed tackles result in a line break? Nope. Can you even remember a single one of his missed tackles?

      They were mostly in open play or where he was trying to rip the ball in situations where there’s heavy traffic and he gets shrugged off with no negative impact for England as the guy gets tackled anyway.

      Cipriani and Ford would never get into over half the tackle situations Farrell does as he’s hidden away.

      A great example of where statistics don’t tell the whole story

      1. Steve, N sly, can you imagine NZ accepting 11 missed? N sly, you’re papering the cracks with fake justification. You need to get yr ‘real’ head on. 11 is acceptable? Perlease! Lucky for England you’re not their coach!

        1. Don P, search for the Times article about Farrell’s tackling, it is really good.

          I am sure that the England defense coach would have been delighted at the one try conceded statistic and 16 points coceded, far more important than the 43 missed tackles, of which a lot of them were related to the system.

          Systems which encourage the lead defender to rush out to prevent the ball going wide and suck the ball carrier into heavy traffic lead to missed tackles as more often than not the lead defender misses the tackle as it is a stright one on one but if the system is working well, the ball carrier will immediately be enveloped by the inside defenders (as happened most of the time on saturday).

          It is no coincidence Saracens have one of the most missed tackles and lowest tries conceded in the premiership, as this is system related. Saracens also analyse missed tackles as ‘good misses’ (such as lead defender missing and being beaten in the kick chase but pegging them back and resulting in them being tackled by others quickly) and ‘bad misses’ (your traditional missed tackles that result in line breaks).

          Most fans prefer simple statistics such as ‘missed tackles’, but this grossly simplifies the modern game and different tactics and systems and this is a brilliant example. I would be astonished if Mitchell wasn’t very happy with England (and Farrell’s) defensive performance, in spite of 46 missed tackles.

          1. Nsly, you ‘talk’ a convincing game as in Ancient Greek history when a certain group of philosophers known as Sophists could argue that black was actually white. Today it’s called spin. That Sarries apparently have a system in place that covers Farrell’s missed tackles is surely 1 which is reactive, not preventative then? To invite missed tackles is surely a Shophists philosophy. Besides, as Saracens over power teams up front, thereby by sucking in defenders so they’re out of place, they overrun opposition & so the misses you describe must be less frequent & therefore relatively less relevant. To invite missed tackles, is to invite potential disaster & if Saracens weren’t so dominant, I wonder if they would continue with this alleged practice. A missed tackle is a missed tackle fella. I wonder if EJ & other England fans would applaud the missed tackle which saw Damian McKenzie go over near the posts? A definite maybe, I think.

      2. Why exclude the McKenzie try? If you accept he was, at least, partly responsible then surely this was a defining moment in the game.
        And yes, I do recall seeing him miss tackles. He sells himself early, gets stranded and is easily passed. That is just poor defending.
        Anytime anyone misses a tackle it has a negative impact. Ground is lost, opportunity is opened up for the attacking team and some other defender needs to make the tackle that has been missed. Making tackles and stopping the attacking flow is simply essential to a team functioning properly.
        Now stats arent the complete picture, as you do have to place them in a bit context, but any player missing that number of tackles in one game is underperforming to an alarming degree.
        But there is nothing new in Farrell missing tackles. He has done this all his career. Go back and look at his stats this calendar year.

        1. Steve, I only said excluding the McKenzie try as I fully agree he was at least partly responsible so my comment looked at the rest of his performance, which I saw as being good.

          My response to Don P responds to the rest!

  3. I’m just curious, what do people think George could’ve done differently in order to win the lineouts? Because if you watch them in repeat, he throws them on target. How is he then in any position to stop them being intercepted?

  4. Also, as prev stated @ this time last yr, it might have been useful to have had a comparison with NZ players. Less subjective then?

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