RWC2019: England Player Ratings Versus Australia

Tom Curry

England are starting to build something big in Japan. An unexceptional, though highly-professional, beginning to the tournament saw Eddie Jones’ recruits safely into the knockout stages, with the men in white continuing to improve as they swept aside old enemies Australia in the quarters.

Now, they can prepare for a mouth-watering showdown with New Zealand in the last four, but are we likely to see any alterations from Jones ahead of that encounter? On the evidence of how his starting XV performed on Saturday, probably not – here’s how each player got on versus the Wallabies.

Mako Vunipola – 9
Whenever a prop posts stats like Vunipola did on the weekend, it’s difficult not to lavish praise upon them. The Saracen made a colossal 20 tackles against Australia, whilst also carrying with vigour and purpose as the English overwhelmed their opponents. We’re very, very pleased to have you back, Mako.

Jamie George – 8
Like prop, like hooker; George was equally combative in defence during an ultra-physical, fierce showing from the 29-year-old. However, he actually surpassed Mako in terms of his work with ball-in-hand, racking up the metres and bulldozing across the gainline. If lineouts had been more accurate and George hadn’t conceded a penalty, he would have been a contender for Man of the Match.

Kyle Sinckler – 8
What a delightful running line Sinckler picked to scythe through the Aussies and crash home under the uprights. That level of power and brawn are commonplace in his game, though a crucial turnover in the second-half was a welcome surprise, too.

Maro Itoje – 7
As England’s chief lineout caller, the joy Michael Cheika’s men had in that area of the contest is partially Itoje’s fault. Of course, the Wallabies have several top-class stealers in their ranks, so it’s not as though the England star was the sole reason for his opponent’s success there. Otherwise, an industrious display from an integral player in the side.

Courtney Lawes – 7
Once again, some issues at the lineout are a small blot on this lock’s report card. Nevertheless, we saw some vintage Lawes tackling that prove he is the right man to partner Itoje in the second-row.

Tom Curry – 9 (MOTM)
How is this guy England’s most consistent performer at the tender age of 21? He’s a phenomenal athlete, as demonstrated by his relentless running, strong tackle-count, and superb carrying. Curry is the future of this team, and what a future it’s set to be.

Sam Underhill – 8
Underhill marginally outshone Curry with regards to his tackling numbers, but overall, the boy wonder wins. That’s no downer on the Bath flanker’s showing at Oita Bank Dome, with his repertoire of skills – both attacking and defensive – a significant factor in an ultimately-comfortable triumph for the Red Roses.

Billy Vunipola – 7
Because Billy is being targeted by every side he comes up against, he seems to be making less of an impact than he had in previous years. However, his role allows those around him to do what they do best. Without Billy, his teammates wouldn’t have found so much space to exploit, although the number eight would be well-advised to watch his discipline in the semi-final encounter with the All Blacks.

Ben Youngs – 6
A try went missing for Youngs as he knocked-on with the whitewash at his mercy. That was one of a number of errors from the scrum-half, who is yet to show his true colours in Japan. For the most part, he was solid on Saturday and offered a calming presence, but a few too many errors crept into his game.

Owen Farrell – 8
Farrell’s composure and ability to take the ball to the line were on full display as he put in a fabulous performance to tear through Australia. Whenever he had possession, the Wallaby backline looked troubled, and for good reason – Farrell was the man who linked it all together in a dominant England victory.

Jonny May – 8
A late injury was the only negative from May on the weekend. A devastating finisher, his ungodly pace secured his country’s first two tries of the match, whilst his defence was up to the test as Cheika’s side threatened to reel the English in after the break.

Manu Tuilagi – 7
Tuilagi faced a similar problem to Billy Vunipola in that the Australians focused much of their defensive game-plan on keeping him quiet – it didn’t really work. The giant centre punched into a gold wall all day, rarely breaking tackles, but invariably sucking in numbers and freeing up room for the speed merchants outside him.

Henry Slade – 7
There were a few faulty moments for Slade, such as Marika Koroibete’s score. On the other hand, we saw a stunning display of skill, vision, and poise for May’s second try of the contest, the Exeter Chiefs playmaker putting the ball on a plate for his teammate with a gorgeous grubber through.

Anthony Watson – 7
Good things come to those who wait. Watson had been afforded little opportunity with ball-in-hand, though his feet were still dazzling whenever a fellow England man found him with a bit of room to work with. Then, his crowning moment came in the dying embers of the match as the winger picked off a loose ball from the Australians to put the cherry on top for Jones.

Elliot Daly – 6
There was plenty of food for thought for Daly in the aftermath of the win. His knock-on led to Koroibete going over, with the Australian burning the full-back for pace on a couple of occasions. Aside from that, a very quiet outing for Daly that doesn’t inspire ahead of the All Blacks clash.


Joe Marler – 6
Marler had very little to write home about after coming on for a cameo with the victory already wrapped up. We already know his capabilities and the prop did his reputation no harm.

Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
I could write the exact same for Cowan-Dickie as I did for Marler…

Dan Cole – 6
… and for Cole, too.

George Kruis – 7
England’s defensive line was bolstered by the introduction of Kruis, who completed his tasks with efficiency and determination. A wonderful replacement for Jones to be able to bring on.

Lewis Ludlam – 7
A surprise selection for the World Cup has become one of the Red Roses’ most impressive ‘finishers’, as Jones labels them. Whenever he enters the field of the play, Ludlam offers grit, a high work-rate, and ruthless tackling.

Willi Heinz – 6
Heinz controlled the game and kept things tight in the handful of minutes he was afforded in Oita.

George Ford – 8
When Jones decided it was time to re-establish the Ford-Farrell axis, Cheika must have been thinking his team’s chance had gone. With the duo’s game-management, intelligence, ad variety of passing and kicking, the Australians were always going to struggle to claw back the deficit.

Jonathan Joseph – 5
Two missed tackle in just over five minutes of action is not the greatest outcome for Joseph. Hopefully, we get to see some more of his galloping runs and stellar footwork in later rounds.

By Ed Alexander

18 thoughts on “RWC2019: England Player Ratings Versus Australia

    1. Jonny May continues to deliver on the biggest stage of all. But how hard is it to put the correct team in the title…

      The good news is you probably won’t have Wales’ butt buddy reffing the match if you meet them lol.

      Peyper sent Vahaamahina off for striking Wales flanker Aaron Wainwright in the face.

      “A photograph then emerged on social media showing him posing with Welsh fans and playfully landing an elbow on to the head of one.” LMAO

      In a statement, the governing body said: “World Rugby can confirm that the match officials selection committee did not consider Jaco Peyper for selection this weekend.” LOL

      1. If you’re homophobic Bigglesworth why don’t you keep it to yrself new boy? Engaging yr top 2 inches before yr blarney might be more appropriate. They’re trying to kick overt prejudice out of sport these days in case you hadn’t heard. What clown gave you a thumbs up, or was it a ‘selfie’?

            1. There are somethings everyone should agree on well said guys.
              Owens is a good ref and regardless of your view about his sexuality that is all you should be judging him on.
              I don’t always see eye to eye with his decisions but he gets the big calls right, communicates well with the players and allows a free flowing attacking game which probably favours the AB’s slightly

  1. Can we have a re-group on the scoring system again, I think this will add some debating/talking on the scores given. Was it something like

    10 – world class, would walk into any team
    9 – exceptional peformance, point of difference in many areas.
    8 – very good, went above expecations at this level (already high). Noticeable contributions to the success of the team.
    7 – good performance, solid. Done their job effectvely.
    6 – Average performance, done what was expected in their role, few errors but generally no concerns.
    5 – below par and some areas to be concerned about. Contributed to other teams successful moments in the game.
    4 – a poor game, lucky if they keep their place for next outing.
    3 – Should have been taken off at half time.
    2/1 – rubbish.

    1. Your description for 10 is off. “Would walk into any team” We’re not talking about the capacity of the player, but their performance. I would have 10. as “Saved the match” and should only be typically given when the team would have clearly lost without his contributions in a solo effort. Like a David team beating a Goliath team or a team playing very badly but rescued by one player who performed incredibly. It’s hard to perform perfectly, and even harder when your team mates aren’t.

      1. Tosh Bigglesworth. Not for me to state on DMaul’s be1/2, but he never mentioned ‘capacity’ which is a subjective, not an objective word, anyway. By opining that only match savers are worth 10, you rule out everyone whom might otherwise have been deemed to have played a WC performance. Therefore, a team which soundly beats another cannot produce a 10?! Like when yr team went out? Is this some sort of peculiar ‘Irish’ logic?

  2. Never been fully convinced by Lawes at this level and yes, i know he’s a tackle machine but “the best partner for Itoje”? Come on. I thought our line out was a bit suspect against the Wallabies. I can see Kruis back in the starting XV for Saturday.
    Ludlam has surprised me (and Mark Wilson too). I think the back row looks pretty healthy for the future. Dombrandt, Ludlam the younger Curry, Willis, Turner, all hopefully now chomping at the bit to be a part of the England set up.

      1. It’s a good job we have so many potentials lined up. I would put money down that Curry and/or Underhill will not make the next WC. They play a style which doesn’t often allow a long career!

  3. Mmm. At the risk of raining on England’s parade again, marks seem reasonable enough I suppoe, however, doesn’t 34 % poession somewhat undermine these figures? Looking forward, won’t individuals need to up their collective game to improve possession %age?

  4. Low possession percentages aren’t generally a good thing, but they don’t have to be disastrous. I’ve said this before, but in 2018 NZ lost to SA with 78% and in 2016 beat Wal with 38%. Also Eng it seems have a strange anomaly of scoring less points as the percentage increases. And the Aus game was in some respects anomalous.
    Eng by and large exited the 22 with a kick, which hands back possession. Aus by and large tried to exit by running with the ball, so increasing possession.
    Looking forward, every single payer in both squads will be looking to improve their performance both individually and collectively. Personally I’m just so incredibly pleased that Eng are into the semi final. I’ll be disappointed if Eng lose but Sport is like art, it’s supposed to enhance our very short existence…World Cups don’t come around that often, semi finals against NZ even less so. I for one, will love every second, whatever happens…

  5. One addition to the match day team I’d make is Cokanasiga. Either from start or off bench in place of Watson. May and Cokanasiga would be a handful for anyone!

    1. I’ drop Daly, Move Watson to 15 and have Cokanasiga or Nowell on instead with whoever doesn’t start on the bench.

      1. They tried Watson at 15 the 6Ns before last. Was he entirely convincing? He missed an up and under on his own try line that lead to a try. Is he any better than Daly at catching the high stuff? Not sure I know the answer.

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