Home Rugby England Playing Ratings V Australia – In Depth

England Playing Ratings V Australia – In Depth

With England’s final victory of 2016 proving to be a classic game of two halves, we rate each of the players for their first and second half performances.

1) Mako Vunipola

First half: Not given the chance to show off his running game in the first half, but solid at the scrum and powerful in defence. 6

Second half: Vunipola began to show what he can offer in the loose as England got on top of Australia. The Saracens man also started to put his opposite number under considerable pressure at scrum time as well. 7

England v Australia - Old Mutual Wealth Series

2) Dylan Hartley

First half: Bad mistake at the scrum in the early stages gifted Australia one against the head and ultimately a try, but made up for his error by preventing Kuridrani from scoring in tandem with centre Joseph. 5

Second half: With the impact Jamie George now brings from the bench, Hartley is under pressure for his place – but his leadership skills are unquestionable. The future of the hooker position and the captaincy could well go on to define Eddie Jones’ tenure. 5

3) Dan Cole

First half: Solid enough at the scrum after all the media controversy during the week. Cole does his job well, but England will need more going forward. 5

Second half: Started to show his form of old at the scrum and anchored the pack well, but with pressure coming from the improving Kyle Sinckler Cole could see himself demoted to the bench come the Six Nations. 6

4) Courtney Lawes

First half: How Northampton Saints are missing their hulking second row! Lawes is in the form of his life so far and it is all credit to the England coaches. His work at the set piece and in defence helped to keep his team in the game in the first half. 8

Second half: More fantastic carries from the second row who also led the lineout well; a lovely steal in the final half hour continued to put the Australians under pressure. A towering presence throughout. 9

England v Australia - Old Mutual Wealth Series

5) George Kruis

First half: An absolute beast in defence at times, Kruis will be disappointed with how he was driven back for what could have been a second Wallabies score. The Saracens lock was also guilty of trying to force passes in the first half, but generally combined well with Lawes in arguably England’s third choice second row pairing. 6

Second half: Still finding his way back into fitness and form after a long injury lay off, Kruis continued to put in an excellent defensive performance and grew into the game along with his team mates. 7

6) Chris Robshaw

First half: His usual omnipresent self on the pitch, Robshaw was a crucial cog in England’s defence – although in the first half he wasn’t quite as dominant against an impressive Wallabies back row as he has been in the trio of games previously. 7

Second half: Combining well with Tom Wood, it’s no coincidence that Pocock and Hooper couldn’t get a look in at the breakdown for most of the second half. 8

England v Australia - Old Mutual Wealth Series

7) Tom Wood

First half: You can never fault Wood’s work rate, he is constantly looking for opportunities and like Robshaw helped to keep his team in the game for the first 30 minutes, even if he did give away an unnecessary penalty. He will now be a genuine challenger to James Haskell once the Wasps man returns from injury. 6

Second half: Set the tone for the second half with an important turnover early on. A lovely break could have seen Youngs away as England began to get a hold on the game if not for a disappointing pass. Like so many players in this squad, Wood has thrived on his involvement with the current coaching set-up. 7

8) Nathan Hughes

First half: Hughes’ first England start was solid in the initial 40 minutes with some good breaks and an excellent work rate in defence. Hughes is some way off the quality of Billy Vunipola, but a very useful back up indeed. 8

Second half: Continued to grow into the game and showed his power by fending off several Wallabies tackles. Hughes was very much the focal point of England’s attack in the second 40 minutes. 8

England v Australia - Old Mutual Wealth Series

9) Ben Youngs

First half: Youngs has taken his box kicking up a notch this autumn and as a result England’s kick chase has improved, but his passing was at times sloppy and caused England problems in the first half. 6

Second half: Will be disappointed to have dropped the ball when Wood made his break, although it was a pretty poor pass from the openside. However, Youngs’ quick-thinking, reminiscent of Matt Dawson during the 1997 Lions tour, helped England to a brilliant score. 7

10) George Ford

First half: Looked anxious initially and a poor knock on didn’t help his team, but Ford’s lovely break and subsequent kick up field could have seen the chasing Yarde score. The media magnifying glass will focus on his mistakes (something he will need to cut out to ever be considered a genuine world class talent), but Ford brings a precision to England’s attack when they can build phases together. 6

Second half: With England beginning to gain some much needed territory and possession, Ford was able to showcase his passing abilities and gave Joseph enough time to set up Yarde’s try that put England in front once more. With a dominant pack up front Ford is lethal in attack, although hardly Wilkinsonesque in his kicking ability. It was very telling that the men in white opted for the corner rather than the penalty in the last ten minutes. 8

England v Australia - Old Mutual Wealth Series

11) Jonny May

First half: A sensible and determined effort in the first half when he rarely saw the ball, the Gloucester winger is showing a growing maturity in his game. 6

Second half: Showed good footwork and power for his break as England’s attack was gaining fluidity. His crabbing sideways runs of the past seem to be no more. May’s crunching tackle from the restart after Kepu had scored secured his team an absolutely crucial penalty – his kick chase game is now one of the key parts of England’s game. 7

12) Owen Farrell

First half: Abrasive as always, but almost conceded a try early on. The Saracens fly-half also missed some tackles in the first half, somewhat uncharacteristically of him. However, Farrell’s later kick through was pinpoint perfect and set up Joseph nicely for the first try. 6

Second half: Farrell’s place kicking – much improved from last week – was essential in this game. Farrell made a lovely break after a blatant forward pass from Youngs that the referee missed and generally put in a good shift in defence. 7

13) Jonathan Joseph

First half: It says an awful lot about England’s growing depth that a player of Joseph’s quality couldn’t get in the starting line up three weeks ago. He is the lynchpin of England’s defence and was superb in preventing the Wallabies scoring on several occasions. His pace and running lines meant he pounced once more for the type of opportunistic try that is becoming the Bath centre’s trademark score to put England ahead for the first time. With performances like these you begin to understand why Jones moved Daly to the wing. 9

Second half: A beautiful kick set up Marland Yarde for his score early in the second half, and Joseph is quickly becoming the world class player he always had the potential to be. A missed tackle on Folau illustrated just how important the player is to England’s defence.  Joseph’s ability to read the game, however, made a fool of Pocock as the centre ran in for the score that sealed the game for his country. 9

14) Marland Yarde

First half: Yarde was picked ahead of in-form Rokoduguni for his defensive solidity, but looked ill-at-ease at times in the first half. A nice tap back from an excellent kick chase was one of Yarde’s better moments. 5

Second half: Did just enough to score his try, but it could so easily have been a knock on. Yarde will surely be out of the equation once Watson, Nowell and Daly all return. 5

15) Mike Brown

First half: A fantastic early turnover, but poor handling almost resulted in an early Australian try. Such was the intensity of the Wallabies’ game in the early stages that Brown was stifled every time he received the ball. 5

Second half: A nice half break put his team on the front foot and Brown found himself with a little more space and ball than  the first half. 6

Bench:

Jamie George

Brings a tenacity to England’s attack that Hartley just cannot provide any more and must surely get a start for his team during the early rounds of the Six Nations. 8

Joe Marler

Clearly desperate to claim back his old loosehead jersey from Vunipola, Marler caused Australia problems at the scrum but will be furious with himself for the missed tackle on Kepu that led to his try, but some nice hands were shown in the last 20. 7

Kyle Sinckler

A good 20 minutes from the Harlequins tighthead who is quickly learning the dark arts of test rugby scrummaging. 7

Charlie Ewels

It’s always going to be hard to impress after following on from Kruis, but Ewels is quietly growing into test rugby. 5

Teimana Harrison

A quiet but determined effort from the Northampton back rower. 5

England v Australia - Old Mutual Wealth Series

Danny Care

A rather speculative drop goal effort wasn’t the best start to his appearance off the bench, but a livewire as usual. His quick distribution brings a crispness to England’s attacking game. 7

Ben Te’o

Combined well with Ford and offers the sort of crash ball centre that may complement the Bath fly half’s game better. He brought a power game against a tiring and disheartened Australian side in the last ten minutes. 7

Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena

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