Eddie Jones’ rejigged England team eventually pulled out of sight after a defiant Samoan performance. Here are some of the winners and losers from today’s game in Twickenham.
1) Samoa’s English Based Players
TJ Ioane, Mota Matu’ and Ahsee Tuala to name a few led the way for Samoa this evening. Their experience playing in the premiership made them look a cut above their fellow country men with the English based players delivering 80 minute performances. Although Samoa have a number of players in the Top14, it was the England based group that looked like the complete players.
2) George Ford
The Leicester man was today’s Man of the Match as he orchestrated the English victory over Samoa with a cool and calm demeanor. Six from seven kicks is an acceptable return from the 24 year old who has been inconsistent from the tee during the series. Although Samoa failed to win any of their games during the Autumn period, their defiant performances meant they could potentially have caused an upset to this new look England team. Ford’s experience kept that from happening and went a long way to cementing his place at No.10 for England.
3) Rugby’s Camaraderie Spirit
The RFU’s decision to make a goodwill payment to a financially limp Samoan Rugby Union was terrific story during the buildup to this weekends fixture. Although World Rugby declared Samoan Rugby Union wasn’t bankrupt, the RFU decided to alleviate their financial woes. The performance of a number of their players today showed they would be sorely missed in the international game and the RFU’s decision to make a financial gesture reaffirmed Rugby’s good reputation.
The Harlequin scrum half had solid game but Young’s impact off the bench showed he’s the first choice halfback going forward. Care just didn’t do enough with his rare start in order to shake his bench position. Although more unpredictable than Young’s, Care showed he can manage and orchestrate his team round the field when called upon.
2) The Top14’s Skill Level
Although Fa’asalele was a try scorer, the overall contribution of Samoa’s French based players was disappointing. If Ioane and Tuala’s performances were an endorsement of the Aviva Premiership, then Perez and Fa’salele’s contribution undermined the Top14’s quality. Samoa would have hoped that their player’s time spent abroad would have brought on their skills however on the international stage, they failed to stand out.
Today’s game would have given Eddie Jones a valuable insight into England’s fringe squad players ahead of what looks to be a competitive Six Nations.