Player Ratings: Building momentum
OPINION: Despite Australia’s excellent run of form in 2021 and an outbreak in camp, England came into this contest as heavy favourites.
Eddie Jones’ men didn’t so much as win it, as the Wallabies threw it away through ill-discipline. The game never really took off and neither did England, but a win is a win and the men in white will take it.
Ian Cameron rates the English players!
15. FREDDIE STEWARD – 8.5
With Anthony Watson injured, this was another opportunity for Steward to use his time to cement himself into the No.15 jersey and he’s doing just that. A brilliant in and out saw him cross the whitewash after just seven minutes. Looks to the manor born and one expects – as commentator Nick Mullins pointed out – that this is but the start of a lengthy England career.
14. MANU TUILAGI – 6.5
Starting on the wing, this Tuilagi iteration was billed as a leaner, faster athlete. Popped in the centre so often that one questioned how meaningful the number on his back was. Was questionable under the high ball but made up for it with some truly violent carries up the pitch. Not quite vintage Tuilagi but a pleasing performance.
13. HENRY SLADE – 6.5
Is Slade finally seems to be converting his Exeter Chiefs form to Test level? Kicked well from hand and defended astutely. Crabbed across, before shovelling an unsympathetic pass that maybe cost Jonny May a five-pointer in the first half, and did the same crab trick before knocking on just before the final whistle. Other than those blemishes a very decent outing.
12. OWEN FARRELL – 6
Bringing up the tonne, Farrell linked up well alongside his understudy at flyhalf, although the 20-year-old didn’t need much minding. Limped off with a ‘bang’ to the foot. Why does it feel like something still isn’t quite firing at the moment for Farrell?
11. JONNY MAY – 6
Never got the chance to open up and spent most of the game chasing and tackling Aussies into touch.
10. MARCUS SMITH – 8
Playing with Farrell outside him, there was a lot of pressure on Smith in what was effectively his first major Test in an England jersey, but you wouldn’t have known. Kicked well out of hand early on and showed slick hands to put Steward away. England look a different beast with Smith at the wheel.
9. BEN YOUNGS – 8
The veteran scrumhalf minded Smith well, taking the pressure off the young Harlequin with accurate box kicking and near immaculate decision-making.
1. BEVAN RODD – 6
A late call-up to starting XV for the isolated Ellis Genge, Rodd gave away a coach killer penalty to open his England account. Made life difficult for James Slipper, who was playing out of position on the tighthead. Plenty to improve on but Eddie has something to work with.
2. JAMIE GEORGE – 7.5
A large mammal-like charge up the pitch set the tone for a performance that was all guts and glory. Desperately unlucky not to score, having been foiled by the pesky Nic White. Hurt himself in the process. Replaced by Jamie Blamire after halftime.
3. KYLE SINCKLER – 6.5
Shipped a knock to the knee early but was part of a front row that just about held the upper hand over the Wallabies at scrum time. Several nice touches on the ball but a pretty quiet game by his standards.
4. MARO ITOJE – 7
50 caps have come around fast for the Itoje. Plenty of excellent contributions off the ball even if it this wasn’t box-office Itoje.
5. JONNY HILL – 7.5
Made himself useful around the pitch in the first half, but burst into life in the second, very nearly scoring a try from 20 metres out with five or six Wallabies hanging off him.
6. COURTNEY LAWES – 7
A sure-fire option for England at the line-out with George throwing, although his chemistry with replacement hooker Blamire need works. Tireless.
7. SAM UNDERHILL – 7
Carried hard and often in the trenches for modest returns. Went off for a HIA but returned for a second bite of the cherry.
8. TOM CURRY – 7
Industrious as ever and continues to carry competently, but you can’t help but feel this England back-row unit are missing a true backrow ball in hand bulldozer.
REPLACEMENTS – 5.5
Blamire had a bit of a nightmare at lineout time although he gobbled up a meat pie – his fourth in four games – when it was offered to him. Alex Dombrandt was a mixed bag during his two short cameos.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass