Player Ratings: Answers for Eddie
OPINION: England got their World Cup preparations underway at Twickenham on Sunday, as they beat Wales, 33-19.
There were some key questions for England still to answer ahead of Eddie Jones naming his 31-man squad for Japan on Monday and the Australian will be pleased with the performances of his charges, especially given the strength of the Welsh team that was brought to the capital.
Alex Shaw runs the rule over all 23 of England’s players below.
- Elliot Daly – 6
A quiet first half for Daly as England dominated possession, particularly in the first quarter, and denied him the opportunity to counter-attack. He will want his missed tackle on Gareth Davies back, although he linked the midfield and wings well in the times he did inject himself into the attacking line. Deserved man of the match solely for his audacious late drop goal.
- Joe Cokanasiga – 7
A bit of a mixed bag from Cokanasiga who was eager to look for work off of his wing and added to England’s power game around the fringes, coming into the game as a first receiver and pick and go option. On one loose Welsh kick he ran into traffic and was held up, coughing up the turnover as a result, whilst his first-up tackling on a couple of chases was inefficient, despite working hard to recover after. His physicality in attack was impressive.
- Jonathan Joseph – 8
Joseph was very influential early on, making telling contributions with all of his involvements, whether that was with precise passing and outside breaks in attack, or ripping the ball out of contact in defence. His defensive work, in general, was intelligent and effective throughout.
- Piers Francis – 7
If Francis’ role in the squad is to provide the Owen Farrell role from 2016 and 2017, he delivered at Twickenham. The Northampton inside centre put in a couple of thunderous tackles on defence and had soft hands to shift the point of contact in the midfield.
- Anthony Watson – 9
A strong showing from the Bath man who looked lively and sharp, despite missing most of last season with an injury. He was good in the aerial competitions, displayed effective footwork and power as a carrier and chased and covered very well without the ball. Like Cokanasiga, he looked hungry for work and came in off his wing numerous times.
- George Ford – 6
A flawless kicking display will have pleased Jones, who will know he can rely on Ford’s boot in Japan if necessary. His tactical kicking fell short of Farrell’s with a few that were considerably beyond his chasers, although his play with ball in hand was solid and he linked well with Francis.
- Willie Heinz – 7
A confident debut from Heinz, whose array and timing of his passes in attack was a contributor to an impressive England first half. He was caught for speed on the blindside of the scrum on a couple of occasions, although managed the game well aside from that.
- Ellis Genge – 8
The loosehead caught the eye early with a typical bullocking carry, although it was his ability to turn the screw on Tomas Francis as the game went on that was the real takeaway. He held up well against early pressure from the Welsh scrum, before helping England gain an ascendancy.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie – 7
The hooker swooped on an overthrown Welsh lineout to grab a try on his first international start and his carrying was effective, if not spectacular throughout. One of his lineouts went amiss and he coughed up an unnecessary offside penalty in the second half, although it was an encouraging display from a player that has previously been limited to a role as Jamie George’s deputy.
- Dan Cole – 7
The Leicester tighthead provided a solid platform at the scrum and was able to provide his team with a turnover, as he forced a knock-on in defence. A solid 53-minute performance from the veteran.
- Joe Launchbury – 6
Launchbury went well in the loose, linking play and offering himself as a carrier and an option in support. He was an effective target for Cowan-Dickie at the lineout, too.
- Charlie Ewels – 7
England’s locking quartet is established at this point, although Ewels took his chance to impress greedily. He was an effective counter-rucker, pressured around the fringes for a charge down and had the line-speed to fit into England’s aggressive defence. He was targeted at the lineout successfully, too, taking two throws in the game.
- Lewis Ludlam – 8
A very confident and composed debut from Ludlam, who contributed in a number of ways. He was a physical carrier close to the ruck, made a number of big tackles, including a notable one on Ross Moriarty, and was persistently hunting the scrumhalf and first receives with his line-speed.
- Tom Curry – 7
The flank, unfortunately, had to hobble off after 28 minutes, although he was one of, if not the most impressive player on the pitch until his departure. His work rate was excellent as he tackled powerfully on the gain-line, popped up as a carrying threat on some incisive lines and made an important interception with his line-speed and read in defence.
- Billy Vunipola – 7
A bright start saw Vunipola demonstrate his strength in the carry and his early try came with four Welsh players wrapped around him. His soft hands helped link a couple of English attacks, too, and he kept working hard throughout the game.
- Jack Singleton – n/a
Came on with less than a minute to play, although he did connect with his only lineout.
- Joe Marler – n/a
- Harry Williams – 6
Missed a costly tackle close to the England try line soon after coming on, although at scrum time he continued to turn the screw on Wales, proving to be a good combination with Genge.
- George Kruis – 6
Came on fairly late for Ewels, although immediately made his impact felt at the lineout.
- Courtney Lawes – 7
After replacing Curry early, Lawes impressed with his defensive work. The physicality of his scything tackles consistently repelled Wales’ power carriers and successfully switched momentum on a number of occasions. He also picked up a turnover at the breakdown, too.
- Ben Youngs – 6
Momentum had swung in Wales’ favour by the time Youngs replaced Heinz, which limited his ability to have the same offensive impact. That said, he provided pace in defence, particularly on the cover, which proved valuable.
- Joe Marchant – n/a
Came on with less than a minute to play.
- Manu Tuilagi – n/a
Offered impact after replacing Francis late on, including a powerful foray through two or three would-be Welsh tacklers.