Player ratings: Back to earth with a bang
OPINION: After the highs of their win at Twickenham, England were brought back to earth with a hard-fought 6-13 loss to Wales at the Principality Stadium.
George North’s try towards the end of the first half was the difference in the match, although Eddie Jones will be relatively pleased with the uptick in performance from his side after the interval.
Alex Shaw rated all 23 of England’s players in Cardiff, as they went down to a resurgent Welsh side.
- Elliot Daly – 5.5
Tested in the air early by Wales, with the full-back grabbing one contested ball and coughing up another. Identified a nice mismatch on the counter-attack against Tomas Francis but wasn’t able to consistently hurt Wales as an attacking force. Brought reliable kicking relief from within the 22.
- Anthony Watson – 5.5
Pinged and yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on towards the end of the first half, which cost England as Wales went quickly and scored a try on Watson’s vacated wing. Dealt much better with the aerial contest in the second half and had a decent foray down the wing, supporting Jamie George’s break.
- Jonathan Joseph – 6
The Bath centre couldn’t quite find the space in Wales’ defence that he did last week, although his line-speed helped restrict the home side’s attack.
- Piers Francis – 6.5
After impressing in defence at Twickenham, Francis looked livelier as a carrier in Cardiff, having some joy cutting back against the grain. Flashes of what he could offer in place of Ben Te’o’s physical presence.
- Joe Cokanasiga – 5
The wing struggled with some of the aerial balls that came his way, missing one that should have been his and spilling a contested ball in the first half. He was busy off his wing, stepping up as a first receiver a number of times, although didn’t enjoy the carrying success he did a week before.
- George Ford – 5.5
Not quite the control with the boot Ford would have liked, including a kick out on the full with a cross-kick deep inside Wales’ territory. He was successful with both of his kicks at goal and made way for Manu Tuilagi at around the 60-minute mark.
- Willi Heinz – 6
The scrum-half showed good control early on with both the boot and tempo from the ruck. Passed more regularly from the ruck than he did a week before, although coughed up a turnover in Welsh territory before leaving the pitch for an HIA late in the first half.
- Ellis Genge – 5.5
Genge didn’t quite have the same scrum success he did a week previously and Wales starved England of possession in the first half, limiting his role as a ball-carrier. He was replaced by Joe Marler not long into the second half.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
Missed his first lineout but connected with the three following ones. He couldn’t quite have the attacking impact he would have wanted, but his efficiency and physicality in the tackle, with a low chopping technique, was influential for England.
- Dan Cole – 5.5
Strong scrum to start the game, although lost his bind repeatedly after that as the Welsh scrum came back into the game. Solid fringe defence.
- Joe Launchbury – 6
An industrious showing before being replaced by George Kruis. Helped England disrupt the Welsh maul and got through a lot of work close to the ruck.
- Maro Itoje – 6.5
The lock didn’t have the attacking influence he is capable of, although his defensive work was typically effective, not least so his second half intercept. Alongside Launchbury, he did a good job of disrupting Wales’ maul and he was physical and efficient in the tackle, even when chasing and hunting down Wales’ back three.
- Courtney Lawes – 6
Offered a reliable lineout target and profited repeatedly on the gain-line as a tackler. A frustrating spilt ball in the second half summed up the attacking influence he was able to have, though.
- Lewis Ludlam – 6.5
Missed an important clear-out early which handed possession back to Wales, before growing into the game, including ripping a ball in the contact. He got through plenty of work as part of England’s chop-heavy tackling approach and grabbed his second turnover with his work on the ground.
- Billy Vunipola – 7
Vunipola provided England with a relatively consistent source of gain-line success and was eager and precise with his offloads. Coughed up an unnecessary turnover running in high and being held up in a maul, although it was fairly isolated in another strong outing.
- Jamie George – 7.5
The hooker offered real impact off the bench, successfully connecting with all six of his lineouts, sparking a big blindside break and carrying effectively in a busy showing.
- Joe Marler – 6
Helped swing the tight scrum contest in England’s favour after his arrival and was physical around the fringes.
- Kyle Sinckler – 6
Added to England’s pack’s playmaking ability with soft hands to shift the point of contact. Tackled manfully, although put boot to ball when a potential overlap was on.
- George Kruis – 6
Put himself about, although with England having already had three locks on the pitch, didn’t offer something different as they attempted to take momentum away from Wales.
- Jack Singleton – n/a
Came on too late to have an impact.
- Ben Youngs – 6
His support of George’s break nearly brought a try and he looked lively, trying to take a couple of tap penalties, only to be called back by the referee.
- Owen Farrell – 6
Won a late turnover and had an incisive run to put England in position to grab a try, although they couldn’t finish the move.
- Manu Tuilagi – 6
Had a couple of physical tackles, although there was little opportunity for him to influence the game in attack.