Player Ratings: Bereft of ideas
OPINION: England’s November Test series is being billed as a dress rehearsal for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
If it was a rehearsal of sorts than England fluffed their lines. The biggest problem for England is an attack bereft of ideas and flat-out failing to fire.
Here’s how we rated the England players.
15. Freddie Steward – 7.5
Remarkably secure in the wet. He may be the size of a blindside but he plays like a far smaller man. Got caught a little out of position by an admittedly fine pass for Los Pumas’ first 5-pointer. Not to blame here.
14. Jack Nowell – 5
The Exeter Chief has battled his way back into the contention but didn’t receive the ball in the first half. Tried to force his way into the match off the ball in the second, with plenty of kicks chased and a few telling carries made. He coughed up a costly fumble in the 73rd minute.
13. Manu Tuilagi – 7
A relatively svelt Tuilagi was on trucking duties. Put on a couple of wonderfully violent hits. England are well able to win collisions in midfield but for all that their attack remains more sledgehammer than rapier.
12. Owen Farrell – 6
Played the conditions well, choosing to put boot to ball and Test the Argentinian handling early doors, a strategy that paid dividends. His goalkicking was spot on but he has to be held to partly to account for the aforementioned blunt attack.
11. Joe Cokanasiga – 8
A rare, rare start for the 24-year-old, who will have been desperate to lay down a marker ahead of a Rugby World Cup year. Barging over for his side’s first try demonstrated that his raw power can still offer England so much. Made metres every time he touched the ball.
10. Marcus Smith – 5
Smith isn’t built for inclement weather and struggled to play his way into the game in the first 40. Grew into the game as the track dried up but was ultimately outplayed by Carreras.
9. Ben Youngs – 6
Very much a known quantity. Managed the game well before going off after 55 minutes.
1. Ellis Genge – 7.5
Brought a tonne of nasty prop energy and made the most of a few opportunities to cut loose. Gave as good as he got at loosehead and was dominating the scrums before being taken off after 59 minutes, a decision Eddie Jones may now be rueing.
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie – 5.5
His patter with Julian Montoya was an enjoyably feisty subplot to proceedings but he struggled to make a dent in a mean Pumas pack.
3. Kyle Sinckler – 7.5
Looked to make his presence felt with ball in hand and was repeatedly used at first receiver. Traded penalties at scrum time with Thomas Gallo in the first half before dominating in the second before being hauled off. Starting to find form again after disc problems over the summer.
4. Alex Coles – 7
A debutant with a point to prove. The early spill of a high ball was forgivable given the conditions and he got through a tonne of work, popping up in attack the odd time.
5. Jonny Hill – 6
Was a dominating presence in England’s lineout but he’s yet to rediscover the form that saw him picked for the British & Irish Lions.
6. Maro Itoje – 5
Drafted into the back row with the continuing absence of Courtney Lawes. The 28-year-old is a world-class lock but he just isn’t explosive enough for the back row.
7. Tom Curry – 5
This wasn’t vintage Curry by any stretch, the Sale Shark being overshadowed by Pablo Matera and co in the battle of the units.
8. Billy Vunipola – 5
Another man rebuilding his stock value in the face of heavy criticism. Ate his fair share of the hard yards and looks fitter. Couldn’t find much change in the Argie pack however.
17. Mako Vunipola – 4
England lost their scrum ascendancy when he came on.
18. Joe Heyes – 4
As with Vunipola, the scrum tanked when he came on.
22. Jack van Poortvliet – 8
Scored a much-needed try with his first touch of the ball literally seconds after coming on. That’s what you call an impact.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass