Player Ratings: Disjointed
OPINION: England finished up their World Cup preparations on Friday evening, beating Italy 37-0 at St James’ Park in Newcastle.
Eddie Jones’ side signed off with a fairly disjointed performance, although that was largely to be expected with the number of changes they made for the fixture. Assuming there are not late injury concerns, the 31-man squad will now prepare to fly out to Japan on Sunday.
- Anthony Watson – 6.5
Straightened the line and squared up the defence well in attack, as well as supporting both Jamie George breaks. He had one spill on a high ball when he was caught deep, although his positioning and work at the back was reliable at all other times. His incision was rewarded with a try in the final minutes.
- Ruaridh McConnochie – 5.5
Opportunities were few and far between for McConnochie on his debut. He was reliable in the air, taking a tough contested catch, although he will have wished for more chances with ball in hand to showcase his ability.
- Joe Marchant – 7
Marchant flashed his post-World Cup ability with a couple of outside breaks and steps back inside against the grain. He was rewarded with a weaving solo try off the back of a sharp pass from Ben Youngs.
- Piers Francis – 5.5
Some nice catch-and-pass and catch-and-offload moments from Francis, although his opportunities were limited with Italy edging possession and territory in the first half. The centre made way for George Ford early in the second half.
- Jonny May – 8
An excellent outing from the wing, who was a constant thorn in Italy’s side with his kick chase work. He also consistently found space when there was little on offer, thanks to his footwork and acceleration.
- Owen Farrell – 7
A strong showing on the whole, with the fly-half missing just one of his eight kicks and defending his channel resolutely throughout. His gain line play was also effective, although he did kick out on the full once as well as being charged down. Masterful timing to set up Watson’s late score.
- Ben Youngs – 7
One errant kick aside, it was a much-improved performance from Youngs, after struggling against Ireland. His box-kicks were consistently on the money, either able to be competed for or finding space, and he seemed to be in synergy with May. Picked out runners well with his distribution, particularly in the second half.
- Billy Vunipola – 6
A solid outing from Vunipola who grew into the game and was comfortable offloading and keeping phases alive. Italy did a decent job of denying him the physical superiority he usually enjoys.
- Mark Wilson – 7
An extremely industrious performance from Wilson on his home turf. The flanker was physical on the gain line as both a tackler and a carrier and was seemingly ever-present in the defensive line. Also got through plenty of work clearing at the contact area.
- Tom Curry – 6
The blindside impressed with the physicality of tackling, repeatedly denying Italian carriers any sort of success on the gain line. He wasn’t quite able to have the influence on the attacking side of the ball that he had had in recent fixtures.
- Courtney Lawes – 8.5
An all-action performance from Lawes, who was the standout man in England’s pack. He was an eager carrier, regularly led the line in defence and was able to slow Italian ball at the breakdown. He was influential at the set-piece, too, taking four lineouts, creating a turnover at the maul, snagged three direct lineout steals and disrupted another.
- Joe Launchbury – 5.5
The lock wrecked one Italian maul but was unable to exert too much influence before leaving the pitch after 32 minutes. He was gingerly holding his back prior to departing and Jones will be hoping he hasn’t suffered a significant injury.
- Dan Cole – 6.5
Like Marler, Cole also made way after 32 minutes. In addition to his solid foundation at the scrum, the tighthead impressed with his counter-rucking, ensuring Italy had to commit plenty of players to secure the ball, as well as forcing a knock-on.
- Jamie George – 7
He connected on all three of his lineouts and was effective as a carrier in the wide channels, showing good awareness of his support and having soft hands to offload. One handling error aside, George went well in the north-east.
- Joe Marler – 5.5
The loosehead held his own in the scrum before making way for Ellis Genge after just 32 minutes. Put himself about in defence but wasn’t able to have too much attacking influence in his short appearance.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
The hooker unfortunately departed the game with less than 10 minutes to go, walking gingerly as he did. He was perfect at the lineout in his three throws before he exited.
- Ellis Genge – 6
He did cough up a couple of penalties at the scrum, but he his overall impact from the bench was a positive one. His carrying and work at the breakdown were particularly noticeable.
- Kyle Sinckler – 7.5
An impressive shift from Sinckler, who not only had the edge on his opposite number at the scrum, but also offered power and intelligence as a ball-carrier. Snaffled a turnover on a charged down kick and helped turn set-piece parity into an advantage for England.
- Charlie Ewels – 6
Ewels brought a largely positive impact at the set-piece, grabbing a line steal and proving a reliable target for Cowan-Dickie. He did cough up a penalty for coming in at the side of the maul, though.
- Matt Kvesic – 5.5
Kvesic made some strong tackles after coming on, but couldn’t quite bring the same attacking impact as some of his teammates.
- Willi Heinz – 5.5
Carried on from where Youngs’ left off, although England had comfortably secured the win at that point and had begun to take their foot off the gas.
- George Ford – 6
Looked sharp after arriving and the tandem of he and Farrell certainly looked more fluid than the one consisting of Farrell and Francis in the first half. Admittedly, the latter pairing did not have the front foot ball that Ford was given by the replacements in the tight five.
- Joe Cokanasiga – 6
Continued his trend of late to look for work close to the ruck, whether as a first receiver or on the pick and go. Italian struggled to deal with his power carrying.
By Alex Shaw , Rugbypass