Player Ratings: Farrell the General
OPINION: England extended their winning streak over Australia to seven games on Saturday, as the age-old rivals met in Oita and England booked their place in the Rugby World Cup semifinals.
Two tries for Jonny May, one for Kyle Sinckler and a flawless kicking display from Owen Farrell was enough for Eddie Jones’ side to secure a 40-16 victory and keep alive their dreams of success.
We have run the rule over all 23 of England’s players below.
15 Elliot Daly
Unfortunately, Daly couldn’t quite back up the well-rounded performance he put in against Argentina. He knocked on when under no pressure and misread and was beaten by Marika Koroibete’s run to the try line.
14 Anthony Watson
Watson’s elusive footwork was difficult for Koroibete to track and read and the Bath man got England out of a couple of sticky spots with it. He generally didn’t see too much space on the right wing, but he didn’t put a foot wrong all game. He grabbed a deserved try with his late interception.
13 Henry Slade
The outside centre had a highlight moment with his swooping interception and then excellent kick through for Jonny May’s first try, though he struggled in other areas. Twice he lost the ball in or prior to contact and a few of his missed tackles led to big gains for the Australian midfield, as well as the try minutes after half time.
12 Manu Tuilagi
A largely positive display from Tuilagi who was solid in defence, which included forcing a knock-on in the tackle, as well as repeatedly winning the collisions as a ball-carrier and kept England moving forward. He had plenty of joy as the primary option after England line-outs.
11 Jonny May
A clinical finishing performance from May who scored tries with his first two touches of the ball. He kept his depth and width well for the first, before getting the message across to Slade about where the kick needed to be for his second. Defended strongly, too.
10 Owen Farrell
Jones’ decision to rely solely on Farrell at the heart of his midfield was vindicated as the Saracen put in his best performance of the World Cup so far. He was solid defensively when run at by Australia, he made all eight of his kicks and his pass for Sinckler’s try was as incisive and pinpoint as you could hope to see.
9 Ben Youngs
Youngs was limited in terms of his impact from box-kicks and sniping runs, as England moved away from both of those strategies. He was able to distribute quickly and accurately, though, as England’s phase play looked as effective as it has so far in this Rugby World Cup.
1 Mako Vunipola
The loosehead came under some early pressure at the scrum before growing into the game as the first half went on. Vunipola was important defensively in the loose with his energy and defensive power, as Australia clocked up a significant possession advantage.
2 Jamie George
The line-out was efficient with George at the helm, as he successfully hit Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes seven times. His one stolen throw came when targeting Tom Curry at the front, although, he more than made up for that with his influence in the loose as a ball-carrier and stymied Australia with a maul turnover.
3 Kyle Sinckler
The scrum battle went back and forth between Sinckler and Scott Sio, with each enjoying their moments of success. His influence in the loose came to the fore with an excellent line to latch onto Farrell’s pass and cruise over for England’s third try. He also pilfered a turnover with Australia camped on England’s tryline.
4 Maro Itoje
A quiet outing by Itoje’s own high standards, although he called an effective line-out and was ever-present with in the defensive line with his line speed and efficient tackling.
5 Courtney Lawes
Lawes excelled on the defensive side of the ball for England. He put in several dominant tackles, all of which were low and legal, and repeatedly denied Australia momentum. He was the favoured target at the line-out, too, collecting four throws and laying a platform for Tuilagi to run at the Wallabies.
6 Tom Curry
A vital cog in England’s defence, Curry impressed with the physicality of his tackling and swooped for a pivotal turnover in the first half. He kept the ball in two hands and drew the last man as a ball-carrier, too, which allowed for the simple pass to send May away for the wing’s second try.
7 Sam Underhill
Underhill got through plenty of work in Australia’s possession-heavy first half and made a number of dominant low tackles that stopped the Wallabies in their tracks. He frequently led England’s kick chase and made first up tackles, too.
8 Billy Vunipola
An industrious display from Vunipola, though without his trademark effectiveness. He was pinged for a high tackle, was isolated and turned over on two occasions and couldn’t break the gain-line with his usual abandon.
16 Luke Cowan-Dickie
He was successful with his line-out after coming on and looked as though he might continue his run of tries off the back of the maul, only for Australia to collapse it illegally.
17 Joe Marler
The loosehead held up to Taniela Tupou, although there was little opportunity for him to impact the game too significantly.
18 Dan Cole
Cole turned the screw at the scrum after coming on and helped England see out the win in Oita.
19 George Kruis
The lock had a couple of strong carries and tackles, although the game was largely won by the time he came on.
20 Lewis Ludlam
Like Kruis, Ludlam put himself about defensively as England marched on towards the semifinals.
21 Willi Heinz
Came on too late to have a real impact on the game.
22 George Ford
Ford added some control with his kicking game as England strangled the life out of Australia late on.
23 Jonathan Joseph
Came on too late to have a real impact on the game.
By Alex Shaw, @RugbyPass