Sat 23 Feb 2019 | 09:52

Player Ratings: Grand Slam shattered

Player Ratings: Grand Slam shattered
Sat 23 Feb 2019 | 09:52
Player Ratings: Grand Slam shattered
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OPINION: After showing signs of real promise in the opening two rounds of the championship, England left Cardiff with their Grand Slam hopes shattered, as they fell to a 21-13 loss to Wales.

England’s ultra-effective kicking game from the matches against Ireland and France was found out and off the mark, leaving the visitors looking relatively toothless at the Principality Stadium, where their go-to option was repeatedly dealt with.

15 Elliot Daly5

The full-back was positionally solid for the most part in Cardiff, showing the benefits of playing the position for a few weeks in a row. He looked dangerous when he got his hands on the ball but did not create the scoring moments he did in the previous two matches of the championship. He was beaten in the air by Josh Adams for the pivotal, match-winning score.

14 Jack Nowell6

Nowell didn’t see too much ball on the wing and did go looking for extra involvements, but given the closeness of the encounter, not with the abandon he has done in previous games. He marshalled Wales’ Josh Adams well in defence and read play well as to when and when not to shoot.

13 Henry Slade – 7

A strong defensive showing from Slade, who was able to force knock-ons in the tackle with his clean technique, whilst a charge down, which he was able to recover in the same motion, was an example of his growing confidence in the jersey and his admirable ball-handling skills. As a carrier, he kept the ball in two hands and brought into play runners on both his inside and his outside.

12 Manu Tuilagi5

After a first half with little-to-no involvement, Tuilagi managed to find some opportunities as a carrier in the second. He slalomed his way through the Welsh defence for one particularly dangerous carry, but wasn’t quite able to turn it into a scoring opportunity.

11 Jonny May7

A quiet performance, by May’s standards, who was largely starved of ball out on the wing. He was effective in the air, winning all of his duels, but a lack of support meant that his tap-backs weren’t as influential as they’d proven to be in the first two games of the championship. He tackled and ushered Welsh players into touch well on the chase, which helped England develop some important momentum.

10 Owen Farrell – 5

Farrell looked slightly off his best early in Cardiff, but grew into the game after giving up an early charge down and throwing a forward pass. His tactical kicking improved as the game went on, although a kick out on the full in the second half starved England of momentum. Wales’ sussed out England’s kicking game, but it was still the go-to tactic for Farrell and the England back line.

9 Ben Youngs5

The scrum-half started slowly, but like Farrell, grew into the game somewhat. His early box-kicks were either too short or too long, but as he got into his groove, he began to find space with his kicking. He wasn’t able to generate tempo for England when they had front-foot ball, though.

1 Ben Moon6

A quieter attacking performance from the loosehead, who, outside of the contact area, couldn’t quite match the usual impact of Mako Vunipola. He made a couple of big tackles in England’s strong first half defensive showing, though. Neither side was really able to exert dominance at the scrum.

2 Jamie George6

A flawless performance at the lineout, with George nailing all four of his throws. He was a big contributor on defence, but wasn’t able to influence the game in attack as much, although that was in part due to Wales’ control of the possession.

3 Kyle Sinckler7

Sinckler went looking for work in the loose, regularly leading England’s defensive line and making physically-dominant tacklers on any Welsh carriers opting to pick and go or stood as one-out options. He, like a number of English forwards, was able to force turnovers with the power of his tackle. He was guilty of overplaying slightly in the first half, gifting an intercept to Josh Navidi, but he emptied the tank, before being replaced in the 57th minute.

4 Courtney Lawes7

The lock impressed, as usual, with the physicality he brought in the tackle. He made a number of dominant tackles, driving backs forwards and backs alike with his technique and ability to get low and drive through the carriers. He also forced the turnover that led to Tom Curry’s try and managed to cause disruption at the Welsh lineout.

5 George Kruis7

Kruis managed to steal an early Welsh lineout and was frequently the go-to option for George on England’s throws. He gave away one penalty for interfering with the Welsh jumper, but was able to semi-consistently generate pressure on opposition throws, including forcing further errors from Wales at the set-piece. He was another to bring suffocating line-speed.

6 Mark Wilson5

The flanker put in a shift clearing out at the contact area but in terms of overall impact, arguably fell short of the high standards he set in the first two games of the championship.

7 Tom Curry8

A very prominent performance from Curry, who stepped up as one of England’s primary ball-carrier. He showed good awareness with his pick and go to catch the Welsh defence unprepared and managed to cruise over for a try. His speed in defence allowed England to keep their width and not face overlaps, as well as managing to force turnovers from Welsh carriers with the power of his tackles. He blotted his copybook somewhat with a couple of offside penalties, but more than made up for that on the turnover differential with his tackling and jackaling.

8 Billy Vunipola6

Vunipola didn’t necessarily make the highlight reels, but again stood up with some of the less glamorous roles. He was a safe pair of hands fielding kicks, showed good line-speed stood further out from the rucks and picked up the slack with the pressure-relief carries when England were pinned back inside their own half.

Replacements

16 Luke Cowan-Dickien/a

Unused replacement.

17 Ellis Gengen/a

Came on too late to have an impact.

18 Harry Williams6

Williams helped deliver line-speed close to the ruck after replacing Sinckler. He made a number of efficient low chops in England’s second half defensive stands.

19 Joe Launchbury6

He took an important late lineout and brought his usual work rate in defence.

20 Brad Shieldsn/a

Came on too late to have an impact.

21 Dan Robsonn/a

Unused replacement.

22 George Fordn/a

Unused replacement.

23 Joe Cokanasigan/a

Came on too late to have an impact.

By Alex Shaw , Rugbypass

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Player Ratings: Grand Slam Shattered - England | Rugby365