Player Ratings: Redemption?
OPINION: England head coach Eddie Jones rang the changes following his side’s demoralising loss to France in their tournament opener and it paid off as they emerged 13-6 winners at Murrayfield against Scotland.
It was certainly a match for the purists, as driving rain and blustery gales forced both teams into an attritional battle of set-pieces and kicking games, with opportunities for ball-carriers to impress few and far between.
Alex Shaw rates the England players
- George Furbank – 6
The inexperienced fullback dealt well with the high balls that came his way and he chased well on a number of kicks from Owen Farrell and George Ford, where his first up tackling was accurate and efficient.
- Jonny May – 7
After spilling the ball whilst under pressure on the opening kick-off, May went well in testing conditions. He was a safe pair of hands in the aerial game, chased effectively on many of England’s numerous kicks and even popped up in the midfield as an attacking option.
- Jonathan Joseph – 6
In a game that was dominated by kicking at nine, 10 and 12, Joseph’s contribution was minimal, other than in the energy of his chase and the solid tackling and decision-making he made in defence.
- Owen Farrell – 8
Farrell’s return of three success on six kicks might not seem exemplary, although it was a testament to the conditions on show at Murrayfield. His kicking from hand was excellent and repeatedly put England in a strong position to defend and force errors out of Scotland, which was another area where the centre impressed after his poorer showing in Paris.
- Elliot Daly – 5
The wing’s opportunities were few and far between in a kick-heavy performance in Edinburgh, although kicking out on the full in the second half didn’t help his team. He chased kicks with energy and endeavour, although he wasn’t able to win back any kicks.
- George Ford – 4
Ford struggled to read the wind with his kicking game, including a snapped drop goal that drifted wide of the posts. He also knocked-on with a high ball and put his team into trouble with a wayward pass in the tackle inside his own 22.
- Willie Heinz – 6
A solid showing from Heinz, whose box-kicking was more contestable for his chasers than Ben Youngs’ had been in France. There was also a good tempo to his ability to deliver ball and he profited with a couple of incisive snipes. Lost his kicking radar a little in the second half, though.
- Mako Vunipola – 7
It was generally a positive return to the starting XV for Vunipola, whose strong ball carrying and work disrupting the maul were valuable additions for England. He wasn’t able to go after the Scottish scrum in the same way Joe Marler went after the French set-piece, but he held his own.
- Jamie George – 7
George connected on eight of his 10 lineouts at a blustery and unforgiving Murrayfield, which was an excellent return, given the conditions. His set-piece work laid a strong foundation for England and he was busy in the loose, particularly in defence.
- Kyle Sinckler – 7
The tighthead held up well at the scrum for the second week in a row and there seemed to be more dynamism to his ball-carrying and work clearing out than there had been in France.
- Maro Itoje – 8
Itoje forced two turnovers with the power of his tackling, stole Scottish lineouts and was a thorn in Scotland’s side at the contact area. He had a couple of forceful carries, too, and was particularly influential winning the collisions close to the ruck.
- George Kruis – 6
The impact of the lock at the lineout, both in attack and defence, was felt in Edinburgh. His physicality close to the ruck on both sides of the ball was also noticeable.
- Lewis Ludlam – 6
Ludlam didn’t provide the carrying that was expected of him, although that was due to how the game played out, with both teams eager to kick and defend rather than take possession. He made some solid tackles and was hard to move over the ball.
- Sam Underhill – 8
One of, if not England’s standout performer at Murrayfield. His tackling was incredibly physical and accurate, he cleaned up loose balls on the floor and exerted his influence at the breakdown and the maul.
- Tom Curry – 7
Curry was physics with his play against Scotland and was much more adept winning the collisions than he had been a week previously in Paris. He also showed better control of the ball at the base of the scrum, too.
- Tom Dunn – n/a
- Ellis Genge – 7
Genge added to England’s scrum advantage after arriving from the bench and scored the pivotal try in the 69th minute that proved pivotal to England winning the game.
- Will Stuart – n/a
- Joe Launchbury – n/a
Came on too late to have a real impact on the game.
- Courtney Lawes – 6
The lock’s power was felt after he replaced Ludlam, with his tackling denying Scotland the attacking consistency they needed to punish England.
- Ben Earl – 6
Earl came on and made a couple of physical tackles, although his opportunities were limited on what will still be a memorable debut for the back rower.
- Ben Youngs – 6
The scrum-half looked a little snappier than the laboured display in Paris and with Heinz’s kicking beginning to go awry in the second half, Youngs’ arrival was timely and important.
- Ollie Devoto – n/a
By Alex Shaw, Rugbypass