Player Ratings: Breaking French hearts
OPINION: Le Crunch found two teams on the opposite side of the Six Nations momentum charts.
England played the party poopers in what was easily the most impressive game of their campaign to date.
Ian Cameron gives us his England player ratings.
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS:
15. MAX MALINS – 6.5
Antoine Dupont’s early try was the worst possible start for Malins and a desperately wonky pass to Watson a few minutes later won’t have helped his confidence, but he booted his way into the game. Was left in no man’s land for Penaud try thanks to May but a promising performance.
14. ANTHONY WATSON – 8
Looked fast, strong and eager for work. Broke tackles left, right and centre and has given his B&I Lions chances a huge shot in the arm. A 50th cap to remember for the Bath strike runner.
13. HENRY SLADE – 5
A mixed bag for Slade, with question marks still lingering around his defence while on England duty. The Exeter centre fell off roughly 50 percent of all his tackle attempts, a stat that doesn’t do justice to the numerous big defensive plays he was involved in but is unflattering nonetheless.
12. OWEN FARRELL – 7.5
Harried the French with a vigour not seen yet in this tournament. Having Ford inside him allowed him more freedom to press in defence and get in French faces. His critics will hate it, but this was an impressive showing.
11. JONNY MAY – 5
Needlessly bit in for Penaud’s try when Farrell had Jailbert covered. The ‘head-less chicken’ broken field running that often works so well for May didn’t quite come off here.
10. GEORGE FORD – 7
England wanted to play with pace and Ford helped bring a manic pace to proceedings, in the first half especially.
9. BEN YOUNGS – 7
The centurion looked very sharp and was as compelling a force in England’s attack as any man in white.
1. MAKO VUNIPOLA – 5
Had his hands full with Montpellier tighthead Muhammed Hauous, with the pair trading penalties, although referee Andrew Brace started to favour the Englishman before Hauous got the shepherd’s crook. Uncharacteristically turned over on more than one occasion. A game to forget.
2. LUKE COWAN-DICKIE – 6
A rare start for LCD, the Exeter Chief will have been eager to put in a big performance off the back fine Premiership form. Threw a dodgy dart or two and conceded a couple of penalties, but carried competently when asked. Not great, not terrible.
3. KYLE SINCKLER – 7
The Bristol man got into France as the game wore on. Relatively well contained in the loose by the French, who remorselessly targeted England’s primary carriers.
4. MARO ITOJE – 8
Headlines around his discipline didn’t cost Itoje a thought – the second row was his usual, ebullient self and his match-winning try topped off a fine 80 minutes. Don’t care who you are, he’s a nightmare to play against.
5. CHARLIE EWELS – 6
He has his detractors and this performance won’t necessarily have quietened them. Did his job, but none of your fancy stuff.
6. MARK WILSON – 7
Like a grizzled old Cumbrian bouncer on a Saturday night, Wilson has the look of a man who has seen it all before. The tonne of unglamorous work the Newcastle man gets through is lost on many, and this was a particular tireless shift.
7. TOM CURRY – 8
All guile and industry from the Sale Shark, who England are now heavily relying on for forward-based go-forward ball. England’s brightest loosie this campaign.
8. BILLY VUNIPOLA – 6.5
An improvement, but he’s still not quite right yet and it can’t all be put down to rustiness. Yes, he carried plenty of times, but he just isn’t quite winning the collisions with the same frequency we had come to expect from the hulking Saracen.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass