Player Ratings: The era of the 'Wonderkid'
OPINION: England inflicted a fifth consecutive Six Nations defeat at Twickenham on fierce rivals Wales thanks to a gritty 23-19 success.
Paul Smith rates the England players
15. Freddie Steward – 6.5
Solid as ever at the back, the Leicester no.15 produced one remarkable kick which travelled 70 metres from the narrowest of angles. Got drawn slightly infield to create the space from which Wales opened their account.
14. Max Malins – 6
Worked very hard off the ball and chased kicks but found little space in which to threaten with ball in hand.
13. Elliot Daly – 6
Made a crucial defensive read to end Wales’ best first half attack with a big tackle. Twice had half chances but in truth posed little attacking threat.
12. Henry Slade – 7
Bounced off by former Exeter teammate Alex Cuthbert in the early stages but went on to show some nice touches including a kick which clinched a 50-22.
11. Jack Nowell – 6.5
Made the best possible start by pinching the opening kick off from Owen Watkin and went on to produce a typically industrious performance. Won’t enjoy seeing a replay of his missed tackle on Cuthbert but to balance this often out-jumped his much taller opponent under the high ball.
10. Marcus Smith – 8.5
By getting very flat England’s new poster boy asked loads of questions of the visitors’ defence and regularly released his runners into gaps. Missed a simple penalty in the opening quarter but otherwise produced an immaculate display from the tee that delivered 18 match-clinching points.
9. Harry Randall – 8
Overcooked a couple of early box kicks but soon made amends with a superbly weighted chip which Malins’ chase turned into an attacking five-metre lineout. Put tempo on the game at every opportunity posing plenty of problems for the visitors’ fringe defence.
1. Ellis Genge – 6.5
Plenty of question marks surround Genge’s scrummaging and again he never looked comfortable against Tomos Francis. He did however get through plenty of work with ball in hand.
2. Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
Carried hard and often and always in the thick of the breakdown action until he was forced from the field with a knee injury early in the second quarter.
3. Kyle Sinckler – 6
Found Wyn Jones a real handful on the Wales loose head. Worked hard in the loose but not as visible with ball in hand as usual.
4. Charlie Ewels – 6.5
Secure under Wales’ restarts, Ewels did a lot of the close-range carrying for his team and went very close to claiming the opening try midway through the first half.
5. Maro Itoje – 8
Made a highly visible start during which he twice made important interventions. Put the visitors’ lineout under tremendous pressure and worked hard in the loose as typified by the steal which finally allowed his team to clinch the spoils.
6. Courtney Lawes – 7
England’s returning skipper put in a typically hard-hitting display in both defence – where he was England’s top tackler with 14 – and attack.
7. Tom Curry – 6
Made a thumping hit on Basham to win his team a penalty which Smith translated into three points before leaving the fray at half-time.
8. Alex Dombrandt – 8.5
Opened up by winning a penalty when he got over the ball at the breakdown – a feat which he repeated in the second half. Will be irritated to have lost the ball in contact to Taine Basham when England had a good opportunity to attack but claimed a first Twickenham try courtesy of Wales’ lineout horror show and was England’s stand-out performer.
16. Jamie George – 6.5
Arrived in the 25th minute to put in a solid shift.
17. Joe Marler – 6
Saw ten minutes of action as Genge’s replacement during which he conceded a penalty in the tackle.
18. Will Stuart – 6.5
A second half replacement for Sinckler who helped his team win late scrum penalties.
19. Nick Isiekwe – 6
Took over from Ewels with 13 minutes remaining.
20. Sam Simmonds – 6
Played the second half as a replacement for Tom Curry and completed an impressive ten tackles.
21. Ben Youngs – 6.5
Moved ahead of Jason Leonard as England’s most-capped player when he arrived from the bench for his 115th cap in the 61st minute immediately after Wales’ second try.
22. George Ford – Unused
23. Joe Marchant – 6
Replaced Daly six minutes from time.
By Paul Smith, Rugbypass