Player Ratings: Too Arrogant?
OPINION: Paris played host to the latest edition of ‘Le Crunch’ on Sunday afternoon, with a rejuvenated French side running out 24-17 victors in what is one of the most emotionally-charged rivalries in international rugby.
England struggled to impose themselves physically or in attack throughout the game and the lack of incision in the latter, outside of two Jonny May solo efforts, will be particularly worrying for Eddie Jones and his side as they prepare for the Calcutta Cup in Scotland next week.
Alex Shaw rates England’s players.
- George Furbank – 5
The full-back did well defensively and aerially on debut, although he struggled to make the offensive impact he would have liked. On two occasions, he spilled passes from George Ford, the first of which was low and difficult to take, although the second the Northampton Saint was guilty of over-running.
- Jonny May – 7
Even England’s Mr Consistent struggled to impress against France in the first half. He missed a couple of tackles on the kick chase, stopped chasing back for Charles Ollivon’s first try and was unable to involve himself offensively for much of the game. He turned it around in the second half, however, as he scored two excellent solo tries and reignited England’s hopes of a win.
- Manu Tuilagi – 6
The centre carried physically twice early in the first half and looked to be set for a strong game in Paris, although he left the field with an injury shortly after making that impact.
- Owen Farrell – 4
An uncustomary quiet and ineffective showing from Farrell, whose positive attacking impact was limited and even included a couple of rare handling errors. He successfully connected with all three of his kicks, though.
- Elliot Daly – 4
Like May, it was a largely quiet performance from Daly. He was safe defensively and, for the most part, dealing with the high ball, although there was little he could to positively impact the game in attack. A booming kick that rolled out of the back of France’s 22 also denied England some momentum after May’s much-needed try.
- George Ford – 5
The fly-half’s kicking from hand radar seemed slightly off in Paris, as he tended to put too overkick and ask too much of chasers such as Maro Itoje and Sam Underhill. He was aggressive in defence, found a beautiful deep touch in the second half and had a couple of moments with the ball in hand, although it was not the commanding performance many expected of him.
- Ben Youngs – 4
It was a game to forget for Youngs, who struggled to impact the game positively in the loose. He overkicked England’s chase regularly, missed a tackle on Vincent Rattez that saw the wing scamper over for a try and his pass to Furbank, which should have ended with a score, was too low for the full-back to take comfortably and in stride.
- Joe Marler – 8
Marler was consistently impressive in Paris and took the game to the France’s debutant tighthead prop at the scrum. With England regularly overkicking their kick chase, too, Marler was frequently on hand to make a physical tackle on the French kick returner once he had made the initial chase of England miss, thanks to the time and space afforded by the kick.
- Jamie George – 6
After some early struggles, the hooker connected with nine of his 11 lineouts and was typically busy in attack and defence. The work rate was never in question, but he was unable to have the significant positive impact he usually does in the loose and the tight for England.
- Kyle Sinckler – 7
Sinckler went very well at the scrum on Sunday afternoon, although his impact in the loose was uncharacteristically quiet. He wasn’t able to replicate the impact usually provided by the Vunipola brothers and the opportunities to show off his impressive ball-handling were few and far between.
- Maro Itoje – 6
A real mixed bag of a performance from England’s talisman who was impactful at the lineout, which included four takes, one steal and pressure on the French throws, and in defence, as he forced two knock-ons in the carry. He was unable to exert the same influence offensively, though, as he coughed up a couple of penalties and wasn’t able to impose himself as a ball-carrier.
- Charlie Ewels – 5
The lock struggled to fill the boots of George Kruis and, one impressive lineout steal aside, didn’t provide the set-piece impact that was expected. He also spilled a ball in contact to end the first half and he will need to turn in improved performances moving forward if he is to pressure Kruis, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury for their spots in the squad.
- Courtney Lawes – 6
Lawes picked up the slack in terms of the quantity of ball-carrying with the Vunipola brothers missing, although he couldn’t quite replicate their incision and ability to get over the gain-line. He was strong on the fringes defensively, though, and was targeted successfully five times at the lineout by George.
- Sam Underhill – 6
A solid showing from the openside who was busy pouncing on loose balls, clearing out at the ruck in attack and offering himself as a ball-carrying option, although as with much of the England pack, his endeavour and work rate didn’t necessarily translate to execution and impact.
- Tom Curry – 5
Curry had his moments as a ball-carrier, although it was not the same standard of performance – as a No 8 – that England fans have become accustomed to seeing from Billy Vunipola. It included a knock-on and a couple of messy balls at the base of a scrum that was generally going very well for England.
- Luke Cowan-Dickie – 6
The Exeter Chief connected with his lineouts after arriving and brought a physical edge as a ball-carrier as England fought their way back into the game.
- Ellis Genge – 7
Genge set the tone with a big tackle on Romain Ntamack just moments after his arrival. The loosehead kept up England’s scrum advantage, too, and provided them with some much-needed energy.
- Will Stuart – 6
Limited opportunity to impact the game after coming on late.
- George Kruis – 6
Kruis had a couple of telling involvements after his introduction and will be unlucky if he does not return to the starting XV against Scotland.
- Lewis Ludlam – 6
Played with mobility and aggression after arriving, though chances to impact the game were limited.
- Willi Heinz – 6
Heinz provided much more zip and tempo to England and the team’s performance rose partly due to his introduction.
- Ollie Devoto – n/a
An unused replacement.
- Jonathan Joseph – 6
With France in complete control of the game for the most part, Joseph struggled to make an impact after replacing Tuilagi. He was unlucky not to have a try on a sharp inside line, which the French defence was penalised for being offside at, although England failed to capitalise on the ensuing scrum.
By Alex Shaw, Rugbypass