PLAYER RATINGS: English dominance
OPINION: England and Eddie Jones’ 2019 redemption took another big step forward on Sunday as they cantered to a 44-8 victory over France at Twickenham in the Guinness Six Nations.
Le Crunch was a one-sided affair, as England sped into an early lead and didn’t take their foot off the gas pedal until around the 60th minute, when the result had become a foregone conclusion. They now prepare for a tense clash in Cardiff in two weeks’ time, with both they and Wales gunning for a Grand Slam in this year’s competition.
- Elliot Daly – 7
A bright start, spotting the space on the transition, weaving his way through the French defence and putting through a kick for Jonny Mayto chase and score his first try. Counter-attacked nicely on a couple of French kicks which outstretched their chase, but slipped out of the game a little as it went on and England took their foot off the gas.
- Chris Ashton – 7
The wing chased as effectively as Jack Nowell did a week before him, including a ball he was able to tap back for England to retain possession. A smart kick through set up May for his third try and he came close to opening his own account on a couple of occasions. England had so much joy going to the left wing that Ashton was relatively unused on the right.
- Henry Slade – 8
A strong aerial display from the outside centre, who took a number of contested balls, as well as winning back English kicks, including in the build-up to May’s third try. He took his try well, stepping back inside and beating the would-be tackler. He did get caught out shooting up trying to close down the play in the build-up to Damian Penaud’s opening try, but it was otherwise a solid defensive showing, as illustrated by his intercept in the second half that led to a penalty try.
- Manu Tuilagi – 7
A couple of handling and passing errors aside, Tuilagi went well as an attacking force. He straightened the line well, popped up on Owen Farrell’s shoulder a number of times and was valuable as a solo tackler, in particular his cover defence in the first half, which saved England from a probable French try.
- Jonny May – 9
Ripped off a first half hat-trick, two of which came from kicks in behind Penaud, whilst the other was from an Owen Farrell miss-pass, as he stepped inside of his opposite number. He chased energetically, too, helping making England’s kicking game a success and the one blemish on his game was being brushed off by Yoann Huget in the build-up to Penaud’s first half try. For the second week in a row, dominated the aerial contest.
- Owen Farrell – 8
The deft touches on the gain-lines, with pops, offloads and cutback passes, mixed with his array of wider and miss-passes, allowed Farrell to successfully orchestrate England’s win. His kicking game from hand was effective, constantly moving the French back three around and manipulating the space, whilst he also popped up with 17 points. Fully deserved his second half try.
- Ben Youngs – 7
Not quite the masterclass he put on in Dublin, with he and his chase just a little off that level of synergy, but he targeted Huget to good effect in the first half. A clever switch of play preceded May’s second try of the game, whilst his tempo and distribution was conducive to England’s success at Twickenham.
- Mako Vunipola – 8
A busy first half in the loose was further emphasised by a growing dominance at the set-piece, after some early parity between he and Demba Bamba. An apparent injury saw him leave the field early in the second half.
- Jamie George – 7
Just one lineout went astray for the hooker, with his other seven throws all going cleanly to their targets. His carrying was strong around the fringes and he was a mobile defender in the wider channels.
- Kyle Sinckler – 8
A trademark influential performance in the loose from Sinckler, who was another playmaker in the England XV. His soft hands and good distribution game allowed England to shift the point of contact effectively, whilst he came in at scrum-half and got the ball out quickly and accurately for Slade’s score late in the first half.
- Courtney Lawes – 9
A dominant, all-round performance that went a long way to filling the boots of Maro Itoje. The lock’s line-speed was excellent, he made dominant tackles and he was a force carrying, bringing consistent gain-line breaks. He was effective at the lineout, too, proving valuable on attack, as well as stealing two French throws and putting pressure on hooker Guilhem Guirado. His second half scything down of Mathieu Bastareaud was representative of his monumental performance.
- George Kruis – 6
Kruis carried strongly against France and offered himself as an attacking option at the lineout. He was busy around the fringes as a defender and contributed to quick attacking ball at the contact.
- Mark Wilson – 7
Another industrious display from Wilson, who was busy doing the less glamorous work at Twickenham. He was influential as a kick chaser, helped shepherd England’s back three in the kicking game and, just as he did in Dublin, went to work at the contact area, slowing down opposition ball.
- Tom Curry – 8
Not quite as clean a display as a week before in Dublin, with the flanker earning the ire of Nigel Owens on a few occasions, but he did bring impressive line-speed in defence, frequently hunting down France’s first receiver, as well as slowing down the ball at the contact area. Noticeably stepped up as a more prominent carrier.
- Billy Vunipola – 7
A second dominant tackling display in as many weeks for Vunipola, who was not required to put England on his back and carry them to victory due to the presence of so many other effective ball-carriers in the XV. He did pop up with a number of powerful punches through the French line, however.
Missed his first lineout after coming off the bench but followed it up with two successful throws and a strong defensive display.
- Ben Moon – 6
Contributed to a well-functioning set-piece after arriving but didn’t have too much opportunity to influence the game in the loose.
- Dan Cole – 6
Folded up Jefferson Poirot in his first scrum after replacing Sinckler and looked as if he hadn’t missed a beat in international rugby.
- Joe Launchbury – 6
Bounced back from a knock-on soon after arriving to deliver some powerful tackles in the loose, including soaking up French pressure around the fringes.
- Nathan Hughes – 6
Some good control at the base of the scrum and a couple of big tackles.
- Dan Robson – 6
An effective kick chase that won England a late penalty. A promising cameo.
- George Ford – 6
Didn’t have too much opportunity to influence the game, with England having won the game before he arrived and taken their foot off the gas. Chased back well to prevent a late French try.
- Jack Nowell – 6
Continued on from where he left off in Dublin, chasing effectively and harrying the French back three.
Watch: Scotland coach Gregor Townsend dissects the loss to Ireland on Saturday
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