RUCK delivers our player-by-player ratings as England slipped to a surprise defeat at the hands of Wales at Twickenham on Friday night.
15. Mike Brown – 8.
Followed up his opening-day performance with another stellar effort; full of running, full of ‘niggle’ and full-blooded as ever, but his impassioned efforts were cruelly in vain. England’s best player on the night.
14. Anthony Watson – 6.
Safe and reliable in possession on the rare occasions he got the ball, while being solid in defence. Did his job and deserved a try, but clinically exposed for the Welsh score.
13. Brad Barritt – 4.
‘Disappointing’ is a word which could sum up the centre’s performance on Friday. Offered little going forward and left the men either side of him with plenty to do in defence – penalised too often.
12. Sam Burgess – 8.
A shining light on a dark evening. Burgess is still raw, but his performance vindicated his selection; quickly forged an understanding with Farrell and repeatedly got England over the gainline. Though his offloading game wasn’t at its’ free-flowing best, he tackled everything that came his way and a notable hole was left when he was replaced.
11. Jonny May – 8.
Scorer of England’s only try, May got through a mountain of work and could have set up another. One of England’s brightest sparks in attack and can be pleased with his efforts in a rugged 80 minutes. One of those unfortunate to be on the losing side.
10. Owen Farrell – 8.
Answered those questioning his selection with aplomb. The fly half, son of Defence Coach, Andy, was cool under pressure and produced a faultless kicking performance, while standing up impressively in defence – his 40-metre drop goal was worthy of any stage.
9. Ben Youngs – 7.
Much-improved from his efforts against Fiji. A constant threat on the fringes, his clever blindside work in the build-up to May’s score was crucial. England may have enjoyed a better outcome had he not succumbed to injury early in the second half.
1. Joe Marler – 7.
Despite occasional penalties, the front-rower put in a phenomenal shift and firmly won his personal clash with Tomas Francis. Can be proud of his efforts.
2. Tom Youngs – 7.
His early line-outs raised concerns but improved as the game wore on. Often found himself with too much work to do when he received the ball but tackled everything that moved.
3. Dan Cole – 6.
Superb in the first half, giving England a solid scrum advantage, but was frustratingly found out in the second period where his performance dipped and the penalties began to rack up.
4. Geoff Parling – 6.
Impressive as ever in the line out but a heavy workload in defence seemed to sap his energy in attack – suffered a quiet evening overall.
5. Courtney Lawes – 5.
Produced some stunning hits in the first period but, crowd wowing aside, this was a rare quiet performance from the Northampton forward who was subbed through injury at the interval.
6. Tom Wood – 6.
Useful in the air and manful in defence alongside a number of meaty carries, but not as much of an influence as he would have liked to be at lock
7. Chris Robshaw – 5.
Put in his usual mammoth effort in defence but will face some serious questions regarding his decision making as captain. With Farrell kicking well, the decision to run rather than snatch a draw proved to be gut-wrenchingly costly.
8. Billy Vunipola – 8.
Stood up superbly in the first half and ran well with the ball, causing constant problems for the Welsh from the base of the scrum. His concession to injury proved to be a massive blow to the England cause.
16. Rob Webber – 5. Minimal impact.
17. Marko Vunipola – 6. Carried well.
18. Kieran Brooks – Limited time.
19. Joe Launchbury – 7. Solid in place of Lawes.
20. James Haskell – 5. Disappointingly quiet.
21. Richard Wigglesworth – 6. Replaced Youngs well.
22. George Ford – 5. Found it tough.
23. Alex Goode – Unused.
15. Liam Williams – 7.
After a slow start, the full back grew into the game. Positionally astute in defence while carrying a constant threat in attack.
14. George North – 6.
Rusty and quiet for the first half, a different beast in the second. Not his usual self overall but finished the game in exceptional fashion after a confidence-boosting burst.
13. Scott Williams – 7.
An energetic presence and his searing run almost set up a try before eventually laying the platform for a penalty goal. Saw a promising night cut short after suffering a concerning injury.
12. Jamie Roberts – 9.
An unsung hero for Wales. Burgess ruthlessly used him as a tackle bag during a brutal first period, but his ferocious appetite for action saw him admirably keep going back for more. Somehow still able to walk after an exhausting shift. Heroic and could have taken the Man of the Match award on another night.
11. Hallam Amos – 7.
Unable to unleash his full potential but remained a dangerous presence nonetheless. Another of the Wales squad to leave the field through injury.
10. Dan Biggar – 10.
The fly-half was quite simply magnificent. With eight goals from eight, his points haul was crucial, but his overall performance was nothing short of brilliant – when the chips were down for the visitors, he stood up and guided his battered and bruised teammates over the line. The undoubted Man of the Match.
9. Gareth Evans – 8.
His in-play kicking was not at its’ best, but he remained an able partner for the starring Biggar – read the play well to claim his side’s only try.
1. Gethin Jenkins – 6.
Durable and reliable in defence despite giving away numerous penalties. Perhaps fortunate to stay on the field and will be glad to see the back of French referee Jerome Garces.
2. Scott Baldwin – 5.
An underwhelming performance from the packman. Struggled in the line out and off colour in defence – Wales improved when he was replaced by Ken Owens.
3. Tomas Francis – 5.
Partly responsible for a poor start in the scrum by Wales and sensibly withdrawn. But the Yorkshire-born 23-year-old will be back and has much potential to fulfill.
4. Bradley Davies – 6.
A reliable corner of a winning pack. Davies did his job, caught the eye with one rampaging run down the left edge, but ‘steady’ would appropriately describe his night.
5. Alun Wyn Jones – 8.
Jones was a colossus throughout and rose to the occasion like few other players do. Produced a fine 80-minute defensive performance in the middle as his leadership qualities came to the fore.
6. Dan Lydiate – 8.
Tackled himself into the ground and proved to be a major part of this winning performance. Has improving to do but will be pleased with his efforts.
7. Sam Warburton – 7.
Tackled and tackled and tackled. Not up to his usual high standards, but an immense defensive effort from the Welsh skipper was the glue which kept his side together as the injuries piled up.
8. Taulupe Faletau – 7.
Showed his fine handling skills and equally impressive strength when called upon. Will have been keen to do more but improved after the break to help his side over the line.
16. Ken Owens – 7. Showed up well at hooker.
17. Aaron Jarvis – Unused.
18. Samson Lee – 8. Added beef to a flailing scrum.
19. Luke Charteris – 7. Key to the line out.
20. Justin Tipuric – 5. Limited time.
21. Lloyd Williams – 7. Neat kick set up Welsh try.
22. Rhys Priestland – 6. Solid late shift.
23. Alex Cuthbert – 6. Added physicality.