RUCK delivers our man-by-man ratings as England got off to a winning start against Fiji in the Rugby World Cup opener at Twickenham on Friday evening.
15. Mike Brown…9
Man of the match Brown was outstanding under the high ball and carried well when England was on the front foot, breaking through the Fijian line regularly. The fullback took his two tries superbly and nearly got the hat-trick as he led England from the back throughout.
14. Anthony Watson…5
Struggled in his physical battle with his opposing winger Nadolo and was found defencively vulnerable at times. He made some decent runs, but the majority of the time he failed to get much space and didn’t threaten to score at all.
13. Jonathan Joseph…7
The centre played an intelligent game and showed his tricky feet at times. In truth though he was rarely able to run at defenders and use his dangerous pace due to the Fijians hard-working defence.
12. Brad Barritt…5
Solid in defence but was limited when England was going forward. He rarely carried the ball and was also sucked into far too many unnecessary rucks.
11. Jonny May…6
Failed to make a significant impression on the game going forward but showed great strength in defence when defending his wing.
12. George Ford…7
He kicked confidently but failed to go on to trouble the Fiji defence with his running game. It was overall a steady and safe performance from the fly-half.
9. Ben Youngs…7
Winning his 50th cap, the scrum-half wasn’t quite at his best. He nevertheless kept the England team ticking over nicely before he was replaced in the second half.
1. Joe Marler…5
Replaced after 51 minutes the prop struggled in the scrum. Overall though he was decent enough in defence.
2. Tom Youngs…7
The British and Irish Lion put in a real shift with eight carries, some good line-out throwing and tough tackling. He somewhat held his own in the scrum, but there remains a lot of work in that area for England to do.
3. Dan Cole…5
Looked a little vulnerable at times but put in the big tackles when England needed him too. The scrums inconsistency, however, remains a major concern for England.
4. Geoff Parling…8
The second-row was replaced after a knock in the second half but once again put in another awesome performance for England. He called the set-piece intelligently and his physicality was clearly missing after he made way.
5. Courtney Lawes…7
Absorbed the pressure of the hard-hitting Fijians resolutely in an efficient performance whilst impressing yet again with his effective receiving at the lineout.
6. Tom Wood…6
Following his man of the match performance against Ireland a fortnight ago the flanker put in a moderately robust display. He yet failed to make the same impact going forward as last time out and was lucky to escape the bin for a neck grab.
7. Chris Robshaw…7
The Captain led the team superbly to the bonus point victory. He defended well and ran some good lines to trouble Fiji’s defence when England attacked.
8. Ben Morgan…6
Contributed well to England’s line speed and connected with his tackles but in truth it wasn’t the big Number 8’s finest outing in the England shirt.
Replacements: Rob Webber (4), Mako Vunipola (6), Kieran Brookes (4), Joe Launchbury(5), Billy Vunipola, Richard Wigglesworth (4), Owen Farrell (5), Sam Burgess (4)
Star Man: Nemani Nadolo…8
The man-mountain outleaped England wing Watson to score from a crossfield kick and from start to finish had the England defence on their toes. The winger was breaking tackles for fun and after such a performance was unlucky to be on the losing side.
Fiji: Metuisela Talebula (6); Waisea Nayacalevu (6), Vereniki Goneva (7), Gabiriele Lovobalavu (6), Nemani Nadolo (8); Ben Volavola (5), Nikola Matawalu (6); Campese Ma’afu (6), Sunia Koto (7), Manasa Saulo (6); Apisalome Ratuniyarawa (5), Leone Nakarawa (6); Dominiko Waqaniburotu (6), Akapusi Qera (7), Sakiusa Masi Matadigo (6).
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