England Rugby: A Player By Player Review (Part 2 – The Backs)

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This Six Nations tournament so far for England has been a nail biter, we have scraped two wins from two games some critics would argue we weren’t entitled to win. However, despite the critics, England are on the route to a second Grand Slam victory with help from teamwork and individual brilliance. This is how the players, who have secured Eddie Jones’ 16 wins from 16 games. Now up, part 2, the backs.

9- Ben Youngs, 7/10: Whilst I prefer Danny Care at scrum half, I agree with Eddie Jones’ idea to start Ben Youngs and bring Care on later as Danny is excellent at injecting a much needed bit of pace and intensity towards the end of the game. However, Youngs’ initiative was displayed with his try against Wales, his experience was needed in that moment and he took full advantage. I don’t know if the long seasons are taking its toll on Ben though as his performances for Leicester haven’t been up to his usual standard and against Australia in the summer Youngs was an incredible force. I still think Youngs is a very dependable player, however he could greatly benefit from a little rest.

10- George Ford, 7/10: Ford’s performance against Wales was a lot more impressive than the game against France. He was clinical in his decisions when on attack and faced the challenge in defence when Wales targeted him. Against France he hadn’t seemed to have found his footing in the competition, but with the performance against Wales I think he will be crucial in England’s campaign.

11- Elliot Daly, 9/10: Both performances by the number 11 have been impressive. Against France he landed an incredible 50m kick, his defensive skills were displayed and his pace was clear. I believe though that Daly’s brilliance was clarified and emphasised against Wales. Although he had that shaky penalty kick, he redeemed himself with a superb try in the final minutes of the game. His pace and skill made sure that he finished the try off well despite Alex Cuthbert being hot on his tail and nearly tackling him. He has been developing and growing at Wasps this season and this is being displayed in England, such promise shown from such a young player.

12- Owen Farrell, 8/10: A little faltering against Wales but impressive against France. In the French game he had a good defensive presence and an almost perfect kicking score sheet. However, against Wales he was the defender that Liam Williams tricked and got past to score Wales’ first try and his kicking was imperfect. He was a good poster boy for the sport though in this game. Moriarty put a late tackle on Farrell that winded him quite badly and he could have raised it to the ref, instead he sorted himself out and kept the play going; a proper rugby gent.

13-  Jonathan Joseph, 6/10: Joseph’s footwork was impressive last six nations and now you hardly hear the commentator say his name. Not as impressed with him this season for England or Bath. He needs to step up his game. Solid in defence though.

14- Jack Nowell, 7/10: (Started against Wales) Fast paced Nowell was exactly what England needed going into Wales. Wales as a team are very hard hitting and Nowell cleverly steps round them and sees gaps in order to win those crucial breaks. A very good defensive and attacking player, I would not be surprised if he was starting again this week.

14- Jonny May, 6/10: (Started against France) a solid performance by May in the opener against France despite the yellow card. Jones didn’t start him against Wales as “May needs room to perform” and Wales don’t give you that space. However, he did come on in the latter stages of the game and put in a solid game.

15- Mike Brown, 6/10: Personally I would have liked to have seen Alex Goode in this position seeing his form for Saracens this year. I’m very shocked that Goode is not even in the substitutes but that’s another story! Mike has not put in an impressive performance as he used to do two or three years ago but he has been consistent in retrieving the ball when kicked up field by the opposition. What I do love about Mike is that he is confident enough to run with the ball and takes his chance rather than kicking it back down field and, despite not being the largest of players, he makes it over the gain line more often than not. This instils belief in the England team that even if the attack starts in their 22 they can still score and be threatening, as well as making him an unpredictable player when he has the ball often putting opposing teams on the back foot.

 

Subs:

Danny Care, 9/10: He’s injected pace and energy into the game when it is most needed in the last 10 minutes of the game, arguably one of the main reasons we have won both games so far.

Ben Te’o, 9/10: Crucial try against France won us the game, as an inexperienced player I have been surprised by Te’o’s performance, quite frankly he’s been playing better than some of the squads’ players with 50+ caps. I would like Jones to give him a little more game time.

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