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England player ratings versus Tonga

By Alex Shaw
Manu Tuilagi was among the pick of the England performers in Sapporo. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Bigger challenges may await England, although Eddie Jones and his side will be content with their 35-3 win over Tonga on Saturday in their Rugby World Cup opener.


England grew into the game at the Sapporo Dome and despite not putting away Tonga in the final 20 minutes, there will be reasonable satisfaction heading into their short turnaround before they face the USA later this week. You can see RugbyPass’ exclusive access to Tonga’s preparations for the tournament here.

Check out our ratings of all 23 England players below.

  1. Elliot Daly6.5

A game that suited Daly’s skill set with the full-back coming under minimal pressure in the kicking game. Instead, he was able to operate as a playmaker in the midfield, launch a couple of slaloming counter-attacks and his draw and pass to Jonny May created Manu Tuilagi’s second try. Overran what should have been England’s fourth try of the game.

  1. Anthony Watson7

Watson ticked the reliability boxes, where he was strong in the air and chased England’s kicks effectively. His opportunities to run at space were fairly limited, however. His lengthy counter-attack with five minutes to go was one of the highlights of the game.

  1. Manu Tuilagi8

In an up and down first half for England, Tuilagi was the side’s shining light. He softened up the Tongan defence with a number of strong carries, the third of which saw him power over the try line. He scored his second supporting a May break.

  1. Owen Farrell7

Farrell impressed as a carrier on a couple of occasions, including an incisive counter-attack. His kicking was effective, both from hand and at the goal posts, whilst his defence was typically manful, including a rip in contact on a Tongan carrier.

  1. Jonny May6.5

A clinic in drawing men and making the simple pass. May executed his core skills very well, as was exemplified by his inside ball for Tuilagi’s second try. He was safe under the high ball whenever tested, too.

  1. George Ford6.5

After his tactical kicking looked slightly off early in the first half, it became a major strength of his play as the game went on. His quick-stepping in the tight impressed, as did his support of multiple breaks.

  1. Ben Youngs7

Generally made the right calls and had England playing at a tempo that suited their conditioning and not Tonga’s. His box-kicking was largely contestable and the decision to go himself on a tap penalty aside, it was a solid performance from the scrum-half.

  1. Joe Marler6.5

Marler’s physicality in the tackle helped take the early sting out of the Tongan attack and he was able to force a maul and turnover in the loose. He also held up well against the sheer weight and size of Ben Tameifuna at the scrum.

  1. Jamie George7.5

The hooker was flawless at the lineout, connecting with all 11 of his throws, the last of which saw him grab a try from a driving maul. A clean and effective performance from George, who was solid in the loose, without being overly busy.

  1. Kyle Sinckler6.5

Not the cleanest performance from Sinckler early on, who was involved in a couple of penalties, although his trademark playmaking and soft hands close to the ruck brought England plenty of carrying success. Scrummaged solidly to start, before beginning to go after his opposite number in the second half.

  1. Courtney Lawes7

Led the way with his line speed around the fringes and physical defence. He was influential on both sides of the lineout and had a couple of powerful carries and nice touches to bring others into play.

  1. Maro Itoje8.5

A gargantuan performance from the lock, who ruled the skies, winning five lineouts on England’s ball and securing steals at two Tongan lineouts. He also chipped in with two further turnovers of his own, as well as contributing to three more team turnovers that England won.

  1. Tom Curry7

An early drop when under no pressure was an ignominious start, although the flanker made up for it with his work on the kick chase and by forcing a turnover at the breakdown. He secured another valuable turnover at a Tongan maul in the second half.

  1. Sam Underhill6.5

The openside was frequently on hand as a support runner and was unlucky to be denied a try after latching on to one of Tuilagi’s breaks. He and Curry shared the workload at the contact area, frequently the first men in slowing down Tongan ball. Like Curry, blotted his copybook with an unpressured knock-on.

  1. Billy Vunipola7

The No8 forced a maul turnover early and looked set for a big game, although a hammering Tongan tackle midway through the second half seemed to slam the brakes on, somewhat. He was still effective in the tight and helped deliver England front-foot ball, although not as regularly used as he is often is.


  1. Luke Cowan-Dickie6.5

The lineout kept ticking along after Cowan-Dickie’s arrival and he was on hand to support Jonathan Joseph’s break and secure the bonus point for England.


  1. Ellis Genge5.5

The loosehead came under a bit of pressure at the scrum and spilled a pop pass from George Kruis.

  1. Dan Cole6

The scrum became a bit of a mess once both teams went to their bench, minimising the impact Cole was able to have.

  1. George Kruis6.5

The lock became England’s favoured lineout target after arriving and injected some impetus as a ball-carrier and at the maul.

  1. Lewis Ludlam6

The flanker was a physical carrier and tackler after coming on and Jones trusted him on the openside, keeping Curry on the blindside.

  1. Willi Heinz6

Carried on where Youngs left off and kept the tempo up for England, who were able to put Tonga away and secure the bonus point.

  1. Henry Slade6

Came on at full-back and continued Daly’s counter-attacking incision and kicking option from deep

  1. Jonathan Joseph6.5

The centre looked lively after coming on. He nearly set up Watson for the bonus point, before making the break and then successfully teeing up Cowan-Dickie for the fourth try.

Watch: RugbyPass exclusive – Tonga: Road to Japan

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