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England player ratings vs Canada | 2021 Summer Tests

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)

Eddie Jones’ England wrapped up their two-Test summer series with an expected ten-try, 70-14 win over Canada, a team that Wales put ten tries and 68 points on last weekend in Cardiff the day before the English kicked off their July schedule with a seven-try, 43-29 win over the USA at Twickenham.


Jones managed to give a debut cap to a whopping twelve players in that outing and he included another four rookies – Dan Kelly, Adam Radwan, Harry Wells and Alex Dombrandt – for a Test debut against the Canadians, a selection where the inexperience was further evident in how six starters – Freddie Steward, Marcus Smith, Harry Randall, Jamie Blamire, Joe Heyes and skipper Lewis Ludlow – were only getting their second cap, with two more one-cappers lying in wait on the bench.

The England coach suggested on Thursday that it was often more difficult for newcomers on their second appearance as they have to quickly build themselves up to go again after experiencing the enormous high of a Test level debut.

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RugbyPass Fanzone on whether the Lions tour will be cancelled
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RugbyPass Fanzone on whether the Lions tour will be cancelled

Listening to Jones, it was clear to discern an exuberant pep in his step regarding the enthusiasm in camp with a mostly fresh group of players compared to his Six Nations squad. Injuries to players at training were a concern from the outside looking in, Ted Hill and Josh McNally the reported latest setbacks, but training hard with consequences has always been the Jones way.

The aim heading into this fixture was to generate a more consistent performance as England last Sunday were outscored 26-17 by the USA in the second half after having the game won by half-time when leading 26-3. Here, they again embarked on a first-half blitz, five tries within 23 minutes putting them 35-7 ahead in a period where Canada were not helped by a penalty try yellow card.

England were fortunate, though, that skipper Ludlow was only yellow-carded for clumsily connecting with his knee to the head of Jake Ilnicki and they made it to the break 42-14 clear before keeping the foot on the accelerator in a second-half where Radwan and Blamire wrapped up try hat-tricks and the exciting news came through that the immaculate Smith was getting called up by the Lions. Here are the England player ratings:


Back for second helpings after last weekend’s impressive maiden run but proceedings here didn’t see him involved all that much. Beaten on his outside for a first-half score trying to close the space with England a man down. Enjoyed a busier second half with some moments on the ball.

It was excellent versus the USA to finally see this speedster back in an England shirt and scoring a brace of tries after nearly two years out. The trick now was to repeat that influence. Started with an error that saw a pass elude him and go into touch but he illustrated his potent footwork on 20 minutes to make the corner and score. Repeated the dose three minutes later in a bruising fashion that flattened the Canadian out-half, Peter Nelson. Gave way on the hour to Joe Marchant.

The most experienced player in the line-up, as this was his 40th cap, and it showed in the confident way he carried himself. Was unlucky not to score on 27 minutes, the TMO ruling an in-goal knock-on near the dead-ball line.

12. DAN KELLY – 7
The ex-Ireland age-grade midfielder is now officially England’s following this debut. His ruck penalty concession gave Canada their in to build pressure for their tenth-minute try, but he soon demonstrated his direct running threat and enjoyed a neat offload in the tackle to Sam Underhill. This wasn’t a monster performance but there were some touches that suggested he potentially has much more to offer.


11. ADAM RADWAN – 9 
What Jones described as an extraordinary try for Newcastle last month tempted him into taking a punt on the unheralded 23-year-old and impressive training runs left the coach enthusing “he is quick, lightning-quick”. Just 15 minutes was all that was needed here to witness conclusive proof, gathering on the ten-metre line and blazing a trail to score. It was an astounding way to say hello to Test rugby. Excellent defence visible, too, on 37 minutes when chasing back to tidy and win a penalty. Sent huge ripples of excitement through the crowd when he attacked in the second half. Firstly, a play ended with him being put in at the corner by Dombrabndt. Then he caught a Dan Robson box kick and galloped all the way from his own half for his hat-trick on 62 minutes. England’s new Jonny May?

10. MARCUS SMITH – 9  
This is the fella capable of adding a vibrant new dimension to the England attack that stuttered in the Six Nations. A star in last weekend’s debut, he took his efforts onto new heights here with an entertaining bells and whistles display showcasing an array of passing, trickery and kickery. England were full of tries but it was his role in a non-try for Slade on 27 minutes, where he looped with Cokanasiga and then kicked ahead, that illuminated his ability. Word of his Lions call-up broke just minutes into the second half and a huge cheer greeted his exit on 65 minutes following an effort that demands Jones considers him as a starter in the big November games.

With the game generally now generating quicker ruck ball than in the spring, the scene was set for the scrum-half to again put last week’s man of the match pace and enthusiasm to great use in challenging the Canadian rearguard and he did, his slick passing helping to keep England’s tempo high. Played for 52 minutes, departing for Robson with the score at 56-14.

These are very interesting times in the loosehead’s career. This may have been his 30th cap but it was only his eleventh start and his audition to start more frequently as the No1 went really well. Gave up the scrum penalty that sparked the Canadian try off the resulting quick tap, but he soon ran an excellent line off a Smith pass in the creation of Cokanasiga’s score on 20 minutes. Another line off Smith was also seen when the winger scored again three minutes later and he reached the break with 46 metres gained from six carries and was also his team’s joint-highest first-period tackler with nine. On the scoresheet just six minutes into the second half, he exited on 57 minutes for Beno Obano with 65 metres for eleven carries (according to the RFU stats) and knowing he is very much a Rhino that has lost his Baby tag.

A try-scoring debut-maker off the bench last Sunday and quickly among the scorers here, touching down just a minute in off a lineout maul. It was his carry twelve minutes later that led to the penalty try and a Canadian yellow card for a collapsed maul. Good handling evident soon after when gathering a Randall clearance and he capped his opening half with a second try off a maul. Inevitably pounced for his hat-trick on 59 minutes off the back of another well-drilled maul just before being replaced by Curtis Langdon.

3. JOE HEYES – 6
It’s curious how Jones has trusted a player who doesn’t make all that many starts at Leicester due to Dan Cole but he scrummaged generally well and got about the place, putting in seven first-half tackles. Gave way on 47 minutes for Paul Hill, five years after he was last capped.

The debut-making lock is a hard-nosed operator and he quickly demonstrated his grit, marshalling an attacking maul perfectly for a score and then defending a maul sweetly near the England line to force the turnover. Missed a couple of tackles and gave up a couple of penalties but that is what happens when you play on the edge as he does. Lasted an hour before Callum Chick came on.

A curiosity in that this was his fourth successive start in four England games, making him the prime link between spring’s debacle and July’s rejuvenation outside of Genge’s involvement in all five Six Nations games. Similar to Wells, ruggedness is his calling card and it was no surprise to see him topping the tackle chart at the break with Genge, a tally he eventually finished in joint-first with Underhill on 14.

There is a lot to like about this hard as nails surprise Test skipper but some loose ends need tidying up if he is to feature as prominently when England reassemble with everyone available to them in autumn. Couldn’t get a low enough tackle in on his line to stop Canada’s early try and was blessed not to see red for the knee direct to the face of the Canadian tighthead, a clumsy action that could have had far more damaging ramifications than just the concession of a converted try. Thought he had hit back with a 55th-minute try, but his last act before Lewis Ludlam came on was ruled out by TMO.

Seemed to be revelling at a midweek media appearance in his status as an elder statesman in this particular England squad a few weeks shy of his 25th birthday. Won a statement breakdown penalty within seconds that set the tempo for a pack that collectively had its issues with the concession of eight first-half penalties before becoming way better disciplined.

A debut cap that has been a long time in the making given how he was one of the last players cut from the squad prior to the 2019 World Cup. Jones enthused on Thursday about the No8’s “unique running skills” but it was his power through contact that was initially noticeable. Finished the opening half with 16 metres off three carries, but showed his running skills with two early second-half carries, the second which put in Radwan to score.


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