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England player ratings vs Fiji | Rugby World Cup 2023

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Michael Steele/World Rugby via Getty Images)

England player ratings live from Stade Velodrome: Steve Borthwick and co insisted in the lead-up to this Rugby World Cup quarter-final they were a much-improved team from the side beaten 22-30 seven weeks ago at Twickenham by Fiji in a Summer Nations Series encounter.

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In the end, they were ultimately proven right, sealing passage to a semi-final versus South Africa next Saturday night in Paris. However, their 30-24 victory wasn’t without a scare.

England surrendered a five-point interval lead on that August 26 afternoon and here, after being a well-deserved 11 points ahead at the break after tries from Manu Tuilagi and Joe Marchant helped them to go 21-10 up, they found themselves tied at 24-all on 68 minutes after the concession of a second converted try in a four-minute spell.

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Fair dues to them, though, for their reaction. Skipper Owen Farrell dropped a goal and added a penalty to have his team six points up but six minutes of added time pressure needed to be absorbed before a Courtney Lawes penalty turnover sealed the deal.

As crazy as it might sound on a weekend where the more fancied Wales and Ireland were sent packing, Borthwick and co are heading to Paris and the semi-finals. Here are the England player ratings:

Match Summary

5
Penalty Goals
1
2
Tries
3
1
Conversions
3
1
Drop Goals
0
95
Carries
133
3
Line Breaks
8
12
Turnovers Lost
14
5
Turnovers Won
7

15. Marcus Smith – 6.5
Picked for just his second start in the full-back position, he worked well with some early ball but got caught on a run from inside his own half with England 8-0 up and that turnover resulted in a missed Fijian shot at the posts. Soon took a smack to the head from the yellow-carded Vinaya Habosi on a carry in the lead-up to the Marchant try. Returned to resume playing a very capable part in the win despite the need for further on-pitch running repairs.

14. Jonny May – 6
Wasn’t noticed much in the opening half until his pressure resulted in the lineout that helped give England the territory and a subsequent penalty for their 21-10 interval lead. Another chase-down was also crucial to England’s opening second-half penalty unselfish work he must be commended for. Exited on 65 minutes.

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13. Joe Marchant – 7.5
You’d never have imagined in the spring, the Stade Francais midfielder would be playing such an important part in his team’s World Cup progress, but he is and he deserves great kudos. Hit a seventh-minute road bump when penalised for holding on after Mitchell tapped a quick scrum free, but amply redeemed himself with neat footwork to score on 23 minutes having made the initial burst in a multiple-phase move when breaking on halfway off a Ben Earl pop. There were a couple of missed tackle but otherwise excellent.

12. Manu Tuilagi – 7.5
His burst got England a breakdown penalty in front of the posts for an 11th-minute lead and he then crashed through the cover a few minutes later for the opening try. Was suckered flat-footed for the Viliame Mata try, but his tackle count was in double figures in a match where he unusually lasted the full duration.

11. Elliot Daly – 6
Recalled to the team, it was his illegally blocked kick chase that got England into the 22 for their opening try. Then had a short spell at full-back when Smith temporarily went. In the second period, his highlight was a mazy early run that left defenders flailing.

10. Owen Farrell – 8
Having won the out-half selection debate versus George Ford, he wound up with the sponsor’s player of the match award despite the nervous moment of a TMO review of a late knock-on that resulted in a Fiji penalty but no yellow card. Led the attack well, with reverse passing a positive feature. Accounted for 20 of his team’s points, 17 off the kicking tee and the 72nd-minute drop goal that got England back into the lead they determinedly held on to.

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9. Alex Mitchell – 7
Steered away from the restricted all-kicking game he had been playing in the pool stages, with much more running evident and that helped get England into their comfortable lead before things went south following his 59th-minute substitution for Danny Care.

1. Ellis Genge – 7.5
Repeated marginal carries in the opening period were important in terms of establishing momentum in the tight. Had one awkward moment when penalised in a shirt-tugging tussle in the second half, but this was his best 61 minutes of the tournament.

22m Entries

Avg. Points Scored
2.4
10
Entries
Avg. Points Scored
3
7
Entries

2. Jamie George – 8
Serviced a smart lineout efficiently, ironing out last weekend’s kinks, he was one of England’s tackle kings and he again went above and beyond in playing the entire game.

3. Dan Cole – 7
Cheered by the scrum penalty that gave England the shot to go 18-10 ahead, he played 59 minutes and did a pile of typical Dan Cole things in getting his team into the 24-10 lead they should be been better in protecting.

4. Maro Itoje – 7.5
An intercept and a forceful hand-off on 19 minutes were signs that the Itoje of old had turned up, and he continued to the good vibes with some inroads into the Fiji lineout. There were missed tackles but his count was in double figures. Will be relieved a late knock-on at the restart wasn’t costly.

5. Ollie Chessum – 7
A try scorer last weekend versus Samoa, it was back to the nuts and bolts of the grunt play here, a tackle count in double figures and a sweetly stolen lineout six minutes into the second half. Tired with Fiji making their post-hour scoreboard gallop and and called ashore on 69 minutes/

6. Courtney Lawes – 8
It was fitting that Fiji’s rescue mission ended with his penalty-winning turnover. Lawes had won England their first turnover penalty after two decisions had gone against them in the opening exchanges. Repeatedly fought fire with physical fire and despite getting dumped into first-half touch by a double tackle just seconds after Itoje was himself double-teamed and driven backwards at 15-10, he dusted himself off and continued to impress.

7. Tom Curry – 8
England tackle master with a count just short of 20. It was his breakdown clearance that helped England into an early penalty lead, but a no-arms tackle gave Fiji penalty points back on 20 minutes. Needed a missed kick for another penalty not to cost three points six minutes later, but went from there to exemplify why he is so important to the England defence. There was a dust-up with Levani Botia on 59, he kept firing until hobbling off on 74.

8. Ben Earl – 8.5
England’s best player. Caught by Botia for holding on with his team’s first visit to the 22 just 82 seconds into the contest, he got that penalty back when Botia carried just before the break to the 22. In between, he carried smartly and it was his popped pass on halfway that ignited the move for his team’s second try. Huge tackle on Semi Radradra nine minutes into the second half, it was his monster break that led to the penalty points that moved England into their 30-24 lead.

Turnovers

5
Turnovers Won
7
12
Turnovers Lost
14

Replacements:
16. Theo Dan – No rating
Another match where he was left unused on the bench.

17. Joe Marler – 6
A 61st minute sub for Genge, he had an introduction to forget as Fiji hit England with two quick-fire tries, the second featuring a missed Marler tackle on the 10-metre line. Finished much better, however.

18. Kyle Sinckler – 7
A 59th-minute sub, he will have enjoyed a penalty win at his first scrum. Impressive tackle count.

19. George Martin – 6.5
Tasked with replenishing the pack energy levels from the 69th minute onwards, he didn’t hold back in helping to change the momentum when it most mattered.

20. Billy Vunipola – No rating
A 74th-minute sub for the hobbling Cole, it was his interception that led to the Earl break from one 22 to the other for the game’s final penalty score.

21. Danny Care – 6
Another 59th-minute sub, he didn’t have the dream contribution he had when scoring a try last weekend against Samoa. Struggled during the Fijian comeback but finished the game well.

22. George Ford – No rating
Left on the bench unused.

23. Ollie Lawrence – 5.5
A 24th to the 35th-minute introduction after Smith took a bang to the head, he came back on 65 for May. Wasn’t a massively obvious contributor to the dramatic end-game.

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Comments

7 Comments
k
kevin 276 days ago

Whilst a fan of TC & looking forward to seeing at No.8 he had a shocker, several pens given away & lucky to stay on the pitch on occasion. Interesting rating as I felt he was turning into a liability … give him the 8 shirt & leave BenEarl to his disruptive best at 7.

m
matt 276 days ago

I feel like the top teams get away with a lot more off the feet at the ruck. There was one I remember ona Fiji kick chase where George was on all fours to win a ruck and stayed there. Saw that several times from England.

L
Lucio 276 days ago

No referee on the pitch

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