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England player ratings vs Scotland | 2024 Guinness Six Nations

By Liam Heagney
England contest a breakdown at Scottish Gas Murrayfield (Photo by Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

England player ratings live from Scottish Gas Murrayfield: This was the moment of truth for Steve Borthwick’s February progress. Not since the pandemic-affected 2020 championship, when they were last crowned champions, had England won more than two of their five matches in the Guinness Six Nations.

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Having defeated Italy by three points and Wales by two in recent weeks, this was the perfect opportunity for them to illustrate they were indeed travelling in the right direction and that they do possess the nous to really build on last October’s surprise third-place finish at the Rugby World Cup. Those notions got a very rude awakening with this deflating 21-30 defeat which was riddled by a criminally gigantic number of handling errors.

England beating Scotland in the championship, of course, had become a rare thing of late, the Scots winning four and drawing one of the six most recent encounters before this latest fixture, but with four of their five XV changes tactical alterations, it suggested Borthwick had a proper plan cooked up and they started brilliantly.

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Just 15 minutes were needed for the visitors to jump 10 points, George Furbank leading the charge with his fifth-minute try, but their defence then woundingly wobbled and they were 10-17 down before grabbing some drop goal relief to make the break just 13-17 behind.

That balm was temporary, though, as Duhan van der Merwe needed just five second-half minutes to complete his 25-minute try hat-trick, bringing the English leakage of five-pointers to eight in just over two-and-a-half games; not the improvement they believed they would get with Felix Jones’ blitz system replacing last year’s jittery championship rearguard under Kevin Sinfield.

Fixture
Six Nations
Scotland
30 - 21
Full-time
England
All Stats and Data

There was eventually a 67th-minute try from Immanuel Feyi-Waboso to get the margin back to nine points, but there was a general lack of urgency to properly turn this underwhelming performance around. Look at how the forwards were walking to a 76th-minute lineout when they should have bene sprinting. Here are the England player ratings:

15. George Furbank – 5.5
Shock inclusion for his seventh cap at the expense of Freddie Steward and his first in two years, he needed just five minutes to suggest justifying that selection with his Ash-splash style try finish. Blotted his copy, though, with the soft fumble that gave Scotland possession to run in their second van der Merwe try, and his middling effort was summed up by a pass into touch to nobody after trying to run it out from deep in the second half.

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14. Tommy Freeman – 5.5
Continued to look like an improved player from his 2022 iteration, showing alertness to step in as scrum-half at one first-half breakdown to get England moving. Didn’t see enough of the ball, though, but he did defensively help England when switching to midfield in the game’s later part.

13. Henry Slade – 4
One to forget. Sketchy attacking start versus Wales and another here with knock-ons involvements on either side of the opening England try. The renewal of his midfield partnership with Ollie Lawrence for the first time since last year’s championship didn’t defensively gel either as his coverage was questionable for both first-half Scottish tries. Gone on 62 with England 11 points behind. Might not be back in this campaign.

12. Ollie Lawrence – 5.5
Another with some early handling issues; see his poor one-handed grasp at a difficultly low George Ford pass. His first outing with the Jones defence had the cruel moment of a decent tackle on Sione Tuipulotu not being rewarded as his rival offloaded, creating the momentum for the opening Scotland. Lacked genuine go-forward, finishing with a lame pass into touch.

11. Elliot Daly – 5
Needed to show more in attack than in the previous two rounds and he initially stepped up, gleefully giving Furbank the try assistant pass after breaking the Scottish line. His defence, though, came under fire with him not being in the position to reel in the offload-taking van der Merwe for England’s first points concession. The game then bypassed him after that.

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10. George Ford – 5.5
Lively at the off, helping England to bring initial good shape to their attack. Momentarily rekindled his Argentina drop goal exploits to settle his team with a late first-half strike. He was also robust defensively judging by one ball rip on van der Merwe and a high tackle count. However, England’s attacking energy withered badly with a lack of cohesion in the 10/12/13 channel and he was sacrificed on 63 minutes.

9. Danny Care – 5
Taking over from the injured Alex Mitchell, he began busily before a 16th-minute overcooked touch finder sapped England’s early stride. Deteriorated from there, his last act on 44 seeing him watch on in despair as the nearest England man when van der Merwe collected Finn Russell’s crosskick to complete his hat-trick.

1. Ellis Genge – 5.5
Another of the trio promoted from the round two bench to start, he carried way more in the opening than Joe Marler would have but there was not much gainline to be had. Exited on 62.

2. Jamie George – 6
Emotional afternoon for him, leading the team just 10 days after the death of his mother Jane, the “biggest rugby fan on earth”. He didn’t get the win he would dearly have loved, going off on 68 minutes with England 21-30 behind. The lost lineout that led to the third Scottish try will be annoying.

3. Dan Cole – 5
The scrum dominance England would have wanted from the veteran’s recall didn’t materalise and he left the fray on 56 with his team struggling for breakdown momentum.

4. Maro Itoje – 5.5
Looked decent when it came to pouncing on some loose ball and with his tackling. However, those positives weren’t near enough what was needed to keep the Scots quiet at the ruck.

5. Ollie Chessum – 5
Ultimately out-grunted where it most mattered, he was shifted to the back row with the introduction of the impressive George Martin.

6. Ethan Roots – 5
Carried and was physical in the early stages when England were on top on the scoreboard, but he soon fell way out of the reckoning. Gave Russell penalty points for an offside on 35 minutes and was hooked six minutes into the second period.

7. Sam Underhill – 5.5
Enjoyed a couple of penalty turnover wins but he was another eclipsed back-rower whose race was run early as he was subbed on 56.

8. Ben Earl – 6.5
A rare England solace. Scored a crucial try off scrum ball versus Wales and created one with a set-piece gallop here. Carried often and had a large tackle count on the other side of the ball. However, a rare miss gave Scotland their second try, and involvement in two second-half penalty concessions helped Russell to keep the scoreboard ticking.

Replacements:
16. Theo Dan – 4.5
Sent on with 12 minutes left to the urgency just after England’s second try, the desired impact didn’t materialise.

17. Joe Marler – 4
Moaned during the build-up about recent Scottish Calcutta Cup celebrations. Now has more reason to jeer after 18 minutes that didn’t give enough of a lift in the second half they ‘lost’ 8-13.

18. Will Stuart – 4
Struggled to make big impacts as a starter this month and it was similar here as a sub. His effort was encapsulated by getting ripped of the ball in the carry not long after his 56th-minute arrival.

19. George Martin – 7
Had 34 minutes for the out-of-sorts Roots and if you ignore his sloppy fumble at the restart after England cut the gap to 16-24, he was excellent and will surely be a starter the next day against Ireland.

20. Chandler Cunningham-South – 5
Given 24 minutes for Underhill, he didn’t shirk the tackles but it was ball carrying that England badly needed and it didn’t happen.

21. Ben Spencer – 5
Given 34 minutes in his first Test appearance since a 2019 World Cup final cameo. Tough going behind a wilting pack.

22. Fin Smith – 5.5
Unused the last day at Twickenham, he had 18 minutes to rescue England. It didn’t work out but there were smarts in how he visited the breakdown to protect Martin in the lead-up to the Feyi-Waboso score.

23. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso – 6.5
Another left stewing on the round two sidelines, he was sent on for Slade and quickly made good his introduction with his first Test-level try.

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