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Player Ratings: England vs Argentina

By Alex Shaw
England celebrate Nathan Hughes’ try

England got their autumn off to a victorious start at Twickenham earlier today, defeating Argentina, 21-8, in a resilient but rusty performance.


Eddie Jones’ men were far from their best and lacked the chemistry they will need to triumph against Australia next week, but it was also a game that England never looked like losing or even under threat.

We’ve assessed all 23 of England’s players and ranked their performance in the autumnal opener.


  1. Mike Brown – 6

Brown didn’t have time to have a major impact on the game, leaving the field midway through the first half due to a head knock, but his fearlessness and reliability under the high ball – arguably his point of difference versus other English full-backs – was on display several times in the first quarter.

  1. Anthony Watson – 7

Watson was the highlight of a quiet back three performance from England, with his jinking runs about as much threat as England could muster out wide for the majority of the game. He also coped well with the transition to full-back after Brown left the field with injury.

  1. Jonathan Joseph – 6

Chances to shine were few and far between for Joseph. Henry Slade didn’t provide the carrying threat that Farrell often does in the 12 jersey and the Argentine defence was able to fan out with the ball and didn’t give him any obvious one-on-one opportunities to make the most of.

  1. Henry Slade – 6

A performance full of promise and potential, but little tangible effect until his move to 13 later in the game. As the game went on, he showcased his comfort with a rugby ball and his speed of thought to collect the ball and turn it into a pass or deft kick in one motion was evident.

  1. Elliot Daly – 6

Not too much of note to say here. Daly did his defensive duties well but he was feeding on scraps in attack.

  1. George Ford – 7

A couple of missed kicks take a small bit of gloss off a classy outing from Ford. The fly-half pulled the strings well, not least so with his looped pass to Nathan Hughes for the back rower to score England’s first try.

  1. Ben Youngs – 6

Provided as much tempo as his pack gave him for the 60 minutes he spent on the pitch. The Argentine defensive line didn’t give him much space around the fringes. Box-kicking was solid and most left the Argentine back three with very little time before the chase met them.

  1. Mako Vunipola – 8

Vunipola had a very solid game, constantly testing the fringes and putting width on the ball when Argentina dedicated more defenders to stop his rumbling forays around the fringes. His line speed also stood out in a very effective defensive performance.

  1. Dylan Hartley – 6

A knock-on in an England maul just metres from the Argentinean try line hurt Hartley’s stock, but he did step up as a communicator around the ruck, marshalling the defence, as well as maintaining a 100% record at the lineout.

  1. Dan Cole – 6

A solid, if unspectacular performance. The tighthead came under pressure in his first couple of scrums but responded well as the game went on, as well as contributing at the contact area on attacking ball.

  1. Courtney Lawes – 6

A quieter performance by Lawes’ recent standards and having the ball ripped by Juan Martin Hernández will not sit well with the Northampton man. Nevertheless, he carried and tackled hard for 80 minutes and won a late turnover with Argentina threatening the England try line.

  1. George Kruis – 7

Kruis ran the lineout well and lead the defensive line from the guard position at the rucks. It was a good nuts and bolts performance from the lock.

  1. Chris Robshaw – 6

Robshaw’s performance will get overshadowed by those of his fellow back rowers, but just like the one turned in by Kruis, it did the nuts and bolts well. The blindside hit plenty of rucks, helping secure attacking ball for England.

  1. Sam Underhill – 8

Despite winning just his second cap, Underhill looked like a seasoned veteran against Argentina. He scythed down Argentinean ball-carriers with his flawless tackling technique and was one of England’s best chasers, rarely allowing the Argentine back three any space to counter-attack into.

  1. Nathan Hughes – 8

A couple of knock-ons blighted an otherwise very impressive performance from Hughes. The No 8 dominated the gain-line at Twickenham, not only as a proficient carrier, but also rocking Argentinean carriers back with thunderous tackles. Capped his performance, fittingly, with his first try for England.




  1. Jamie George – 6

Came on with 20 minutes to go but didn’t have many opportunities to make an impact.

  1. Ellis Genge – 6

A couple of powerful carries, but like George, his chances to impact the game were limited.

  1. Harry Williams – 6

Helped England see out the game for the final 10 minutes, with manful defence and efficient tackling.

  1. Joe Launchbury – 6

Got as busy as he could for the short time he was on the pitch. Would have made a much better impact if he was starting.

  1. Sam Simmonds – 6

Similarly to many of the impact players, Simmonds did not have much of a chance to make a real mark on this game. Some solid defence portrayed his potential.

  1. Danny Care – 6

Brought good tempo for England’s second try but, again, England had taken their foot off the gas and were soaking up pressure for most of his time on the pitch.

  1. Alex Lozowski – 7

Brought immediate impact, threatening the line as a carrier – which Slade had not done – and his big break up the field laid the foundations for England’s second try.

  1. Semesa Rokoduguni – 7

Had longer on the pitch to affect the game than the other replacements and played a role in both of England’s tries. He held his position well to create space for Hughes to go over in the first half and finished the second off well himself.


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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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