England 38-21 New Zealand: England Player Ratings
Alex Corbisiero: 8
The scrum was the basis for England’s first half lead, as they won penalty after penalty. Corbisiero put in a titanic shift, and over the course of two games he has cemented himself as hands down the no.1 loosehead in the land.
Tom Youngs: 7
He is so small and strong that it is very difficult to knock him backwards. A couple of bustling runs in the loose proved this, and although a couple of line-outs went awry Youngs rounded off a largely successful Autumn with a good performance.
Dan Cole: 9
After the Australia match he was questioned, but how stupid that looks now. He has re-affirmed his quality with a couple of excellent showings, this one easily the best. Once again he was not only the cornerstone of the scrum, but managed to win a couple of turnovers at the breakdown. Once he gets over that ball, he is impossible to move.
Geoff Parling: 7
Not as destructive in the loose as he was last week, but he ran the line-out as well as ever and contributed to an immensely impressive forward effort. Never stopped running and typifies Lancaster’s never-say-die attitude that has been instilled.
Joe Launchbury: 9
The young lock has, in the space of 2 weeks, cemented his starting place. He will always come under pressure from Lawes, but the way he covers every blade of grass on the pitch is so impressive. Strong carries allied with an indefatigable work-rate meant his was easily one of the performances of the match.
Tom Wood: 9
Launchbury was everywhere, but Wood took it up another notch. His defensive effort was nothing short of epic, smashing black shirts back all day and leading a line that gave New Zealand no time or space to get into their usual free-flowing groove. Not only that but he carried strongly and, along with his back-row pals, bossed the breakdown in a manner the great McCaw would have been proud of himself. Far and away his best showing in a white shirt and a deserved MOTM.
Chris Robshaw: 8
It’s been an incredibly tough week for the captain, and it is a mark of his character that he bounced back with this effort against arguably the best team of all time. He led his men from the front, and along with Wood England seem to have a great balance in their back-row despite not having that out-and-out fetcher.
Ben Morgan: 8
The final part of a mammoth back-row triumvirate, Morgan completely outplayed his much-vaunted opposite number Read. The best part of this performance wass that you sense there is still more to come from Morgan – an exciting prospect for the years to come.
Ben Youngs: 8
A couple of wayward box-kicks in the first half took nothing away from Youngs’ enthusiasm. He got in the face of his opposite number Smith, which contributed to a torrid afternoon for the All Black 9. Showed all of his pace in a searing break towards the end of the game, and his service was generally good. Like most others, his best performance of the series.
Owen Farrell: 8
He did everything that England asked of him. Not as complete a footballer as his replacement Burns, who you suspect is the long-term answer at 10, but Farrell’s distribution was better than last week and he had ice in his veins to kick flawlessly in the first half to give England a healthy lead going into the break. A couple of missed kicks in the second half could not detract from what was an overwhelmingly positive return to the starting line-up.
Mike Brown: 8
He may not be the most exciting winger ever, but Brown just never knows when to give up. On countless occasions he looked like running up blind allies, only to emerge with several metres gained and the crowd roaring in appreciation.
Brad Barritt: 8
Finally, when he needed it most, Barritt showed some attacking nous to go with his undoubted ability in defence. Kieran Read, an incredibly athletic no.8, couldn’t lay a finger on him as he stormed onto Farrell’s pass and ghosted outside him, exchanging the ball with Tuilagi before crashing over the line. The question is, can he show this kind of form every week or was it a one-off?
Manu Tuilagi: 9
What a game for Tuilagi, who out-Nonued Ma’a Nonu himself. Set up two tries, one with a beautiful offload to Barritt after some strong support running, the other with a barnstorming run through 3 New Zealand tacklers before giving a beautifully timed and weighted pass to Ashton. He was also very solid in defence, putting in a couple of huge hits to take the wind out of building All Black attacks.
Chris Ashton: 7
Ashton looked almost back to his best this weekend, but there is still a little way to go. He will never lose that innate ability to run great support lines, which was in evidence for his try when he followed Tuilagi and gratefully received his pass to Ash-splash his way over the line. He did, however, fluff a couple of easily catchable passes and was found wanting in defence with some flaky tackling on occasion. Still, an encouraging performance from England’s golden boy of wing play.
Alex Goode: 8
Goode’s autumn came to an end with another consummate performance, and one which left Foden with a lot to do if he is to regain this jersey when he returns from injury. One break from his own 22, in which he danced round the great Dan Carter, was particularly outstanding. Aside from his footwork he has great distribution skills, a booming boot and an appreciation of space that seems to give him so much time on the ball. One of the finds of the series for England.
The substitution strategy was slightly surprising at the time, particularly with Freddie Burns coming on at a time when control was needed. But Burns was superb, trying his luck as expected, but doing the basics like kicking goals and fizzing flat passes out wide. Courtney Lawes also made a couple of carries, adding fresh legs in the pack along with David Paice and James Haskell, whilst Danny Care was pretty good as well.