England v Wales, Six Nations player ratings: Main man Ben Earl brings ‘big-boy energy’

Ben Earl impressed again for England – Getty Images/Dan Mullan

England narrowly defeated Wales at Twickenham thanks to a second-half performance that saw them pull the visitors back and eventually overtake them for the win.

It was far from a great performance from the hosts, but getting the win was what mattered, and Ben Earl’s ball-carrying was crucial in achieving that on Saturday.

But who shone brightest for England, and who had a match to forget in south-west London? Telegraph Sport gives its verdict – let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


15. Freddie Stewart

Skill under the high ball sometimes feels like a cheat code. Surprises Wales, his teammates and even himself with line breaks at the start and end of the match. 7/10

14.Tommy Freeman

His main contribution in the first half was packing on the flanker and producing a try-saving tackle on Josh Adams. England failed to use him as an offensive weapon. 6/10

13. Henry Slade

The England backline was largely operating on scraps and Slade was starving. It felt like a step back from how influential he was against Italy, but he made some important defensive statements. 6/10

12. Fraser Dingwall

The attempt included a host of sins – from George North running right through him, to failing to hold his line before going to Daly. 5/10

Fraser Dingwall scores a tryFraser Dingwall scores a try

Fraser DIngwall got a score, but had an up and down match: AP/Alastair Grant

11 Elliott Daly

Consistently involved in England’s best attacking moments, producing a skillful if unconventional assist for Dingwall’s score. I’m still adjusting to Felix Jones’ defensive system. 7/10

10 George Ford

His performance will be remembered for the non-conversion, which is a shame as he personified England’s defensive prowess, scoring a stunning 50-22 and passing beautifully. 8/10

George FordGeorge Ford

Despite the controversial non-conversion, Ford was in good form at Twickenham – Getty Images/Clive Mason

9 Alex Mitchell

Box-kicking was generally on the money without always getting the booty and his snipes are much better timed than in the World Cup. 7/10

1 Joe Marler

Earns an assist for Earl’s attempt to steady the scrum without the support of a flanker behind him. Overall a busy shift with some dominant tackles. 7/10

2 Jamie George

Emptyed the tank defensively and set the tone for his teammates. Twickenham was loud in the final quarter, but not quite the bearpit it wants it to be. 7/10

3 Wil Stuart

Begins to move into the role of starting tighthead. He scored a pile of big hits and carries, but slipped in a tackle for Mann’s try. 6/10

4 Maro Itoje

His monstrous tackle on Lloyd to force a turnover when England were down to thirteen men was probably the defining moment of the match. There’s not much else to shout about. 7/10

5 Ollie Chessum

Spent most of the first half off the field after receiving a harsh yellow card and then suffered a head injury himself. Came with a settlement. 6/10

6 Ethan roots

Struggling to match the heights of last week, lost the ball deep in contact with the Welsh 22 before receiving a penalty and a yellow card for killing a maul. 5/10

7Sam Underhill

In his element during a 25-phase defensive stand and a decent rib tickle on Thomas. I also came up with a pocket on a maul. However, does he look too much like Roots? 7/10

8 Ben Graaf

Enjoying his role as England’s most important man. Brought out some serious big-boy energy from the back of a seven-man scrum for his try. 8/10

Ben GraafBen Graaf

Earl gave a masterclass in ball carrying as he helped England beat Wales – Getty Images /Dan Mullan


Theo Dan (for George, 73) 6, Ellis Genge (for Marler, 51) 7, Dan Cole (for Stuart, 51) 7, Alex Coles (for Roots, 73) 6, Chandler Cunningham-South (for Underhill, 64) 7, Danny Care (for Mitchell, 69) Unused: Fin Smith, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso

England started to gain the upper hand in the scrum when Genge and Cole came on, while Cunningham-South again had some eye-catching games. 6/10


15 Cameron Winnett

A solid performance. Used the space behind the English back three with varying degrees of success. A fine try-saving tackle on Daly before cutting the hosts open with a fearless run. 7/10

14 Josh Adams

A much more controlled performance than last week. He spilled Lloyd’s floating kick, but his sharp footwork but gave Wales the go-ahead for Mann’s try. 7/10

13 George North

The old boy still has it. Recovered well after being out of position during the opening changes. The veteran center showed glimpses of his best. 7/10

George NorthGeorge North

George North illustrated he is still a center to be reckoned with – AFP/Glyn Kirk

12 Nick Tompkins

The challenge is to involve him more as a ball carrier. His disjointed midfield partnership with North epitomized Wales’ lack of clarity in attack. 5/10

11 Rio Dyer

Got an early kick across the field when he had Elliot Daly on his shoulder. Showed great intuition to race out of the blocks and disrupt Ford’s conversion. 7/10

10 Ian Lloyd

He tried to exploit the space wide, but his inexperience showed when he was ambushed by Maro Itoje five yards out, which led to Earl skipping over. 5/10

Ioan LloydIoan Lloyd

Ioan Lloyd’s inexperience told at Twickenham – Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

9 Tom Williams

He made a series of unconvincing box and clearance kicks that invited unnecessary pressure but provided a fine line of support for Mann’s score. 6/10

1 Gareth Thomas

Delivered an excellent service and was involved in some patient phase play in the free run with a flurry of hitting carries. 5/10

2 Elliott Dee

The good news is that the wrinkles in the line have been ironed out. Fine accuracy with his arrows and carried hard. 6/10

3 Kieron Assiratti

Recovered well from Ollie Chessum’s high tackle but didn’t have much to shout about. Hooked on Archie Griffin before the hour. 5/10

4 Dafydd Jenkins

A zealous display from Wales’ baby-face killer. Brought calmness to the proceedings and epitomized his side’s much improved defense. 6/10

5 Adam Beard

He worked hard in the open without showing too much, although his defensive work in the red zone underlined an excited Wales. 5/10

6 Alex Mann

A productive day at the office. Had the legs to mark his first Test start with a try after running a fine support line for Tomos Williams. 7/10

7Tommy Reffell

By far Wales’ most important player. Good job breaking down the early doors and a nice release leading up to Mann’s try. Wales need to keep him fit. 9/10

Tommy ReffelTommy Reffel

Tommy Reffell was excellent in a losing cause for Wales – Getty Images/David Rogers

8 Aaron Wainwright

He really is a laboratory animal. Had a busy afternoon making bulldozer trucks and defensive cleanup. 7/10


Grady couldn’t stop Dingwall’s dive in the corner, and his deliberate attack didn’t help Wales’ cause either. Hardy struggled to reinvigorate his staff as the visitors faded away. 4/10

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