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

Ben Earl
Ben Earl once again impressed for England - Getty Images/Dan Mullan

England just about edged Wales at Twickenham thanks to a second-half performance that saw them claw back the visitors and ultimately overtake them for the victory.

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

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


15. Freddie Steward

Ability under the high ball feels like a cheat code at times. Surprised Wales, his team-mates and even himself with line breaks at the start and end of the game. 7/10

14. Tommy Freeman

His main contribution in the first half was to pack down at flanker and produced a try-saving tackle on Josh Adams. England failed to use him as an attacking weapon. 6/10

13. Henry Slade

England’s backline was largely operating on scraps and Slade starved. Felt like a step backwards from how influential he was against Italy, but made some key defensive reads. 6/10

12. Fraser Dingwall

The try covered a multitude of sins - from George North running straight through him, to not holding his line before passing to Daly. 5/10

Fraser Dingwall scores a try
Fraser DIngwall got a score but had an up-and-down match - AP/Alastair Grant

11 Elliot Daly

Invariably involved in England’s best attacking moments and produced a skillful if unconventional assist for Dingwall’s score. Still adapting 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 grit, kicked a gorgeous 50-22 and passed beautifully. 8/10

George Ford
Despite the controversial non-conversion Ford was in fine form at Twickenham - Getty Images/Clive Mason

9 Alex Mitchell

Box kicking was generally on the money without always getting the spoils and is timing his snipes much better than at the World Cup. 7/10

1 Joe Marler

Deserves an assist for the Earl try for holding the scrum steady without the support of a flanker behind him. A busy shift overall with some dominant tackles. 7/10

2 Jamie George

Emptied the tank defensively, setting the tone for his team-mates to follow. Twickenham was loud in the last quarter but not quite the bearpit he wants it to become. 7/10

3 Will Stuart

Starting to grow into the role of starting tighthead. Put in a stack of big meaty hits and carries but slipped off a tackle for Mann’s try. 6/10

4 Maro Itoje

His monster tackle on Lloyd to force a turnover when England were down to 13 men was probably the game’s defining moment. Not much else to shout about. 7/10

5 Ollie Chessum

Spent most of the first half off the pitch from a harsh yellow card and then suffering his own head injury assessment. Came up with a chargedown. 6/10

6 Ethan Roots

Struggled to match the heights of last week, losing the ball in contact deep inside the Welsh 22 before conceding a penalty and yellow card for killing a maul. 5/10

7 Sam Underhill

In his element during a 25-phase defensive stand and put in a proper rib-tickler on Thomas. Also came up with a sack on a maul. However, is he too similar to Roots? 7/10

8 Ben Earl

Relishing his role of being England’s main man. Brought some serious big-boy energy off the back of a seven-man scrum for his try. 8/10

Ben Earl
Earl put on a ball-carrying masterclass 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 ascendancy at the scrum once Genge and Cole came on while Cunningham-South again had a couple of eye-catching involvements. 6/10


15 Cameron Winnett

A solid performance. Exploited space behind England’s back three with varying success. A fine try-saving tackle on Daly before slicing the hosts open with an intrepid run. 7/10

14 Josh Adams

A much more composed performance than last week. Spilled Lloyd’s floating kick but his sharp footwork but gave Wales the go-forward for Mann’s try. 7/10

13 George North

The old boy’s still got it. Recovered well after straying out of position in the opening exchanges. The veteran centre showed glimpses of his best. 7/10

George North
George North illustrated he's still a centre 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 epitomised Wales’ lack of clarity in attack. 5/10

11 Rio Dyer

Dealt with an early cross-field kick 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 Ioan Lloyd

Tried to exploit space out wide but his lack of experience told when he was ambushed by Maro Itoje five metres out which led to Earl powering over. 5/10

Ioan Lloyd
Ioan Lloyd's inexperience told at Twickenham - Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

9 Tomos Williams

Hoofed a series of unconvincing box - and clearance kicks - which invited unnecessary pressure, but ran a fine support line for Mann’s score. 6/10

1 Gareth Thomas

Delivered a fine shift and was involved with some patient phase play in the loose with a flurry of buffeting carries. 5/10

2 Elliot Dee

The good news is that the creases in the line out 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 a lot to shout about. Hooked for Archie Griffin before the hour mark. 5/10

4 Dafydd Jenkins

An industrious display from Wales’ baby-faced assassin. Brought a calmness to proceedings and embodied his side’s much-improved defence. 6/10

5 Adam Beard

Worked hard in the loose without too much to show for it although his defensive work in the red zone underlined a fired-up 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

7 Tommy Reffell

Wales’ most-important player by a mile. Fine work at the breakdown early doors and cute offload in the build up to Mann’s try. Wales need to keep him fit. 9/10

Tommy Reffell
Tommy Reffell was outstanding in a losing cause for Wales - Getty Images/David Rogers

8 Aaron Wainwright

He really is a Test-match animal. Had a busy afternoon making bulldozing carries and tidying up defensively. 7/10


Grady couldn’t stop Dingwall’s dive in the corner, nor did his deliberate knock-on help Wales’ cause. Hardy struggled to inject fresh impetus into his personnel as the visitors faded. 4/10

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