England player ratings: Forward pack fronts up against Ireland while Freddie Steward is sent off

Jared Wright
England fell to a 29-16 defeat to Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland in the tournament's final round. Here are the Red Rose player ratings after an improved performance. 

England fell to a 29-16 defeat to Six Nations Grand Slam winners Ireland in the tournament’s final round. Here are the Red Rose player ratings after an improved performance. 

15 Freddie Steward: The term ‘rugby incident’ is usually used to downplay foul play by the ‘rugby has gone soft’ brigade, but Steward’s sending-off is the epitome of a rugby incident. He was extremely unfortunate to be sent off. Until he was given his marching orders, the full-back was excellent. He was safe as ever under the high ball, and his kicking game was on point. Usually, a red-carded player would get a meagre rating, but Steward doesn’t deserve it. 5

Watson plugs the gaps

14 Anthony Watson: Tasked with covering full-back and wing after Steward’s sending-off, Watson stepped up with great aplomb. Robbie Henshaw’s try came after he was dragged over the line. There was not much he could have done about it. 7

13 Henry Slade: His best performance of the tournament and aided by having the powerful Manu Tuilagi inside him. He had some success with ball in hand and was better defensively. 6

12 Manu Tuilagi: His barnstorming charges into the Irish defence drew players in while he was able to shift the ball on too. It was not the perfect game from the centre, but the value he added to the backline was clear to see, particularly in the battle with Bundee Aki. 7

11 Henry Arundell: Seldom got the opportunity to shine on attack, making just three carries, but he did capitalise on those, gaining over 40 metres. He was caught out a few times defensively, missing three tackles. 5

10 Owen Farrell: The England captain made a few wasteful decisions, but overall, Steve Borthwick’s side looked more precise and direct under Farrell’s guidance. He also missed a few tackles, but Ireland flogged his channel. 6

9 Jack van Poortvliet: A far more accurate and confident performance than what he produced against France last week. He kicked far better out of hand too. While he didn’t test the fringes, his passing and kicking were the highlights of his game. 6

Improved back performance

8 Alex Dombrandt: The number eight didn’t quite rise to the occasion again, and while he did have some success with his carries, he still isn’t fronting up physically. Improved performance but still not quite there. 6

7 Jack Willis: A brutal breakdown outing paired with a mammoth defensive shift. Willis had an excellent game until he was yellow-carded when he got a clear-out all wrong. He made 22 tackles and often slowed Ireland’s attack. A real standout, but that yellow card did for any chance of a late rally. 7

6 Lewis Ludlam: An abrasive performance in the heat of the battle, piling into the rucks and muscling up on defence. He was also an essential player at the lineout – another dynamic game from the Northampton Saints flanker. 7

5 David Ribbans: England needed to front up in the pack, and Ribbans played a big part in achieving that. He landed a few solid hits on defence but also conceded a penalty and turnover over. A strong platform for him to build on this season. 6

4 Maro Itoje: A gritty game from the England lock as he disrupted Ireland’s rucks as much as possible. A risky approach, and he did concede two penalties for his efforts. He also missed a few tackles but did get some purchase with his carries. 5


3 Kyle Sinckler: Another high penalty count, with the tighthead conceding three in total, including one scrum penalty. He did get through a ton of work, making 12 tackles and seven carries for 35 metres. 6

2 Jamie George: The hooker went deep into the match once again, and the 32-year-old was superbly accurate at the lineout. Always a hard-working player, George was at the forefront of England’s improved performance up front. 7

1 Ellis Genge: A real arm-wrestle with Tadhg Furlong at scrum time while rampaged into the Irish defence, regularly shaking off tackles. A couple of penalties against but overall a solid enough game.

Replacements: Ben Curry got the most minutes (28) and upped the ante when he came onto the pitch. Joe Marchant filled in well on the wing, while the rest didn’t really get long enough to make a real impact or didn’t get on at all. 5

READ MORE: Six Nations: Ireland secure Grand Slam after hard-fought victory over 14-man England