England player ratings: ‘Magnificent’ Marcus Smith runs the game as the Red Rose unearths blindside gem

James While

Split with England's Chandler Cunningham-South and Marcus Smith.

After their 52-17 victory in their mid-year international against Japan at the National Stadium in Tokyo, here’s how the England team performed on Saturday.

England ratings

15 George Furbank: Never quite got the chance to get into the line as the extra man, although he might point out he had a run-in for a try when Marcus Smith opted for Immanuel Feyi-Waboso instead. Was solid without shining and did a decent job at 10 when England lost Smith to a yellow card. 5

14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso: Great workrate, was physical in defence and breakdown when he needed to be, yet was his balanced running self with ball in hand, crossing over for England’s second try. His carrying through contact is a real bonus for a small winger by modern Test standards. 6

13 Henry Slade: Took his try well as Smith made the most of a penalty advantage to set Slade up with a cross-kick. But a few missed tackles, botched passes and a missed touch kick took the gloss off his performance as once again the England version of Slade never matched the heights of the player seen in the Premiership for Exeter. 5

12 Ollie Lawrence: He is playing out of position and is the England crash carrier and to his credit, he’s making a decent fist of it. His take off the lineout was a key enabler for England’s first try but there’s an argument that England ideally wants to play him one out at 13. 6

11 Tommy Freeman: A powerful defensive and aerial shift in an understated way shows that Freeman has bolted on quality basics to his undoubted running skills. Quietly impressive in delivering the plan without ever firing big shots. 6

10 Marcus Smith: Ran the show magnificently and repaid the faith shown in his selection; a wonderful 45 metre try off a set-piece move was the highlight, but his 50/22 led up to England’s second try, with Smith throwing out a wonderful 35-metre pass off his left hand. His cross-field kick for Slade’s try was a peach after Smith had moved the Japanese defence to the other side of the pitch before unleashing the cross-kick. He’ll be bruised though, as Japan targeted his channel in attack and he also copped a yellow for an early tackle on England’s line. 9

9 Alex Mitchell: It wasn’t his most free-running performance despite a brilliantly taken trademark try, but his tactical kicking was absolutely key in getting England in the right areas of the pitch after weathering an early storm from Japan. Assured and intelligent. 7

Planet Rugby player ratings key 10 - Career defining performance 9 - Outright blockbuster effort 8 - Significantly influenced the result of the game 7 - Committed and effective outing 6 - Flashes of brilliance outside of executing fundamentals 5 - Fulfilling the role required by position (base level) 4 - Poor execution of fundamentals 3 - Costly errors and/or discipline in the game 2 - Poor performance that directly impacted the result 1 - Grossly ineffective throughout 0 - Should have carried water instead


8 Ben Earl: England struggled to compete in the way they wanted at the breakdown and Earl had one of his quieter games at ruck-time, but once again his close-quarter power and nose for the try-line saw him emerge in well in credit for his afternoon’s work as he crossed for another Test try and really grew into the battle. 7

7 Sam Underhill: A challenging day at the contact area for Underhill as England took time to adapt to managing the contact area due to the lowness of Japan in contact, but Underhill responded well and made a couple of key steals. He also put in some massive hits and was a key disruptor in England’s primary defence, two qualities that are the hallmarks of the Bath openside. 8

6 Chandler Cunningham-South: His first start saw him score a close-range try but it was his close-quarter power tackling that really caused Japan problems and he was England’s go-to lineout option. He’s on a fast learning curve but he’s responding brilliantly to his ongoing Test education. Impressive. 8

5 George Martin: A quiet game by the big lock’s standards, he’s on his way back into rugby and that was quite apparent. Held on well and contributed positively with some big carries in the second half, nonetheless. 6

4 Maro Itoje: Itoje did Itoje things absolutely tirelessly. He might not quite get the headlines he once did but the coalface work around the fringes that he consistently delivers is quite relentless. A consummate Test match performer. 6

3 Dan Cole: Cole likes to scrum at his own height, and he struggled with the shape the Japanese front-row gave him to work with, going backwards on a couple of occasions, but fought back well once he had his bromance partner Joe Marler on the pitch alongside him. 5

2 Jamie George: Immaculate set-piece, key lineout throwing and great leadership are all givens with George and he delivered those with aplomb. But do others offer more around the park? It’s a question that will be ongoing for the summer tour as Theo Dan impressed once again off the bench. 6

1 Bevan Rodd: Hugely unlucky to be pinged for the first scrum, Rodd offers so much around the pitch and was one of England’s key close-quarter operators in both carry and tackle. His set-piece work isn’t his superpower but it’s improving and he held on well. 5

Replacements: Dan upped England’s tempo no end and Tom Curry banged and crashed his way with glee upon his return, really increasing England’s physicality. With Harry Randall sliding over for a try and Marler shoring up the scrum it was a positive bench contribution, but Charlie Ewels’ red card will really take the gloss off England’s win, as he received his second sending off in nine minutes of Test rugby. 7

READ MORE: Marcus Smith shines as impressive England put 50 past Japan in Tokyo