England player ratings: NZ-born newbie fills Courtney Lawes’ boots as Tommy Freeman brings club form into the Six Nations

Colin Newboult
Ethan Roots for England against Italy.

Ethan Roots for England against Italy.

Following a narrow 27-24 victory over Italy in the Six Nations clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, here are the player ratings for England.

15 Freddie Steward: Was solid as ever under the high ball and cleaned up the backfield well, but doesn’t have the recovery pace when the opposition get in behind. 6

14 Tommy Freeman: Brought his Northampton form onto the international stage. Set up Elliot Daly’s try with an excellent run and off-load, and was a consistent threat after that. 8

Line speed

13 Henry Slade: Constantly flew out of the defensive line in England’s new defensive system. Sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t but he certainly committed to the role. Also had a couple of superb hits off a kick-chase which set the tone in the second half. 6

12 Fraser Dingwall: Won’t like the missed tackle for Monty Ioane’s try in a debut performance where there wasn’t too much to shout about. 5

11 Elliot Daly: Scored a try but that was all down to the work of Freeman. Chased well but was pretty ineffective otherwise, and compounded his day with a stupid yellow card. 5

Half-backs shine

10 George Ford: Not had a great time of it since the Rugby World Cup but this was him getting closer to his best. Manipulated the Italy defence nicely and kicked much better off the tee. 7

9 Alex Mitchell: Gave England speed and direction at the base of the ruck. Also scored the try which took the Red Rose ahead, although it was perhaps fortunate to be given as there seemed to be a double movement. 7

8 Ben Earl: Not quite the Earl of the World Cup but he still carried pretty well in this Six Nations clash and was a ubiquitous presence around the field. 7

7 Sam Underhill: A couple of decent carries but not too many bone-crunching hits and was replaced in the second period. 6

Excellent debut

6 Ethan Roots: Very good debut from the New Zealand-born flanker. Carried hard into contact and was also a useful option in the lineout. 8

5 Ollie Chessum: Carried well, was good in the lineout and put himself about in defence. A good performance. 7

4 Maro Itoje: A couple of needless penalties but he was otherwise excellent. Was a threat at the breakdown, nicked lineout ball and altogether a nuisance to the Italian side. 7

Workmanlike front-row

3 Will Stuart: Scrummaged solidly enough, winning a penalty with his final shove, and also showed some decent touches in the loose. 6

2 Jamie George (c): Set-piece was strong and he ended high up on England’s tackling charts. Not the carrying threat he once was but a decent start as captain. 6

1 Joe Marler: Carried plenty, if pretty ineffectively, and held up his end of the scrum. 6

Replacements: Danny Care was a significant step down from Alex Mitchell but there was a nice cameo from debutant Chandler Cunningham-South. Theo Dan also had some nice moments, but he was only given seven minutes. 6

READ MORE: England dig deep as new cap shines in come-from-behind Six Nations win

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