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

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

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

It was far from a great performance from the hosts, but getting the win was important in the end and Ben Earl’s ball handling was key for them to achieve that on Saturday.

But who enlightened England? Telegraph Sport gives its verdict – let us know your thoughts in the comments.


15. Freddie Steward

High ball ability sometimes feels like a cheat code. He surprised Wales, his teammates and even himself with line breaks at the start and end of the game. 8/10

14. Tommy Freeman

The main thing he did in the first half was to get the upper hand on the class and he tried to save on Josh Adams. England failed to use it as an offensive weapon. 6/10

13. Henry Slade

England’s backline was largely operating on scraps and Slade became hungry. It felt like a step back from his impact against Italy, but he made some key defensive reads. 6/10

12. Fraser Dingwall

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

Fraser Dingwall scored a tryFraser Dingwall scored a try

Fraser Dingwall scored but had an up and down game – AP/Alastair Grant

11 Elliot Daly

England’s best attacking chances were always involved and they provided skilful if not conventional assistance to Dingwall’s score. Still adjusting to Felix Jones’ defensive system. 7/10

10 George Ford

His performance will be remembered for the non-conversion and shame as he epitomized England’s defensive humour, kicking a gorgeous 50-22 and running beautifully. 8/10

George FordGeorge 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 blame and his snipes are much better timed than at the World Cup. 7/10

1 Joe Marler

The Earl deserves help for holding the scrum steady without the support of the wing behind him. A busy shift overall with some dominant tackles. 7/10

2 James George

He emptied the tank defensively, setting the tone for his teammates. Twickenham were loud in the last quarter but not as good as they would have liked to have been. 7/10

3 Will Stewart

Starting to grow into the role of starting tighthead. Throw in a bunch of big meaty hits and he carries but slips out of tackle for Mann’s attempt. 7/10

4 Maro Itoje

His monster tackle on Lloyd to force an England turnover with 13 men down was probably the highlight of the game. Not much else to shout about. 7/10

5 Ollie Chessum

He spent most of the first half of the field from a harsh yellow card and then suffering his own head injury assessment. Came up with a down charge. 6/10

6 Roots of Ethan

Trying to match last week’s highs, they lost the ball in touch deep inside the Welsh 22 before conceding a penalty and a yellow card for killing a clam. 5/10

7 Sam Underhill

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

8 Ben Earl

Enjoying his role as England’s leading man. It gave the big boy real energy from a back seven scrum to try. 8/10

Ben EarlBen Earl

Earl put on a masterclass in ball handling 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) Not used: Fin Smith, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso

England started to make progress in the scrum when Genge and Cole came forward and Cunningham-South again had a couple of eye-catching touches. 6/10


15 Cameron Winnett

Solid performance. They took advantage of space behind England’s back three and had mixed success. A fine save attack from Daly before he overcame the hosts with a brilliant run. 7/10

14 Josh Adams

A much more composed performance than last week. Lloyd spilled a diving kick which was blocked sharply but Mann’s effort gave Wales the lead. 7/10

13 North George

The old boy still has it. Recovered well after straying from position in the opening exchanges. The veteran center showed glimpses of his best. 7/10

North GeorgeNorth George

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

12 Nick Tompkins

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

11 Rio Dyer

He tackled an early cross-field kick when Elliot Daly was on his shoulder. Showed great intuition to race out of the blocks and disrupt Ford’s conversion. 7/10

10 John Lloyd

He tried to take advantage of the space outside but his inexperience showed when Maro Itoje tripped him five meters out from where the Earl headed. 5/10

John LloydJohn Lloyd

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

9 Thomas Williams

Hoofed a series of indecisive boxes – and clearances – that called for unnecessary pressure, but a fine line of support ran for Mann’s score. 6/10

1 Gareth Thomas

Delivered a fine transfer and involved some patient step-play in the loose with plenty of buffet carries. 5/10

2 Elliot Dee

The good news is that the creases in the line out have been ironed out. Fine accuracy with its arrows and hard bearing. 6/10

3 Kieron Assiratti

He did well from Ollie Chessum’s high tackle but had little to say. Excited for Archie Griffin before the hour mark. 5/10

4 Dafydd Jenkins

An industrious display from Britain’s child assassin. It brought calm to proceedings and included a greatly improved defence. 6/10

5 Adam Beard

He worked hard in the loose without showing too much, although his defensive work in the red zone emphasized Wales. 5/10

6 Alex Mann

A productive day at the office. The legs were to mark his Test debut with a try after running a fine line of support for Tomos Williams. 7/10

7 Tommy Reffell

The most important player in Wales by a mile. Nice work by the early doors and cute offloads in the lead up to Mann’s attempt. Wales have to keep him fit. 9/10

Tommy ReffellTommy Reffell

Tommy Reffell was superb for Wales’ losing cause – Getty Images/David Rogers

8 Aaron Wainwright

He really is a Test-matching animal. It was a busy afternoon doing mass demolition and cleaning up defensively. 7/10


Grady was unable to stop Dingwall’s diving effort in the corner, and his deliberate turn did not help Wales’ cause. Hardy struggled to inject fresh motivation into his personnel as the visitors faded away. 4/10

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