Bryn Palmer

England ratings v Tonga (154)

Paris - I was at the Parc des Princes on Friday night as England beat Tonga 36-20 to book a World Cup quarter-final date with Australia next Saturday, a repeat of the 2003 final.

Here’s how I rated each individual England player. See if you agree and let me know your own views.

Josh Lewsey – Solid last line of defence, one tackle stopping a Tongan try late on, and safe under high ball, but little penetration when he joined the attack. 6

Paul Sackey – Showed great awareness to dot down his first try from Wilkinson’s cross-kick in the nick of time, and superb pace to pick up and race 70m for his second, giving him four in two games. England have a real finisher. 8

Mathew Tait – Did some good work mopping up in defence in first half and came alive in attack in second, one slashing break, a good angled run for his try and another break up the left flank, only for a poor pass to spoil it. 7

Olly Barkley – Disappointing outing, with a couple of missed tackles, an aimless chip ahead and a sliced drop-goal attempt from 10m out. One break in first half but penalised for holding on. Replaced after 52 minutes. 4

Mark Cueto – Went looking for work and looked dangerous when he came off his wing into line, his break setting the platform for Tait’s try. Chased kicks well but one moment of indecision saw him concede a penalty for holding on. 6

Jonny Wilkinson – A mixed bag. Made a couple of big tackles but missed a vital one on Hufanga for Tonga’s try. Confidently drilled over two drop-goals but only landed four from seven at goal, which he won’t be happy about. 6

Andy Gomarsall – Another assured outing for England’s renaissance man, providing a sterling service, intelligent kicking game and brilliant pressure at the base of Tonga’s back-pedalling scrum. 7

Andrew Sheridan – Had the Tongan scrum in all sorts of trouble with his power, keeping them on the back foot, and several charges with ball in hand. Another encouraging outing. 7

George Chuter – Found his men superbly all night at the line-out, with only one throw missing its target, and plenty of energy in the loose, one untimely knock-on aside. 7

Matt Stevens – Another strong scrummaging display, made some important tackles and his charge set in motion England’s opening try. Justified his selection ahead of Vickery, who replaced him after 56 minutes. 7

Steve Borthwick – Reliable source of possession at the front of the line-out, and did his bit to disrupt the Tonga line-out. Showed up well in the loose too, providing some ballast around the fringes. 7

Ben Kay – Led England out on the occasion of his 50th cap, and won all his own ball in the middle of the line-out, and disrupted plenty of Tonga’s throws. Tackled well and safe hands around the park. 7

Martin Corry – One missed tackle might have been costly but otherwise put in his usual hard shift, making tackles and hitting rucks, and came into game more with ball in hand before trooping off with 15 minutes left. 6

Lewis Moody – In the wars after throwing himself around with usual lack of concern for personal safety, requiring treatment three times after catching a boot in the face early on, and victim of a head-on tackle from Nil Latu. But showed up well. 7

Nick Easter – Another solid outing, claiming re-starts, providing ballast off the base of a dominant scrum without showing complete authority yet. Fortunate to get away with ill-advised chip and gather, and moved to blind-side for last 15 minutes. 6


Andy Farrell – Came on for Barkley after 52 minutes and provided some direct running and good passing, capping an impressive cameo with his first England try, when he dummied his way through and powered over from 10m out. 7

Phil Vickery – Embraced Stevens as he replaced him after 56 minutes but the captain may have to kick his heels a while longer on the bench. 6

Lawrence Dallaglio – Came on for Corry just in time to help celebrate Farrell’s clinching try. Kept things steady at the base of the scrum. 6

Lee Mears – First taste of World Cup action, and one pirouette out of a tackle and break will have pleased him and the coaches. 6

Dan Hipkiss – Replaced Sackey for the final 13 minutes, and saw little action. 5

Peter Richards – Came on for a hobbling Mark Cueto for last eight minutes, posted at centre but too little time to make an impression.

Not used: Joe Worsley – Had to do a solo work-out when everyone else had left field

Bryn Palmer is the BBC Sport website’s rugby union editor.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:35 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Tinoflyer wrote:

Not sure what game you were watching mr Palmer, but I am fairly sure it was the same one as me.

I think firstly, you are being way to critical of Wilkinson - He gave us that edge in the backline, the ability to see whats in front of him, and more importantly the bravery to play it. He has helped turn England into a team that at least may go down with a fight - if we go down. Its no coincidence that we are starting to play more rugby with him in charge of the back line.

I don't know if you have anything against Nick Easter, but I thought once again he was a stand out player for us - strength and power going forward, always crossing the gain line, and some great offloads turned the Tongan defence and created huge holes.

The whole pack did well. I thought it was one of Sheridans better games and thought Chuter gave us solidity. Kay and Borthwick added more than just a lineout threat and Mears came on and looked lively against a tiring defence. Moody put his body on the line without conceeding penalties and gave us a bit zip in the back row.

Apart from Barclay, the whole performance was up another notch from the Samoa game. That is very encouraging. Without looking too far ahead, I think we can go into the Australia game with a bit of confidence, and if we can continue to improve - we will be hard to beat.

Given where we were at the start of the world cup - I will take that.

Good performance lads, I am proud of English rugby once again. Thank you.

  • 2.
  • At 10:37 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • darran mather wrote:

Farrell mobbed on his debut try in 'kick and clap'. Congrats to the man. It was superb to see the whole of the team congratulate him with such jubilant relief as though he'd just lost his virginity. One in the eye for the 'old wives' like cleary, jones and geremiah guscotto!! Bet they wish they'd just scored in the RUWC and then mobbed by their rugger heroes.

IN sport you have the doers and the don'ters. Farrell's a doer and cleary etal are the don'ters. Im in the latter!!


  • 3.
  • At 10:40 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • craig wrote:

Good performance on the whole. This was never going to be an easy match and we hardly started off well. I tend to agree with the ratings, however, we need to be a lot more assured in defence. Sackey scored two very good tries but I still think he tackles poorly. We have to be a lot sharper against the Wallabies. Australia will not tire like the Tongans did and obviously they have a lot more to offer in general play. But who knows? If they hit top form and the Wallabies have a "bad" day, it could happen. Think of France vs NZ in 1999? Who thought the Bleus would have qualified for the final there?

I heard that there is something different with these balls? Wilko and Carter seem to be struggling to maintain their high standards. What's the story?

  • 4.
  • At 10:42 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • patrick reynolds wrote:

pretty fair in general but harsh on Gomersall who i thought had a great game , still think Tait is a little light weight in defense he did some good work but also slipped off a couple of tackles he should have made
Hope you are right and Vickery again stays on the bench i think the England front row is one of the strongest in the tournament so far. Would be nice to see a match up vs the ABs best when they finally stop their rotating

  • 5.
  • At 10:47 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Frankness wrote:

So Dallaglio "6" and Easter 6 and Moody 7. Thought Easter had another great game 7 at least and Moody should have been 8.

  • 6.
  • At 10:50 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Why only 6 for Easter? the number of times he caught the restarts and held onto the ball when needed, he was really solid, should be at least a 8 in my view

  • 7.
  • At 10:51 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Why only 6 for Easter? The number of times he caught the restarts and held onto the ball when needed, he was really solid, should be at least an 7 in my view, he provided plenty of dynamism, always driving forward

  • 8.
  • At 10:52 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

I thought Easter had a great game. Yeah he lost the plot with his mini 'chip n gather' but he had an all round excellent performance in both attack and defence. Give him an 8!

The back row is still missing something, LOL was terrible when he came on. Obviously still lots of questions about the centers, and who will get dropped upon Robinson's return. But a wins a win, and for this i am very thankful :)

  • 10.
  • At 10:55 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Howard wrote:

A good game overall. The referee was very poor though missing offsides and forward passing from both teams and yet another ref not confident enough to award tries without TMO approval. The England team have really improved and deserved their quarter final place. Was it my eyesight or was the referee wearing an England shirt under his blue shirt (LOL). Well done to Tonga too for bringing the best out of the England team. Hope they don't fall foul of the 16 team rule for 2011 as they have impressed in this World cup.

  • 11.
  • At 10:59 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Elmo wrote:

Quite a skittish performance from England, especially in the first half. Personally I thought, apart from Barkley, Gomarsall had a particularly poor game. Missed tackles (along with several of the team), poor handling and sub standard kicking.
There were glimpses of a team with the potential to get to the semi final at least, but the concentration and consistency is severely lacking to have the big guns quaking in their very large boots.

  • 12.
  • At 11:00 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Harry wrote:

I would've given Moody an 8 or 9 for sheer bloody mindedness. How he gets up from those sorts of hits...And Easter was great on the ball all night-another 8 at the very least. Chuter impressed, and this was, bar that game vs the all blacks at HQ which we narrowly lost, our best in almost 4 years. So higher marks all round methinks!

  • 13.
  • At 11:00 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

What a shocker! There were 16 playing for Eng tonight. Eng possibly would have still won, but sooo many calls were missed in Englands favour that I hope the Ref isn't involved in any further games.

Tonga you were hard-done-by. Sorry guys.

  • 14.
  • At 11:01 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

England played pretty well, but I still think Tait is out of his depth, and Ollie Barkley is out of position. What does Dan Hipkis have to do to get a game?

This game was a step forwards, but this performance wouldnt have been enough against the Aussies, we will need to raise our game again.

  • 15.
  • At 11:01 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • John Tidswell wrote:

I had to watch on TV and listen to the commentary by Barnes who appears to want England to lose. He is over critical of anything our team do and openly supportive of the opposition.
Marks out of 10 -- 1

  • 16.
  • At 11:01 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Barkly is not a 12, England should look to expand this position outside of Barkly and Farrell. Often Tait is wrongly put down when Barkly and Farrell have taken away the valuble space and time needed for Tait to make his impact... As showed with a terrific finish for his first RWC try. Nice to see Wilkinson finish a match and having an impact throughout, a real general on the field. Moody deserves a ten, putting his body on the line countless times for the team. Great outing from Tonga, captain leading team by example...

  • 17.
  • At 11:02 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • David Nixon wrote:

Congratulations to Ben Kay on his 50th cap. A great performance from an understated performer.

  • 18.
  • At 11:04 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Jonny Singer wrote:

Mostly agree, thought Wilko deserved at least 7 for that cross-field kick though.

I think the main problem areas for England against Aus will be the lack of penetration in the centres and the lack of dynamism in the back row.

Lets hope for the miracle of USA beating SA which would leave us playing Wales in the quaters!

  • 19.
  • At 11:06 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Will Oxley wrote:

Much better by England.
Farrell and Tait at last!!!
Please Please no more embarrassment for Lawrence-I want to remember the once great player not the uncertain and ineffectual one we have now.
Not enough in the squad to beat Australia but it should be a game now

  • 20.
  • At 11:07 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Glad to see us go through but its a real shame it was at Tonga's expense. I love the Pacific Island nations they bring something to the world cup that, for some reason, no-one else does. As the match commentators said Tonga can go home with their heads held high. Totally agree.

  • 21.
  • At 11:11 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Richie wrote:

Very good 2nd half performance, Farrell has to come in for the very dissapointing Barkely. We also need a midfield presence to match mortlock. my MOM was Chuter, hit every lineout and made ground with the ball in hand.

  • 22.
  • At 11:12 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • H Hawk wrote:

A delight to see big Faz get on the scoresheet and also get through plenty of good work in defence and attack. He may not be the greatest centre in the world but what his detractors fail to recognise is that the alternatives for the number 12 jersey are virtually non-existent. If we had another Greenwood then fair enough but Catt and Barkley are simply not up to the job. At least Farrell can do the basics right and he adds a bit of presence and size.

  • 23.
  • At 11:13 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • David Wright wrote:

I am just a little surprised by your relatively low rating for Wilkinson. I do agree that he had a mixed bag, but he was the main "influencer" for England. When he got it right England did well. More a 7/8 than a 6.

  • 24.
  • At 11:13 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • MisterDavid wrote:

Good game, wasn't it?

Gomarsall was worth an 8 in my view (and I've never really thought that much of him) - the most visible of the high performers - although I was especially impressed with the locks (great hands in the loose) and the front row were first class. Great lineout for once too.

If Robinson gets fit for next week, he'd come in for Cueto (I'm hoping), leaving inside centre as the biggest call to make. Farrell did his chances the world of good tonight.

  • 25.
  • At 11:16 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • james g wrote:

Way too harsh on Jonny! It is absolutely no coincidence that England look a different team with him there. Yeah he will be dissapointed with himself, but thats because of his enormous standards.

  • 26.
  • At 11:16 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

Were you really watching the game?? Vickery replaced Stephens not Sheridan (and embraced him on leaving the pitch. If you don't fancy doing the job Bryn, I imagine their will be others who do..

  • 27.
  • At 11:16 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • jim wrote:

Bryn you are not looking at the same strengths and weakness as we are.

Big performaces from Chuter 8,Sheridan 8, Gomersall 8, Corry 8, Borthwick 8/7,Moody 9, Wilko 8 and Sackey 9.
Good performances from Stevens 7, Easter 7, Farrell 7 (YES) Lewsey 7/6 Mears 7/6 Kay 7, Vickery may be a 6
Only fair eforts from Barklay 5, Tait 5, Hipkiss 5, Cueto error ridden and lack of purpse 5.

Peripherels from Dayglo 3,

  • 28.
  • At 11:17 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Generally fair ratings, although slightly harsh on Nick Easter I thought. Time after time he caught restart, taking contact, and staying on his feet until the forwards joined, gaining England ground consistently. No credit for making back play look simple? Took his pass, drew his man and set free Matthew Tait.

Barkley was ineffectual, but not that poor. 12 doesn't sit well with him; but I didn't see any real evidence of his defensive weaknesses - this was more apparent in his more famous number 10 counterpart who was still a tad hit-and-miss. A very handy back-up to Jonny, but Farrell showed up with enough intent to warrant a start against the Wallabies at 12.

Plenty to build on. Plenty to improve on. Disappointing to concede 20 - the defensive display didn't warrant 20 points slipping through; and after 79 minutes of bruising defense, the defending champions shouldn't have conceded such a sloppy try.

Credit to the Tongans; absolute first-class attitude towards rugby, the competition, and what it means. Am truly against trimming down the competing world cup teams to the most competent. A number of teams have shown genuine ability to scare opponents that are supposedly streaks ahead (Georgia, Japan, Tonga). It wasn't long ago Tonga were trounced by England, conceding 100 points.

A great weekend of rugby coming up, and it would be great to see all four home nations proceed. I don't think Ireland deserve a place in the last eight, based on their three performances. However, they are always dangerous and a valid member of any knockout stage. They do rely on luck and their 'clique' far too much, but always have a chance on their day. And progress made is a bonus at this stage, and they can hopefully ring the long-awaited changes once the tournament is over. Scotland 2nd XV were gallant against the All Blacks who look beatable. Wales always add flair and excitement to a competition.

England have improved, but Australia are in a different league to England at the moment. I've enjoyed the world cup immensely; it's been vital, with England forming some sort of cohesive unit, although a few more youngsters would have been welcome.I think they will be outclassed by the Wallabies, which is probably a fair time for their defence to end.


  • 29.
  • At 11:17 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Kassra wrote:

yes jonny's kicking at goal was a bit mixed....but in your round up of his performance you failed to comment on his excellent cross field kick that led to Sackey's first try - surely worthy of a mention before you say his performance was a 6. then again - you also failed to note that when barkley screwed his 10m drop goal attempt wide jonny was no-where to be seen, which was ridiculous when we were 2 points down!

  • 30.
  • At 11:20 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Tez wrote:

Thought Andy Farrell's try was great. Also made his presence felt.
Hope this propells him on.

  • 31.
  • At 11:21 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • coops18 wrote:

I think a 6 for Wilkinson is fair, he set things going well but he missed several tackles which is disappointing. Barkley was a 5 for me, he wasn't that bad and spread the ball pretty well. Corry was a 7 and Easter possibly an 8 for me -I've been more than happy to eat my words about him and Paul Sackey, who has also shown up really well.

Did anyone else notice how much better balanced the back row was with someone like Moody in? I think if we play him or Rees, we can look forward to seeing a lot more quick ball like we enjoyed today. Better performance lads, well done.

  • 32.
  • At 11:21 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • adam wrote:

I think people are getting a little carried away. We took 65 mins to get past another minnow who gifted us 2 trys to keep us in the game.
Tonga have done well but it must be remember that there previous games were against 2 other minnows and South Africa B team.
I also fail still to see a game plan forming, the mid field bomb is not going to work against Australia

  • 33.
  • At 11:23 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Jim Samuel wrote:

Why do we have someone called Bryn rating English players? What match was he watching? Yes, England made some basic errors, as have every major side so far, but this was a vastly improved performance against dangerous opponents under massive pressure. To only give Moody a 7 smacks of prejudice and ignorance. Sackey looks to be a real heads-up player and if we can integrate the off-loads on display in the forwards with the running lines of Tait, Sackey and dare I say it Farrell there is definitely some hope here. I'm fed up with the negativity bandied about by everyone and would like to applaud the England team for an entertaining 80 minutes

  • 34.
  • At 11:24 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • rob cornick wrote:

England's performance was clearly much bettr than the previous matches but here are my general observations:
1. Cueto was indecisive and kicked poorly.
2. Sackey played well but why the hell didn't he give Wilkinson a kick in front of the posts? Schoolboy error.
3. The ref didn't keep the Tongans behind the back foot at the breakdown and failed to penalise some shocking tackles.
4. How many times were players in front of the kicker at re-start?
5. It seems that when England are on their feet and reach on to the wrong side they get told to leave the ball alone, but when the Southern Hemi teams do it the refs turn a blind eye.
6. Have you seen any player been allowed to get to his feet when fielding a ball on the deck?#
7. Finally, Barclay and to a degree Tait just don't have the physicality to stop players getting through-that's perhaps the biggest concern in the next match against the Aussies.
8. All said and done, there were phases where England's defensive was excellent and moments of handling that reminded us of England's true potential. Lets hope they have a one of those days where everythig clicks into place when we play the Aussies!

  • 35.
  • At 11:26 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • adam wrote:

I think people are getting a little carried away. We took 65 mins to get past another minnow who gifted us 2 trys to keep us in the game.
Tonga have done well but it must be remember that there previous games were against 2 other minnows and South Africa B team.
I also fail still to see a game plan forming, the mid field bomb is not going to work against Australia

  • 36.
  • At 11:26 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • adam wrote:

I think people are getting a little carried away. We took 65 mins to get past another minnow who gifted us 2 trys to keep us in the game.
Tonga have done well but it must be remember that there previous games were against 2 other minnows and South Africa B team.
I also fail still to see a game plan forming, the mid field bomb is not going to work against Australia

  • 37.
  • At 11:27 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Tez wrote:

#7 - not sure about the bearded one. He was OK fine, but I felt he was knocked back in the tackle a few times.

  • 38.
  • At 11:30 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • seamus wrote:

what reason did the RFU give for not allowing the Tonga team to dye their hair, and if the they came out with green hair, how could they fine a team with no money.

  • 39.
  • At 11:31 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • matt wrote:

Well they answered their critics.and hey Fordy i guess you owe Mr Farrell a little apology. What a dummy and score, he still has it but just needs his confidence back. The pictures at the end showed a squad of guys really up for it, back in the game and wanting to win! Do or die from now on, so bring on those boys from the Bounty!

  • 40.
  • At 11:40 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Martin Evans wrote:

What a clown, Jim Samuel is, there are lots of English people called Gareth & Bryn would you ban them form giving ratings to a very average english team. All England did was kick kick kick. Tait's try was against 14 men very sporting !!.Where would England be without their mate Alain Rolland and his strange understanding of the offside rule. As for Barnes being Anti English don't make me laugh

  • 41.
  • At 11:45 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Martin Evans wrote:

What a clown, Jim Samuel is, there are lots of English people called Gareth & Bryn would you ban them form giving ratings to a very average english team. All England did was kick kick kick. Tait's try was against 14 men very sporting !!.Where would England be without their mate Alain Rolland and his strange understanding of the offside rule. As for Barnes being Anti English don't make me laugh

  • 42.
  • At 11:46 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • me supporting a welshman wrote:

re post 17
why cant we have a welshman giving the ratings he might just be slightly more impartial than a hackneyed old Englishman and to be fair he'll need something to do when the welsh lose to Fiji

Well the whole game really was about who would win... this is knockout rugby now....

We won we play Australia.....full stop!

However we will not win the world cup or even get to the final playing like this...

If we want to retain the cup we will now have to play Q/f vs Australia s/f v New Zealand & Final vs South Africa...

IF (and let's face it... its the everest of ifs....) we could win in those three matches then we would deserve to be World Champions...

However for England to do this from where they are, they would require 3 / 4 players to prove they are actually the best in their position and for a further 3/4 to prove that they are in the best 4 players for their position.

In the current England side only the following could (on their day) even be close to this...

Johnny Wilkinson
Andrew Sheridan
Martin Corry
Ben Kay

However when considering the respective qualities of the other sides then none of these players would (on consistent, current form) be even in the starting XV for a world team.

I hope we beat Australia .. but I wouldnt bet on the result, as I would expect that the spread bet would be a +12 point victory to Australia on current form.

  • 44.
  • At 11:48 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • Dominic wrote:

A bit harsh on Easter who deserves a '7' at the very least and was as good as the rest of the back row players if not better. Otherwise think the ratings are spot on.

Hipkiss for Barkley the only change against Australia? Unless you're going for real mobility in the back row to include Rees?

  • 45.
  • At 11:49 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • UpAndUnderAndOver wrote:

Team to face Aus

1 Sheridan
2 Chuter
3 Stevens
4 Shaw
5 Kay
6 Moody
7 Rees (if fit) Corry if not
8 Easter
9 Gommersal
10 Wilkinson
11 Sackey
12 Farrell (can't believe I said that)
13 Tait
14 Robinson
15 Lewsey (or swap 14 and 15 round)

Unfortunatly I can't see us winning but at least after the last two games we might put up a fight unlike against South Africa where we just rolled over.

  • 46.
  • At 11:50 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • shandy webster wrote:

were you watching a different team performance! Nick Easter was immense and involved in all areas of play, nevermind solid performance he showed some real spirit where other more experienced players have still failed to ignite! Sackey had a good game but is flattered with an 8, after all the second try was caused by a Tongan error. Moody for his endeavour and putting his body on the line for his country as all these men should be deserves an 8, he is a warrior! Lastly, this is Jonny in 3rd gear- bring on the best!

  • 47.
  • At 11:54 PM on 28 Sep 2007,
  • oldman5 wrote:

delighted to see some genuine spontaneity in the play and direction from 9 at breakdowns, and agree with most respondents' dismay at the BBC reviewers scoring. lots of positives - the deft offloading of the forwards particularly pleasing on the eye. 10-12 wilkinson-barkley seems defensively lightweight it must be said, and the whole team needs to be more aggressive in defence and pressurise the ball carrier. lots of potential in the backs - tait, sackey, cueto all showing real threat. for all that, i still think the aussies will score quite a lot against us.

  • 48.
  • At 12:04 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

Moody and Easter deserve 9s, particularly Moody, who apart from his bravery, managed to get to breakdowns everytime without giving penalties.
Backs - still not sure - but they got 4 tries between them so it can't all be bad. Thought the Commentary was poor, kept saying Tait missed tackles when it was Barkley and Wilkinson dropping off them.
For once Ashton got the timing on substitutions right and Farrell and Mears had time to make a positive impact.
Finally the referee was worse than the commentator, he missed loads and was not brave enough to yellow card both sides - Latu's tackle on Moody was a disgrace and ironicallly it was Frenchman that pointed out to Rolland.

  • 49.
  • At 12:07 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Joshua Jackson wrote:

I think a 6 for Easter and Wilkinson is a little harsh. Really inpressed by the boys up front - lots of hard running and offloading in the tackle. Quicker ball.

  • 50.
  • At 12:10 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Grant wrote:

How about a rating for the commentators? Miles Harrison is the most over-bearing, condescending unknowledgable and one eyed embarassment to be dredged up on TV. For a country that has such fantastic football commentators your supposedly leading rugby one is just appalling. Today's game followed the pattern of every other cringe inducing game he calls on. The first penalty infringement by Tonga 20m out and he's calling for a penalty try. Moody hits his head against an opposition thigh and it's "oh what are these heroes made of". Please someone just put him and Mark Nicholson (ch4 cricket) out to pasture somewhere...

(And yes, Murray Mexted is NZ's national embarassment but thankfully on a lesser scale - why ITV chose him instead of guys like Grant Nisbett is just staggering).

As for the England performance - fair play to the guys for at least getting the job done. For a team of mostly average players (Cueto - are you kidding me that he is in your top 3 wingers?) they have at least made it to the quarters.

As a kiwi I'm hoping you can repeat four years ago by boring Australia to death with rumbling forwards and endless kicks, as you sure as heck wont beat them by a backline defence that leaks like a sieve and offers zero on attack.

Australia aren't that flash a team nowadays - provided you can somehow keep Mortlock under control who has continued to be outstanding and the worlds best centre without a doubt. You should have parity in the lineout, the Aussie front row remains a joke so the scrum is yours for the taking. I think you will continue to struggle in the loose though as has been evidenced by every England game since 4 years ago - no-one even remotely in the class of Smith, McCaw or Berger. So expect to see a lot of turnovers against which will cause trouble. With Wilko's boot you always have a chance though...

  • 51.
  • At 12:12 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Anthony Russell wrote:

John at 12; thoroughly agree. One passage: when Easter brilliantly ripped possession from a Tongan lineout catch and made a turnover ; all Barnes mentioned was Jonny's mediocre kick a minute later; it seem's he is very keen to criticise.

  • 52.
  • At 12:16 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • PJ wrote:

Just because he scored a couple of tries hasn't convinced me that Sackey is worth his place. The first one he very nearly blew it, the second one was a straight sprint he was always going to win. But his tackling and decision making are still suspect... Which you could say about most of the team, barring Wilkinson and Gomersall.
Just hope we can wipe the smiles off Aussie faces in the QF!

  • 53.
  • At 12:17 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

what a load of rubbish the world champions beat tonga by 16 points and you would think they had retained the world cup. is there an honest english man out there it was poor play with no flair two tries against the run of play. eight men carrying the ball usa are a better team (thet bit isn't true)

  • 54.
  • At 12:19 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Scott Adams wrote:

That's more like it. Good to see the forwards trundling around in the second half with ball in hand, playing what we in the Marlow Fifth XV used to refer to as 'festival rugby' when the pressure was off. Moody was magnificent and Chuter, who clearly worried the former colonials with his close resemblence to George V, had a great game.
They may not like to admit it, but the Australian's have got a game now- come on the Canadian pack- do some damage for us!

  • 55.
  • At 12:30 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • AndrewL wrote:

This Tongan team really got close to SA- and we just beat them. By 60 mins they looked desperate. I thought it was a really staunch effort- like the England of the early 90's and the early noughties. Tough, alert, fit and everywhere. Tonga never got out of the blocks. I had a funny feeling that the first fifteen minutes didn't mean much. I thought Sheridan had his best game in an England shirt, and probably Moody too (I always think he's a luxury we can't affort). Wilko is still slow and rusty- give his place back to Barkley now!

  • 56.
  • At 12:33 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • aurora snow wrote:

I know England fan's expectations have taken a battering over the last 4 years but for crying outloud you were playing Tonga in favourable conditions. You have no chance against the Aussies playing like that, absolutley none at all. I mean zero, nada, zilch. It will be a case of bye bye, and frankly from a neutral's pov good riddance, a more boring side to watch you will not find at this world cup.

  • 57.
  • At 12:43 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • AndrewL wrote:

How does Aurora snow so much? How does it know that England won't give the Ozzies a scare like Tonga did to SA? It doesn't know of course. Thats why sports is worth watching. I don't know if people with silly psuedonyms like Aurora snow should be allowed to make comments on an estimable site like this.

  • 58.
  • At 12:46 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Martyn wrote:

Good result, Tonga better than my 20 point start but only because of late try.

So, where are we now, Brian Ashton's permanent morning after question.

Starting front row fine, with Vickery on bench.

Second row, perm any two from three, depending on requirement for game, probably Kay and Borthwick as ugliest pair out of the three.

Back row, as started today, with Worsley and Rees on bench, to cover physical/speed as necessary.

Half backs as selected - no question.

Back three, Robinson on left wing if genuinely fit and keep Sackey on other wing. He is not entirely convincing in defence but scores tries, unlike Cueto who is ditto but doesn't score tries, at least to press.

Lewsey at full back - please.

The centres - can't help thinking that although they haven't played together, Catt and Hipkiss are the right combination with Barkley and one of Farrell and Tait on the bench.

I do think that the Aussies will not be relishing a match with England, who are their bogey team relatively speaking, likewise the All Blacks will not be relishing a match with the French, especially with their powder puff preparation to date.

What price an England v France semi final, Mr P. Power, preferably on a dull, cool, wet Parisian evening ?

  • 59.
  • At 12:57 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • darran mather wrote:

faz has been toe-to-toe with the working class hard-geezers ie the kangaroos so the posh-boy wallabies won't intimidate him in the slightest. he's been there and done it on many occasion. gomarsall,wilks, farrell, hipkiss, sackey and robinson - speed and experience

we need strong defences in the backline - a top priority and barkley couldn't tackle a bag o chips

forwards looked ok - a little confidence and they'll do ok against the public school boys from aussie land

our 15 can have them on our day

  • 60.
  • At 01:04 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Karl wrote:

Well it is an improvement sort of. We won all the line outs but then every single one was unopposed. I'd never seen a team stand off from the maul as much as Tonga and be so successful. Why was this? England's one dimensional mind set is still set to a 1987 style of play. I agree with some of the marks awarded. Barclay was naff - again. 4 was generous. About time he was dropped. Farrell made a difference when he came on, much to my amazement. Even more amazing, by half time I was desperate to get him on the pitch. Wilko was solid other than a few kicks and he controlled the backline as much as possible. Pity the backline couldn't control itself. I was astonished to see that Tait can run forwards. It's the first time this world cup, isn't it?

Some of the tactics were naive yet again. The Up and Under almost continuously?? Come on, there has to be some variety against Australia or we will be hammered. I was really disappointed in the wingers because defensively they are clueless. But Sackey impressed me a bit more this week and got a couple of easy tries. So well done to him. Cueto has been useless from the start. Maybe the step up to international world cup level is too steep for some of these guys?

The back row are still way too short on pace. If England are going to put punch bags Easter and Corry up against Smith and Elsom, then I can only ever see one winner. Moody played well when he was conscious! The front 5 were fine but the opposition were ordinary. I was impressed by Chuter again. He's been England's pack star 2 weeks in a row.

We need to get our tactics right against Australia. The only way to beat them is 100 miles an hour 15 man rugby (i.e. not the geriatric pace we are currently managing), no mistakes, no indecision, no missed tackles or kicks. I have yet to see any of these from the current England squad - we can't run, pass, catch, kick or think. I'm hoping for a miracle but am expecting a 20-30 point thumping. And I live in Sydney so I'm going to get it in the neck for 4 long year especially if the Aussies win the world cup from my mates since I've been dishing it out solidly for the last 4 years!

  • 61.
  • At 01:06 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • peppykiwi wrote:

Hum, Tonga has a population of 190,000, enough for one smallish English city. Put aside the individual brilliance of the Wilkinson - Sackey try and Tonga's gift to Sakey, and the score-line was about 24-20. I thought the English forward pack outplayed the Tongan forward pack, but the Tongan backline showed consistently more attacking flair overall than the English backline. Remember, Tonga is a tiny Pacific island nation: England are (still) the world champions.

No grounds for English pride that I can see. On present form, the Australians will chew the English into little pieces and use their bones for tooth-picks.

Congratulations to Tonga: a great effort all round.

  • 62.
  • At 01:11 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Tom Go Wallabies!!! wrote:

Good game England and well done to TOnga for having their best ever WC. However i can tell by a lot of these posts and the negative style of talking from England's players that they are playing in a way that they are scared to lose rather than a way in which they are willling to take risks to win a game. The game against the Wallabies in the QF will be tough on England and i cant see them winning. None of their performances have been convincing. Instead England fans seem to grip onto some sort of lingering hope left over from 2003 which is a negative way of thinking. It will be a good first 40 mins becuase both teams love playing eash other no matter what the tournament or game. But as an Aussie I dont rate our rivalry with England anymore. NZ is the most imoportant rivalry we have now i feel. In saying that, it is thanks to Sheridan for teaching Australia how to srum 2005 he and the England front pack humilated us and taught us a harsh lesson. Now our srum is better and wewll drilled. Once again England has shown another country how to beat them in a sport! Looking forward to watching an Aussie victory and meeting hopefully the All Blacks in the semi!!!

  • 63.
  • At 01:16 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

Oddly low mark for Easter, he was up there with Gomarsall (also hard done by) and Sackey as England's best players.

Also slightly odd that Farrells cameo (decent though it was) ranks up there with players (Tait, Gommarsal [again] and the whole front row for example) who were far more influential for far longer. But I guess it is hard to compare players who play most of the game and substitutes.

  • 64.
  • At 01:45 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

As a Welshman I was firmly behind the Tongans tonight, but England impressed me! Thought they were very good and the ratings given above don't give justice to several excellent performances.

The English back row, so often a weakness, was very good tonight, led by Nick Easter who had a superb game and was my man of the match. Lewis Moody wasn't far behind him either, England miss his pace and his go forward attitude when he's not playing. His part in Englands first try should not go unnoticed - he was the one who chased down the re-start, won it, and helped create turmoil in the Tongan defence, which ultimately led to Sackey scoring in the corner.

Gomersall was very good, putting some good box kicks in, and some good decision making - but most of all for his defensive work at scrum time. England clearly did their homework on the Tongans and Gomersall completely nullified the threat of Maka from the base of the scrum.

Still can't see that there will be enough of an improvement in time to beat Australia, but England have got the right man in place in Brian Ashton, and I'm sure that they will go on to bigger and better things under his leadership (unfortunately!).

  • 65.
  • At 02:00 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Brit in the colonies wrote:

This has been touched on a bit already but I just want to reiterate that Sackey is rubbish! One catch in the corner unmarked - which was more quick thinking by jonny than Sackey skill, and the ability to pick up a rugby ball and run 100 metres and even then he couldn't remember to go under the posts. To offset this he's lazy and can't tackle. I hope Robinson is fit, though it's difficult to know which of our mediocre wingers to get rid of.

Is anyone else just relieved to get to the QF and anything else is just a bonus? We've been the 3-4th best team in the 6 nations over the last 4 years. It seems only people who haven't watched rugby since the last world cup were expecting more.

Final point it's lovely to see us with a decent hooker, after the very average Thompson and Regan, Chuter looks to be someone we can rely on. Besides we want more beards in Rugby.

  • 66.
  • At 02:10 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • AdamS wrote:

Ok so England have been boring at times but it's taking knee-jerk southern hemisphere trashtalking a little far to call this game boring. There was a lot of sharp handling and running, I'm not going to pretend it's up to Southern hemisphere standards but give credit where it's due, England looked much improved and made some nice moves like Wilko's kick to Sackey for the try.

  • 67.
  • At 02:17 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • AdamS wrote:

Ok so England have been boring at times but it's taking knee-jerk southern hemisphere trashtalking a little far to call this game boring. There was a lot of sharp handling and running, I'm not going to pretend it's up to Southern hemisphere standards but give credit where it's due, England looked much improved and made some nice moves like Wilko's kick to Sackey for the try.

  • 68.
  • At 02:49 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • happyish for now wrote:

Surprised by the amount of negative comments on this post i for one never expected great things of this England side but to be fair for patches they played some pretty good rugby, against Australia who have a shocking front 5 we have a chance just need the backs to gel a bit better and who knows

  • 69.
  • At 02:59 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • happymartins wrote:

I see someone was complaining baout having to listen to Stuart Barnes commentary! Well I reckon you got of likely, I watched the game on TV3 in New Zealand and the commentary was by "that bloke that does the Athletics on BBC1 and "expert" analysis from David Sole (not the one from Starskey and Hutch either) Needless to say he really enjoyed Englands slow start to the game!! He went mad when Sackey's 1st was awarded and said his second came from offside play. He basically slated England and disagreed evertime we got a pen!!

I'll watch the Aussie game with the sound turned off I reckon!!

  • 70.
  • At 03:31 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Bryn Palmer wrote:

Many thanks to James (blog 26) for pointing out my factual innacuracy. I vividly remember Vickery coming on and embracing Stevens as he replaced him, so why I wrote he came on for Sheridan, I don't know. The lateness of the hour perhaps. These 9pm kick-offs local time are a nightmare! But that error has now been rectified.

To Jim Samuel, would it help if I changed my name to Bryan?! I'd like to think our RWC blog is a little more inclusive than that! My parents are both English if that helps.

A general feeling seems to be I've been a bit harsh on Wilkinson and Easter. Yep, I guess you could argue both deserved a seven, and I did omit to mention both Wilko's cross-kick for Sackey's first try, and Easter's scoring pass for Tait.

Ben suggested Easter was 'really solid' and deserved an 8. On my scale for ratings I'd say 'solid' is a 6, 'very good' a 7 (plenty of those), 8 'excellent', 9 'outstanding' and 10 out of this world.

Interesting that some of you thought Gomarsall deserved higher than a 7, whereas Elmo thought he had a 'particularly poor game'. You see, it's all subjective ultimately, which is why this forum gives everyone a chance to air their views.

  • 71.
  • At 03:56 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Alex wrote:

it appears that having a run of superbly "impartial" refs on the same side can do wonders for the team & national moral.

  • 72.
  • At 04:18 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Choddy wrote:

Lol needs to be kept in a suit on the sidelines - the easter moody and worsley combo with corry on bench signals the end for LOL

  • 73.
  • At 04:23 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

The necessary improvement in the English loose forwards was there to give them some hope against the Wallabies.

I agree that Corry (covering lock), Moody and Easter should start with Worsley and Rees on the bench.

But the mid-field defence still looks suspect to Gitteau and Mortlock (and running off him Latham). And LT is coming back into some sort of form and may track in on the midfield cut (the other one is a blind-side kick and chase sort of threat).

They will miss Larkham, but unless England can contain Mortlock it will be difficult for England.

I cannot see Barkley and Tait doing it. But not many can.

Can Farrell play centre on defence and contain Mortlock? Can Farrell and Tait learn to work on defence? Can the loosies support Farrell and Farrell help Tait?

Can Farrell bring the English wingers (Robinson and Sackey?) on runs from the blind-side wing?

Farrell is a gamble - but so was his transfer and one either keeps digging into the QF or one does not.

I hope England can do it, Australia has a 50/50 chance of taking an all ANZAC game with the still under-done AB's (who should be about big match ready for the final against South Africa if they get that far).

  • 74.
  • At 05:25 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

A 16 point win over a tired Tongan side is no great achievement for a team hoping to hold their own against Australia. And let's not forget 14 of those points were gifted to England. As much as I would like to see England do well, the team is simply not at all good enough. Sackey, Barkley, Tait and Farrell just don't have what it takes I'm afraid.

  • 75.
  • At 05:26 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • joe wrote:

@ Karl

"we can't run, pass, catch, kick or think"

err, excuse me, what planet are you on???? what a ridiculous statement.

@ happymartins:

"I watched the game on TV3 in New Zealand and the commentary was by "that bloke that does the Athletics on BBC"

I agree!!! The commentary on TV in NZ was the worst I have ever heard!

And I can't believe people are giving paul sackey a hard time.. hello!! 4 tries in two games people! and this talk of him being poor defensively is rubbish, I can't remember him making one defensive mistake this tournament!

  • 76.
  • At 05:34 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Graham Morgan wrote:

Only read about Englands game against Tonga on the Internet and from what I read it seems that without Wilko they don't have the team effort.
Wales at least try every game to play a s fifteen players.
Be interesting to see how Wales perform against South Africa and progress further

  • 77.
  • At 05:47 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

The RUWC is now a success for England. All that needs to be done now is a good performance against the Aussie - we can hope to win, but would be a big surprise. And then start building for 2011- and out with the oldies.

SACKEY- can you imagine an England Football striker getting the same amount of stick for scoring 2ce in back to back world cup pool games. So he nearly messed up the first one? I reckon he showed great skill to get it down half an inch inside the line. And the second - Tonga's backs were awful in the passing stakes- SA made mistakes here too against England, but covered brilliantly- how good it was to see and England player able to run 3/4s the pitch and score a try.

CENTRES- just put 2 big lads who can tackle all game in there and occasionally threaten to break the line. Farrell must play, Barkley on the bench as back up to Wilkinson.

COMMENTATORS- I found the 'British' NZtv3 team much better than the normal kiwi version of Hamish Mckay - who is undoubtedly the worst, most biased and least knowledgeable commentator ever (for any sport).

HIGH TACKLE ON MOODY? the only decision I thought was harsh (obv apart from the forward pass setting up the last Tongan try!) - the Tongan captain just lined up an obvious pass, Moody saw him coming and cringed and was totally monstered- I thought that was what Rugby was all about! No arms about the neck or head, just a really good enveloping tackle done at pace with power- as you'd expect if you were tackling the No7.

Anyway- well done England, just keep working on making fewer and fewer mistakes, dont miss tackles and make the Aussie's work hard to beat you.

.. and well done Tonga, only the English and a few hundred plump French chickens would have wanted you to lose!

  • 78.
  • At 06:44 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Singleton wrote:

I accept that most of the England players performances were mixed, but there is a massive improvement taking place. Wilko was not perfect but at crucial moments in the game he turned things our way, the drop goals, some great tackles, and a lot of good work in getting to ruck situations and securing possession, but also his decision making and control were vital for England.And despite the odd mistake this is what makes him a world class player, and a leader for the team. Lets not forget the contribution of Gommarsal who did some great spoiling work around the fringes to hold back Tonga in attack.But the big moment for me really was seeing Farrell score a gem of a try right under the posts. He was so eager to get on the field, and you just senced that he would do some good things, and he did. Not just the try but he is a great passer, skillful tackler, and can kick well too. For me now this is a different England with fire and resilience restored. If they can take another step forward next week we are in for a real thriller against the Aussies.

I've been in Australasia for nearly a year now, and regularly get Pommie bashing wind-ups from Aussies. The standard retort I have developed is to question why they keep talking about Poms, when back in England we never talk about Aussies at all, except when we are beating them in rugby world cups. Its a very effective parry, and I would dearly like to be able to continue with it for the next 4 years. So, England team, please take note!

  • 80.
  • At 06:59 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jarvo wrote:

A fair reflection on the game. However England better do some work on lineouts and opening up defences. At at least two lineouts the Tongans stood two metres back and waited for England who won the line out and never drove at the Togans. In the second one with not a Tongan in site, Chuter managed to give away a penalty - it reminded me of Homer Simpson -as did Cueto's greedy attempt for the line with a player in the clear outside him. No 9 and No 7 were the best two players for England and the overall performance warranted a six. But England will have to construct some tries against Aus or else it's cutains. Still Robinson for Cueto, Hipkiss for Barkley and we might take some shape

  • 81.
  • At 07:12 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • SF wrote:

re PJ 52. Wrong call I think mate. Sackey's taking the ball on the slide made it possible to ground the first try - That was the quick thinking of a natural finisher. For sure it was the same Sackey who should have landed the second try 10m nearer the posts but overall he made ground when space was tight and the ball came back our way when he took it in. Can't say the same of Cueto who surely will be the one to go once Robinson's fit.

  • 82.
  • At 07:17 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Singleton wrote:

In response to Arni: I am not as far away as you, (the Netherlands)but have to put up with my share of pommie bashing. Last night I watched the game in a pub in Leiden, and the fist time England scored a try I was treated to some fairly unpleasant language (in Dutch so they might have thought they were not being understood). Not from Tongan supporters,simply from people who don't like the English per se. It always surprises and disapoints but there are quite a few of those people around! Thankfully the English team gave a more eloquent response on the pitch than I could have done in the pub. I hope the same will be the case next week too.

  • 83.
  • At 07:20 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Woody wrote:

Well done England. Short term goal achieved.... to the QF in Marseilles. Some excellent personal 'building' performances (all mentioned above) and a far better team platform on which to build for Saturday.

The fitness / stamina looks good; the commitment and 'team' element is much in evidence; the collective control & performance of the front 5 was excellent and will undoubtedly shape the result of this game.

Any complacency ends right here....

Australia provides a different challenge to virtually any other side in the RWC, however..... that of mental hardness. They have an ability to conjure something from nothing (remember the fateful 2nd Lions Test in Melbourne in 2001 when the Lions snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory c/o Joe Roff?!).

England's focus, concentration and sense of purpose, incl primacy on the pitch, can be nothing short of a 'before; during & after the final whistle job on Saturday. Anything less... the smallest quarter given, will be brutally punished and more.

What's happened is history, Saturday has to be the whole team selected coming in with 8-10s. As an option I still promote JL&JR at 12&13 and Faz at 15 as a potent attack force.

Final poser.... does anyone share a view about S hemisphere packs' tactics when under pressure? E.G. when England build up a 'rumble' moving forwards, do you notice bodies deliberately falling prostrate on the ground to trip/collapse forward momentum. The upcoming match is on a different plane to the ones we have had in build up and if teams transgress they need to be disciplined according to the Laws of the game. The RWC referees need to have this aspect plus scrummaging well and truly sorted.

Best of luck lads...... get out and win the next one and prove the non-believers wrong!

  • 84.
  • At 07:24 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • grumpy old man wrote:

C'mon guys! England controlled the game for an hour and scored 4 trys against a team that lost to SA by the bounce of a ball. I freely admit that I was horribly wrong in my forecast yesterday, and join the "Experts" in the egg-on-face enclosure. Am I the only one who thinks that Barnesy is rapidly becoming the Murray Walker of Rugby? Some of his comments during the game seemd to owe less to his undoubted knowledge of the game and more to a convivial afternoon!
Don't write us off against the Aussies. They don't have a tight 5, and could be starved of good possession at the set play, esp if the ref picks up on them putting the ball in at their second rows' feet, and throwing in to the scrumhalf at the lineout. Oz will need all their chicanery ( No. 1 in the world at conning the ref) to win this one if we pick our fastest back row- Rees, Moody and Easter with Worsley in reserve. Even George Smith can't work ALL his magic from a back-peddling scrum.

  • 85.
  • At 07:53 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

well done england!, scraping past Tonga (pop. 100,000) is a real achievement!

  • 86.
  • At 07:57 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Hooray! England's backs performed "A MOVE"! i.e.a dummy loop: Jonny for Farrell's try! Can we see some more basics,please like scissors, dummy scissors & loops? Most competent schools manage these at U13 level.

  • 87.
  • At 08:09 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • raedarius wrote:

Bryn, however you explain your marking system, it doesn't change the fact that, by your marks, Easter was joint weakest England forward in that match. That was clearly not the case.

  • 88.
  • At 08:12 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

I really can't see that sackey deserved more than a 6. both of his tries were examples of being in the right place at the right time. why the hell didn't he score under the posts after his second try?? he also dubious defensively and responsible for tonga's first try..

  • 89.
  • At 08:44 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Buckley wrote:

from this humble paddy I say hats off to England for putting in a thoroughly professional performance which surprised me. I had Tonga to win this one. I said at the start of this WC that England would be the dark horses.... such was their poor form coming into it that there would be very little pressure on them. I think this has helped them as you can see them get better and better and more confident in each game. One thing is crucial tho'.... Jonny boy. England are a shadow of a team without him. His marshalling of his back-line in particular I found impressive last night.
I have some Aussies mates here in Singapore who are licking their lips at the prospect of facing them now in QF with revenge for '03 deep on their minds. I'm not so sure it will be so cut and dried tho'. If England continue their improvement as they have it will be a very close call of a game.

  • 90.
  • At 08:47 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • tom 333 wrote:

team to face austrailia

1 Sheridan
2 Chuter
3 Stevens
4 Corry
5 Kay
6 Moody
7 Rees
8 Worsley
9 Gomarsall
10 Wilkinson
11 Sackey
12 Farell
13 Hipkiss
14 Lewsey
15 Robinson

ratings are ok corry 8 moody 9 gomarsall 8 easter 7

  • 91.
  • At 09:00 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • David HURST wrote:

Anyone notice Gommarsal's horrible passing to Wlikinson ?

Several times Jonny had to pluck the ball out from over his head, and a quicker back row would have mullered him right under the rib cage.
Gommers, practise your passing before the Aus game.

Respect for sackey, four tries in two games, fair enough, but cream-puff tackling allowed tonga's first try.
I realise Wilko also missed a previous tackle on this move ... but his actually slowed the player somewhat, allowing other defender to get close in, only for the next defender (sackey) to open the floodgates and allow some momentum ... hence difficulty for Barkley to stop at the end.

Sackey, practise your tackling this week, and rememmber when you're clear, get your @rse under the posts ... next week, the extra two points will make the difference !

If we can sort these two areas out (sackey and gommers tighten up their professionalism) ... and Farrel can play 80 like he did his 30(finally on form), Robbo back in the team ....

.... hey, might just pull this off against the aussies !

  • 92.
  • At 09:00 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • clare wrote:

I thought that Wilkinson's score was harsh. England are a far more composed team with him in.

Gommersal - overly generous. He is one of the poorest scrum halfs in the last 8 and it shows.... please stop kicking and leave it to Johnny.

  • 93.
  • At 09:07 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Michael Roberts wrote:

Still not convinced by Shakey Sakey - but maybe some of that is down to the poor service he gets from the rest of the back line.
For me Easter was man of the match - excellent aggressive, attacking loose play
Wilkinsons kicking place/goal kicking was poor - but good to see his brain back on the pitch.

  • 94.
  • At 09:16 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • steve wrote:

few ideas from the game

barkley- big girl when it matters
dallaglio- basic mistakes when he came on last night (lost ball at 8 and knocked on)
sackey - good finisher but must take the ball in low when he is forced to run back to the pack

but its a knockout now so bring on the aussies

  • 95.
  • At 09:24 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • mozza wrote:

Most of the scores are ok but how can you give Johnny 6 and Andy Farrell 7! the first try was down to his foresight alone and his distrbution and kicking although not perfect was much better, i notice you pick out the only tackle he missed what about the other big hits!throughout the game.
Corrys 6 is frankly wrong i am well aware he isnt the best in the world but he played well and does deserve some credit for playing above himself, and grabbing the team by the scruf of the neck in winning the last two crucial matches.

  • 96.
  • At 09:27 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Davies wrote:

I must have been watching a different game. Thought that Wilko had an appalling game and appears to be relying on reputation to get in the side. Need to sort out their midfield or Mortlock, Giteau and co will have a field day up the middle.

Well done on the win though and well done to the mighty Tongans who have been outstanding

  • 97.
  • At 09:33 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

The performance last night was better - we had to win and we did. The QF will be tough but I honestly believe the whole side is building some momentum. Wilkinson makes a massive difference to the side - as he did in 2003. So what if it takes one man to lift the whole team - whats the problem!.

Also I don't buy in to all this stuff about Tonga being a small country and therefore we should steamroller them. Most if not all of their players (and those of the other smaller nations) ply their trade in decent teams in the UK, France or other major Rugby nations. Its a consequence of the game going professional.

Roll on Friday - it won't be pretty but after last night I believe we can win.

  • 98.
  • At 09:34 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jeremy Livitt wrote:

Phil - I don't know what you're on about saying that the ref had a bad day and there were 16 on the field in England's favour.

We were obviously watching a different game. The ref was ok I thought without being spectacular.

Maybe you're a biased South African, Aussie or New Zealander who simply wants England to lose.

If not, I can't really see what you're on about.

I'm inclined to agree with the ratings.

Wilkinson and Easter could have had a higher rating from a more generous reviewer but this should be seen in comparison with the opposition we will be facing in the tournament.

Wilkinson's place kicking was poor and it will be vital next week if we are to progress. Easter looks far too slow for someone at the back of the scrum - he may have got away with it here but he will have to be much more dynamic vs Australia.

And I agree Sackey is poor defensively - but the fact is beggars can't be choosers. With Strettle out, we have very few other options and his attacking game is superb if he gets the opportunities.

Yes - we are vastly improved on our previous recent performances but quite frankly that's not saying much.

Not bad performance but much much more to do

  • 99.
  • At 09:38 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • spooner wrote:

I'll ignore the usual "blame the ref" comments, pathetic.
And Fred (85), yes, Tonga has a small population but by that puerile logic, should it have been a USA v Japan final and why do NZ do so well?
Most of their players are now professional, and good ones but in the end, their smaller squad ran out of steam, as most pundits, biased or otherwise, expected.
But to make that happen, England needed to get the basics right, which, for most of the time, they did.
4 tries put away by the backs and still the same old cricism - "kick, kick, kick". Change the record!
Individually, I still see some people giving Tait some stick, don't see why on the basis of this performance, looked sharp at times and solid in defence.
I hope Farrell has silenced some of his critics, I know the Tongans were tiring but I think his physicality is needed against Mortlock. I'm not comparing their respective abilities (wouldn't dare) but they are a similar breed of centre.
So try them both from the start?
Cueto is out of form, so if Robinson is fit, I'm sure that will be the swap. Pity in a way, if Cueto had been given the same opportunities as Sackey, in the last 2 games, I think he would have finished them too.
In the pack, Easter was strong and solid again, I think he's getting some stick as a lot of people these days expect an 8 to be more visible, more dynamic. With the state of the English game at the moment, I think strong and solid is fine for now.
Maybe put Rees on the bench instead of Lol and leave Vickery and Mears on the bench.
Chances? Slight.
Even if Oz get slightly less good ball from their pack, I think they can do more with it, a mixture of class, experience and athleticism outside. They will have to have a bad day at the office to lose.
Just hope that England give them a decent game, put pressure on the Oz pack at set piece, get to the ruck a bit quicker, do the basics right and cut out the errors. Not much then.
Bon courage!

  • 100.
  • At 09:43 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • TP wrote:

Sackey unproven-especially under pressure from them Aussies. Goes into challenges too high...get them facial features re-configuered! Barkley unimpressive again....I see the moans about Gomarsall, but who else would step into his least he steps up and gets counted... and he never shuts up! Wilko had an average game, but he was integral to all the moves that mattered...he will put some kicking practice in this week and his percentages will increase next game. Easter was strong and gaining in self-belief every game, Moody wanted to die on the pitch (again) putting his body on the line! Don't touch the pack...they played Tonga off the park! Lets pray for rain next week, some inspirational team talks and training for our squad, and an off day for them over-confident Aussies....

  • 101.
  • At 09:49 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • M Ashford wrote:

Most of the ratings are not too far from the mark, but I have to agree with almost everybody else - you've obviously got some peronal grudge against Easter. With the possible exception of Sackey, nobody else should have scored more.

Powerful driving forward, great offloads in the tackle and an all round solid performance which gained us many, many yards over the course of the game... 6? I dont think so.

  • 102.
  • At 09:50 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • ian macko wrote:

England look better throwing the ball around if the forwards can get the go forward and create a platform for the backs,then that gives the backs room to run teams ragged.Well Done Faz,if you can give the man the ball he causes alot of damage.

  • 103.
  • At 10:04 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Reed wrote:

Sackey 8 - give me a small break. He made little impression throughout the game,his body position when running into traffic was poor, he needs to work on that. Regarding his first try,it was the kick that made it. Fine Sackey managed to cling on and dot down, surely though not exactley a hard task. The second try a 75 metre straight run to the line for an england winger with a centre chasing who'd just made two strong surges into englands midfield, again was not the stuff of dreams. Plus little attemp to really steam in under the posts. What would Rocoko, Howleet or Gear done? Gomersall should have many more caps than he has espaecially over last 2-3 years, he always provides game knowledge and lets face it the abilty to link productively nearly everytime he receives the ball. Dallaglio 6 you must be joking expect you call him "Lawrence". Still a fair player in the right team, but posturing four years after the event is not sufficient. Easter 6 if you look back generally has good games against weaker players although he surely should have another notch up on a "6" . He would be a better player when we finally get aback row sorted out that actually has true balance. Corry 6. I still find it hard to work out what additional attributes he brings to this team, that other members of the squad do not possess?

  • 104.
  • At 10:09 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • kwa444 wrote:

Finally we have the semblance of a settled team and the result shows it. More importantly there is a competition for some places now and we got to see who could cut the mustard from the bench.

With Shaw to return, we can safely say goodbye to LOL - very ineffectual replacement. Farrell finally showed what the league boys rate him for, and can make a huge impact from the bench. Tait showed he has the game, just needs his 12 to be effective in lines and offload in attack. There is definitely a bit of confidence in the team.

Gomersall was alright, but not up to his usual standards, and Barclay was a pity. When Robinson is back I think Cueto may drop to the bench, with Lewsey returning to wing.

Pack was a lot better with Stevens at TH than Vickery - quite noticeable in the set pieces, not as bad in the loose.

  • 105.
  • At 10:22 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

A few strange comments I think, how Tait got a 7 and Easter a 6 is beyond me, Tait was absent in the first half and only scored a try because Easter was the first Englishman this tour to run a line like an Inside Centre. Easter also put in a big hit in the first half that has gone unnoticed, which is strange as they were smashing through us all night long, and he covered as many yards as anyonhe else on the pitch. The whole back row were excellent, if anyone watched the Tongan back row against Samoa and Suoth Africa they were awesome, tonight they were hardly seen.
Was Sackeys defense any worse than anyone else? He has scored two tries twice, give the fella a break. pleased Farrell scored and looked up for it (needs to work on that rush defense though), but would have been the same if he started, those tongans had been smashing into us for an hour before he came on so not sure his performance is worthy of a starting place?
Gommers also deserves more credit, yes he missed a couple of tackles, but he also made a few, disrupted their 5m scrum when a try was aslmost certain, and along with the backrow, made sure their backrow had no decent ball. Agree Cueto is toast when Robinson is back. Not sure about Barkley, possibly a litle harsh on him, lets be honest farrell had about 6 times to prove himself there and didn't now we all want him back for a decent half hour against a tiring side? Oz will play a little different so a more mobile 12 than Farrell may be what is called for.

  • 106.
  • At 10:31 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Will wrote:

I'm shocked to see easter only getting a six he deserved a seven at least. Johnny deserved a seven if only for getting the line moving and the cross field kick. Other than that fair enough. Would be intrested to know who people think should start at inside centre. Even though olly is not a natural there i would be inclined to start with him.

  • 107.
  • At 10:41 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Alastair Chambers wrote:

England good game, a huge improvement!!

Do not rate Moody - too small and weak,gets around the pitch well, but when he makes it to the breakdown he has nothing to give. Not much power or strength. The only reason he gets hurt so much is because he is not up to the job.

  • 108.
  • At 11:03 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jeffers wrote:

I think we need to keep our feet on the ground, so far we have failed to impress against two nations where the combined total population is probably less than the number of people playing rugby here at home. Our form is not good and I'm sure we will be brought down to ground with a hard bump against Australia :(( We should not kid ourselfves, we attribute everything and pin our hopes on Johnny. It's true that we'd never have won the world cup last time without him because we played an appallingly dull game geared up to get penalties for him to score points and even then we were lucky to get past Wales and then beat Australia in the final. It wont happen again because we are no longer capable of playing that dull, but effective, game so Wilkinson will not get enough points to see us home and we cannot score enough tries , we simply don't have the talent against the best teams. As for Wilkinson he should just accept he's not near the best kicker and stop complaining about the balls. Ireland has a kicker and Scotland has two who have missed nothing or only rarely. Patterson, O'Gara and Parks are all superior to our Johnny, let's face it, their records speak for themselves.

I hope England can change, I'd rather see us lose playing exciting and entertaining rugby rather than see us win playing the dull game we have become accustomed to in the last decade.

  • 109.
  • At 11:04 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • David Cooper wrote:

Scores about right - good assessment of each player's contribution as well.

Not many deserved a 7 or 8 - it was a fairly mechanical performance with relatively little flair. Just the basics done well, although Sackey's first try did look good on the replay.

England always too strong for the Tongans; their real test will come next week when they meet Australia though.

See you at the Skirrid Inn one day!

  • 110.
  • At 11:10 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Gay wrote:

What a great forum as always. Such informed and sensible comment.

I was delighted to see No 15 - just after the match I texted my daughter to say the only black mark on the whole affair was SBs comments. Mind you it is typical if ITV who think they have to make a sensation every 3 minutes or people won'nt watch any more. When will the RU learn that the best coverage does not necessarily come from broadcasters who pay the most. The aim of the braodcasting should ultimately be to make more people play or support the game. If I were a new viewer I would have had second thoughts about coming back aftet listening to the inaneties coming from SB.

Finally - Lewis Moody - not only brave beyond the call of duty but a good performance as well. 9

  • 111.
  • At 11:29 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Henry Church wrote:

did you not spot Paul Sackey's woeful defence for the Tongan try?

This area of his game is as bad as it was vs SA

Lol - no impact

For me England still have a big problem at centre; last night they struggled to contain an attacking Tonga and rarely troubled them in attack. I would keep Tait but would play Farrel or Catt alongside him. The flanker situation also needs resolving; Moody played himself in and for once didn't give away penalties. For me Worsley should partner him; Corry's and Dallaglio's performances are OK at best. Lets hope Robinson is OK to play; I don't rate Cueto and would play Hipkiss in preference.The kicking game needs sorting out; wayward kicks against the aussies will be severely punished.

  • 113.
  • At 11:45 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Will Critchlow wrote:

Anyone else find that the particularly annoying thing about Barnes & ITV is their OTT praise and obvious love of all things French, when I'm sure 90% of their audience want nothing more than to see the Frenchies exposed as the limited outfit they are and bundled out of their own tournament.

  • 114.
  • At 11:54 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Tari Mkondo wrote:

MOODY!MOODY!MOODY!The Man Of The Match.l firmly believe that the forwards,won the match for England.Johnny's mere presence restored the confidence that England was lacking since 2003.Sackey,was well aware and jacked up last night,although l agree with a previous commentator,that his second try he should have gone for under the post-schoolboy error.WorldCup tournaments are about making the limited chances work,like Johnny does when he kicks.l believe the rain later on helped England,as know one play as well as England in such wet conditions. The centres played well,but need to attack more and tackle harder.If Moody once again wasn't always were the loose breaks were,England would have been in trouble as the Tongans had too much Turn-over ball in the Rucks.But overall a jolly good performance, by the top lads.

  • 115.
  • At 11:59 AM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Tinoflyer wrote:

I can't believe so many people are having a bit of a dig at Sackey.

Defensively he is a bit weak, but thats the flip side of being such an attacking threat. He is scoring tries for fun at the minute. Lewsey has not scored in 18 tests but is defensively awesome.

We can't be critical of Sackey, everytime he got the ball he got the crowd excited, and he at least gives the impression that something may happen.

Given whats happened over recent times - I am just glad to be expecting something to happen from the backline - as opposed to wondering what aimless attack will happen next.

Good on Sackey - good to have some penetration for a change.

  • 116.
  • At 12:08 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • matthew wrote:

well i wasn't suprised to see england win with the majority of the game played in the usual up your jumper boring style we have all come to expect. the one piece of play i was impressed by was the huge lob of the ball from johnny wilko to set up paul sakeys first try. the rest was crap and it wasn't until tonga were worn down that england played some mediocre rugby.
i despise most things about the england set up, from george chuters beard to the ridiculous commentary from Barnes and Greenwood. lets hope that england have a huge turnaround in players after this world cup and retire some of their dinosaurs.

  • 117.
  • At 12:15 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jack Stevens wrote:

It was a much improved performance although was slightly disappointed at the way we didn't make use of what was a 'free' final 10 mins, would have liked to have seen us throw the ball around a bit and build a bit more confidence ready for oz. The back-row and the midfield combos are the selections Ashton needs to get right if we are to have a chance. No way barkley can be picked, mortlock/latham/tuqiri will steamroller him as they will defo target our 10/12 channel. Farrell must play. Dont think hipkiss has had enough gametime to be thrown in and so i'd stick with tait at OC. jason will come bk in for cueto hopefully aswell. Don't think a back row with both corry AND Easter will b competitive enough at the breakdown against oz, would bring rees back in for corry and switch moody to 6. One thing's for sure i'm really looking forward to Oz match and i hope we thrive on our underdog status. p.s Lay off Sackey, his first finish was fantastic and with four tries and an assist in 2 games he's turning out to be a predator.

  • 118.
  • At 12:58 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jack Cade wrote:

Ref. Tonga, population 190,000 and Peppykiwi: so what's the NZ excuse for looting their players? Are you proposing some kind of handicapping relative to size of population, or height or average weight?

  • 119.
  • At 01:00 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

England were quicker in thought and deed to today - exemplified by Wilkinson's quick thinking (interestingly Martin Johnson was not happy about him trying this), Gommersals much quicker (albeit slightly wayward) passing and excellent work by Moody and Easter.

They've now to getter even quicker. Smith is going dominate the breakdown and Farrel could get badly exposed by Mortlock and Gitteau (remember Jauzion's try in the warm-up matches).

England are still too slow and ponderous and although they have improved, will still not be good enough for Australia. I don't see England scoring any tries next week.

  • 120.
  • At 01:02 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • wrote:

Tait 7? Good god, if I am the only person that can see that this ragdoll is not an international centre then there's no hope. Useless.

Give it up for Moody though. he was excellent.

  • 121.
  • At 01:31 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • spooner wrote:

116 matthew.
Thanks for that in-depth analysis and remarkable insight into the game of rugby.
I'll get my 8-year old niece to respond in kind.
No, she's just refused to lower herself, 6-year old nephew it is then.
In the meantime, follow this link to have hours of debate on your own level:

  • 122.
  • At 01:40 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Bryn Palmer wrote:

David Cooper - good to hear from you!
And very astute comments, obviously!

I'd just like to say I don't have a personal grudge against Nick Easter.
I've already admitted he should probably have got a seven!

I spoke to him after the game and he's in good form, on and off the pitch. Here's what he had to say...

  • 123.
  • At 02:07 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Philip Gray wrote:

England turned in an impressive performance against Tonga and will gain from that experience. Moody deserves at least an 8 along with Easter, who had another good game and Wilkinson another 8 after controlling the game under pressure and securing a cracking kick in the corner to give England their opening try. Midfield still not 100% but I will take a win against a very good Tongan side.

  • 124.
  • At 02:28 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Manta337 wrote:

What have you got against Nick Easter? For me he has been England's best player so far this World Cup, and was in the mix for man of the match again last night. You gave him 6/10 against Samoa and 6/10 this time. For me, both were 8/10 performances. Solid as a rock, good in the loose, always there to mop up the restarts, a very good performance.

  • 125.
  • At 02:50 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Bob Smith wrote:


Obviously an Ozzy or another S.Hemisphere 'fan'. I love it when People start to hate England. Fear has that effect. England beat the team that was put in front of them last night and that's all they needed to do. Tonga only just lost to S.Africa the other week so their ability is hardly cannon fodder material. If Doug Howlet had scored Sackey's tries it would have been seen as 'genius' or ' perfectly positioned at the time' or 'reading the game so astutely' and a whole host of other platitudes. Dan Carter skips a few girl-guide tackles and he's the greatest runner of all time blah blah blah. I don't think England will win the WC but I think they'll beat Australia simply because they deserve it. Anyone remember the uncontested scrums back in Twickenham. I don't think anything has changed in that respect. Oh how I'll laugh if a Jonny drop goal dumps them out of the tournament....AGAIN!

  • 126.
  • At 03:18 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • andrew webber wrote:

I think its a quite clear consensus that the ratings for Wilko and Easter are too low.

Interesting comments on the line-up for Aus. About changes from the line up againstg Tonga: Still not certain on Farrell but he is probably a better option than Barkley. Could instead give Hipkiss a start but I'd go for sub. Question on whether to keep Cueto (I remember an excellent break he made in the Tongan game though). Is Tait going to get runover by Mortlock and co in the midfield? Perhaps Lewsey is needed in the midfield (that may be a bit negative though) with Robinson at full back. That would leave Cueto & Sackey as the wingers still. So my main contraversal point is Lewsey in the midfield to shore up the defense.

In the forwards, keep the same starting line-up. I would still give Moody a start (and probably keep Vickery on the bench still).

  • 127.
  • At 03:34 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Not really sure how someone can claim that the ref was biased in our favour last night? As with the Lima tackle on Wilkinson v Samoa, the hit on Moody was clearly dangerous and should have at least warranted a yellow card. In light of the Tongans ridiculous citing of Steyn after the South African match, i hope England bring the Latu hit to the attention of the citing officer.

It seems to me that a yellow card is more likely to be given for a persistent or tactical infringement than it is for dangerous play. I dont really see the point in having a yellow card when in such circumstances a penalty try is often a far more appropriate punishment.

I hate to say it, but i was impressed with Farrell's contribution when he came on and he seems to be obtaining some of the self-belief that made him a top League player.

The only reason I now think England have a chance against Aus is that the latter were so awful against Canada. There's still some nonsense spoken about Farrell, though, both by his detractors and his supporters. Two points: 1) Good player though he was at his peak, the top team in League has been Australia for a long time, and 'Great Britain' have not won a series against them with Farrell, Robinson or anyone else since 1971! 2)All the same, whatever you think of the rest of his game Farrell is the best defensive inside centre and surely should start against the Aussies?

  • 129.
  • At 03:51 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • tigers_andy wrote:

An average performance but not one to make the aussies fear us. The whole pack improved though apart from corry who had a very quiet game and needs to be replaced by either worsley or a switch around to bring rees in at 7 and moody to 6. If robinsons fit i would definitely like to see him at full back which is by far his best position. Bring in farrell or catt at 12 and hipkiss in for tait at 13 and this england team might stand a chance

  • 130.
  • At 05:54 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • fat face wrote:

mate u is being way too critical of wilko. ok maybs his kicking infront of goal wasnt great but he gave us great awareness in the backs to set up sakeys first.

  • 131.
  • At 06:01 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • William Varley wrote:

Fair ratings overall, though I think Wilko should be a seven purely on the pin-point kick he provided for Sackey. It was a great finish by the winger, but Wilkinson provided the accuracy in the first place.

  • 132.
  • At 06:10 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • ColPlugwellington wrote:

Spiffing show, chaps. True Dunkirk spirit. Nothing like sheer British pluck in the face of appalling odds. Time to steam up the fleet and find another South Sea island to invade.

  • 133.
  • At 10:13 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • chaderz wrote:

Paul Sackey is a class player. He needs to work up on his defence as he was cut open in Tonga's First Try. Also when will you start to put down other ratings not just the Home nations.

  • 134.
  • At 10:17 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Jim from Croydon wrote:

as before I am glad you weren't doing the Ireland ratings - I would have said England is coming together amazingly well now - most sections going well - centre unit still not perfect - tho Tait's try was a good one - but basically it will be how many problems the forwards can give the Australians and getting some of the strike attackers in there.

ps - so which half back unit in this competition is better than Gomersall/Wilkinson ?

  • 135.
  • At 11:04 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • James 1756 wrote:

My team to face Australia
8.Rees (if fit)/Easter

any comments?

  • 136.
  • At 11:44 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • Cider_drinker wrote:

I have read comments from blogs on this website for a while now. Freedom of speech is a good thing but I am sick and tired of reading some of the dross on here. It is a fact that England are not the force they were in 2002 and 2003 (when we were the best side in the world and won the world cup); our current world ranking is 7th. Earlier tonight Fiji (ranked 11th) knocked Wales (ranked 8th) out of the world cup. The Welsh team plays exciting, high risk rugby. However, they have not reached the knock out stages. Scotland has improved in recent years and their reward is a place in the last 8. England has manaaged to reach the quarter final stages - that is a fair reflection of their current standing. Next Saturday England plays Australia in a 1/4 final. On paper, Australia should beat us comfortably - 2nd against 7th in the world. However, on the day anything can happen. My mind says Australia to win, my heart says England. If England don't progress, I would like to see either France or Argentina (perhaps Fiji, as the south sea island nations have brought so much to world rugby at full international level as well as 7s) go on to win the competition. A new name on the cup would be a good thing. It's been a cracking weekend so far and I can't wait to see how Ireland fare tomorrow - ironically they could be out of the cup having been the form home nations team this year...

  • 137.
  • At 11:53 PM on 29 Sep 2007,
  • ozxile wrote:

I had no idea how much fun this blogging stuff could be until I stopped in here. You blokes are great. These posts mostly read like the text for a Monty Python skit rating performances in England's great war against the Falklands.

Its a pity that you won't have a chance to rate those poor bullied boys after they play Argentina in this WC. You will all be home pouting about the ref, the hot/cold/rainy/sunny weather, the price of beer, and of course those rotten, cheating Aussies!

Get a grip - you just barely beat a county with a couple thousand players and maybe two dozen rugby pitches. Realistically, how good can that be? Why not 9s and 10s all round? It makes as much sense as the rubbish discussion about being "to hard" on Wilko.

Apparently self delusion produces a great high - enjoy it while it lasts. It will be over soon.

  • 138.
  • At 12:15 AM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • JB wrote:

why isnt tom rees playing? he was our 'big thing' coming into this world cup and i can't understand how corry (an average flanker) and moody (on his wrong side) is better than Rees at 7 and Moody at 6 (his prefered position). Their pace can also make up for Easters lack of, and provide a formidable back row.
In the last 20 mins of the Tonga game, when England played exciting, expnasive rugby, tait showed what he is made of with a nicely taken try and some tricky runs. If given space, that is what Tait can do, but he does just lack the physical presence of Noon, but if England play quick hands in the backs, Tait can be deadly. With a kicking game, although solid enough in defence (better than barkley anyway) his best facets are lost. in order to get the best out of him, farrell/Hipkiss(prefered but perhaps too risky for first centre partnership against Australia) at 12 and play ball in hand rugby. Hipkiss looked good as a sub would like to see him play inside tait - exciting potential for the future

  • 139.
  • At 12:30 AM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • OneTrickPony wrote:

I think your scores are spot on.

A Tonga team playing well above their station pushed us all the way.

We can sugercoat this perfomance as much as we want. It's just going to make it all the more sweeter for the Aussies.

  • 140.
  • At 09:30 AM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • Duncan H wrote:

Please take the microphone away from Will Greenwood who seems to think he's God's gift to world rugby knowledge and game strategy!! Perhaps he's trying to mimic the opinionated (but balanced) Stuart Barnes, but just takes it too far beyond the commentator's remit.

  • 141.
  • At 10:01 AM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • buy862s wrote:

Sheridan, Easter and Moody were, for me, the standout forwards. Sheridans defence around the finges was awesome, Easter was rock solid, although may get found out with a lack of pace in an open game, and Moody gave enough energy for 3 forwards.

For the Aussie game then if Robinson is fit then he'll come in for Cueto but the big problem is still at centre. If it was me I'd still choose Farrell at inside and give Hipkiss a run outside. They are both unknown quantity's to the Aussies so may give them something extra to think about.

Rees should come in at open side with Moody to the blind and then it is a toss up between Easter and Corry, probably Easter. I know that Rees hasn't the experience and is up against George Smith but to compete we need to a true groundhog to win this battle (remember Neil Back in 2003) and Rees can give this.

Bring em on

  • 142.
  • At 11:56 AM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • bob smith wrote:

re: 137

On the subject of team 'delusion'...20/20 cricket anyone?

  • 143.
  • At 02:23 PM on 30 Sep 2007,
  • JD wrote:

We're through anyway. Ratings are about right, although agree Easter deserved more. Against the Oz it will be tough. Front 5 can do some damage against them, but back row will be tougher - has to be Moody, Rees and Easter (Corry 2nd row? or bring him on as 2nd half sub). Out wide we are likely to struggle against them. If Robinson's fit that will help, as Cueto doesn't look up to it, slicing through a gap and then falling over when he had 2 men outside...good break but you have to finish them off. Lewsey is solid but has no flair -he'll do though. Centres the big mismatch - Tait scored, but against Mortlock he's going to have to really step up and I'm not sure he can. Hipkiss would be better suited, but they will go with Tait. Barclay played like he wanted to be dropped, so he should be. Farrell will have to play, and will have to play well. When all's said and done a lot will depend how Wilkinson plays - his kicking and defence were well below his (very high) standards. If he can play as well as he ever has, and the others don't let him down, it might be a close one..drop goal anybody!

  • 144.
  • At 09:08 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Boris wrote:

It is obvious that the majority of people who post on this site have never played rugby before and really don't know what they are talking about. Gomersall had a big game despite some of the comments above and for sure Dallaglio adds to the squad, maybe he is not playing as well as Easter, but his presence on the bench strives england on. And another thing, if you lot actually new anything about rugby, you would realise (before posting your team) that Tom Rees is a flanker, he is not a Number 8, because you are a flanker does not mean you can play 8! And inside centre and outside centre are totally different positions, so the likes of Hipkiss/Noon/Tait and even somebody suggested Lewsey the other day - cannot play at 12!
My Team

1 Sheridan
2 Mears
3 Vickery
4 Corry
5 Kay
6 Moody
7 Rees
8 Easter
9 Gomersall
10 Wilkinson
11 Lewsey
12 Farrell
13 Tait
14 Sackey
15 Robinson

16 Chuter
17 Stevens
18 Shaw
19 Dallaglio
20 Perry
21 Barclay
22 Hipkiss

  • 145.
  • At 10:44 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • STB wrote:

Ok, here's the team and plan for the Aus game.

1. Sheridan
2. Chuter
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Corry
7. Moody
8. Easter
9. Gomersall
10. Wilkinson
11. Robinson
12. Farrell
13. Tait
14. Sackey
15. Lewsey

Bench: Mears, Vickery, Rees, Worsley, Richards, Barkley, Cueto

This I think provides enough power in the tight five to bully a majority of the possession, which we will definitely need. I also agree with an earlier poster that Rees and Worsley on the bench allows our back row to adapt for additional pace or physicality, as required. Corry covers lock.

Barkley hasn't played well as a starting 12 but covers 10 and 12 from the bench. Farrell looked useful against Tonga but gets his starting spot mainly for defensive purposes. Tait and Farrell swap positions in defence so Farrell marks Mortlock and Tait marks Giteau.

The back three starts to look dangerous and if our midfield can continue running from depth and giving sharp passes, as they finally managed to do against Tonga, who knows what could happen....

  • 146.
  • At 11:20 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

We need to get the ball wide more often. Sackey is a good finisher but not great in the tackle. Put Cueto at 14, hes proven there at internatioonal level and is one of the best finishers in the England setup. He has had a nightmare year with injury and then playing in a position that he's unfamiliar with (full back). give the lad at chance at where he's best.

  • 147.
  • At 11:27 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Oz the England Fan wrote:

Poor Wales and Ireland... poor performances, poor coaching and poor long suffering fans - I feel for the fans: you have been badly let down, again.

EOS must surely go now? At least the Welsh RFU had the guts to act immediately. Time for a total overhaul of your team, coaches and development system. Fire the poor performers - now. Tell the older so-called starts that they have exceeded their time limit and start to build for 2011.

It would be nice to think that Scotland and England could restore home nation pride by getting to the semis, but that's really not going to happen. Four Southern hemisphere teams will be in the semis and the Northern game will lie in tatters.

At least one Northern hemisphere team has actually won "Bill" - but where are the rest of you? Still playing the 1980's game. Move on!

  • 148.
  • At 11:54 AM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

I think it was a much better performance from England but we still won't beat the Aussies - I hope we give them a good game though. My main problem with England is why do they insist on playing Tait? Dan Hipkiss is by far the better player so it's about time he got a start. Lewis Moody should start as well - he puts his body on the line every time. Gommersall has been just what we needed at scrum half - far better than the vastly overrated Perry.

If England can't, I would love to see Argentina lift the cup as they have played some of the best rugby so far. They fully deserved their exciting win against a poorly performing Ireland.

  • 149.
  • At 12:06 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • tony D wrote:

Enggland must pick a back row of Easter, Worsley, Moody - One big dog and two running tackling machines to pressurise the Aussises.

Keep Lewsey, Cueto and Sackey (Robinson cant run the length of the pitch any more - and what a finish by Sackey!)Gomersalll, Wilkinson, Farrel, Hipkiss, Stevens, Chuter, Sheriden Shaw and Kay, leave Richards, Barkly, Tait, Rees, Vickery and Corry on the bench.

Should be a cracking game and, given the last few years for us long suffering World Champions (still!!!), any kind of a result from here on in would be massive.

PS. Stuart Barnes IS welsh.

  • 150.
  • At 01:06 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Kaylie Havard wrote:

omg what game were u watching!

i was there live and it was an amazing match!

the best england have played probably throughtout this whole tournament?

big them up

  • 151.
  • At 02:25 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Richard W wrote:

You really wonder what the pre-match dressing room speech with be before the Aussie game.

Frankly the Tongans always looked liked they could have taken the game. Our front five were pretty good, back row were still too slow and backs found space through good fortune rather than judgement.

For England to win, the Aussies need to implode and let's face it they don't to that. The fly half Barnes is young but quality and the rest are all decent players who play with structure and speed (except Dunning who at least looks more like a sportman).

Leave Farrell on the bench and bring in Hipkiss. We know Farrell cannot unlock good defences and Hipkiss deserves a chance. Let's hope billy whizz can make it fit and play 15 (cos Lewsey just cannot kick) and put him and Sackey on the wings.

Hopefully the ref and big man in the sky will be the other key players in white.

  • 152.
  • At 02:56 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Roger Bacon wrote:

Very pleased to see the players smiling while they played eventually, particularly Tait. Hopefully this will build confidence against the Aussies. I also thought they showed glimpses of the dynamic forwards play that Ashton inspired under Woodward.

Dallaglio, however, slowed everything down, blocked the channels from the breakdown and took the ball standing still; his presence alone stifled the most adventurous performance from the forwards in years. Drop him from the 22.

Shame about Barclay at 12, had hoped he'd be more effective. Shame Farrell was effective, really, as I doubt he can repeat it.

  • 153.
  • At 03:03 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Very pleased to see the players smiling while they played eventually, particularly Tait. Hopefully this will build confidence against the Aussies. I also thought they showed glimpses of the dynamic forwards play that Ashton inspired under Woodward.

Dallaglio, however, slowed everything down, blocked the channels from the breakdown and took the ball standing still; his presence alone stifled the most adventurous performance from the forwards in years. Drop him from the 22.

Shame about Barclay at 12, had hoped he'd be more effective. Shame Farrell was effective, really, as I doubt he can repeat it.

  • 154.
  • At 04:05 PM on 01 Oct 2007,
  • christof wrote:

Was at the game and pretty amazed by some of these comments- England did ok against some pretty tough opponents and, thank God, have some momentum at last.

Probably won't beat the Aussies, but will be competitive. Would just do a couple of things:
- bring Robinson in for Cueto, who is hesitant and unconvincing
- never thought I'd say it but Farrell was more convincing and more solid in defence than Barkley - we'll need that v Mortlock
- move Moody to 6 and bring in Rees to combat George Smith
- leave the rest alone

Possibly won't be enough, but signs of decent progress after the SA horror show.

What on earth is all the anti Sackey comment about - four tries and one large 'assist' in two games is fine by me

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