September 20, 2019, 17:21

Wales 13-6 England player ratings: Dan Biggar shines as Joe Cokanasiga fails to make impact

Wales 13-6 England player ratings: Dan Biggar shines as Joe Cokanasiga fails to make impact

Wales went top of rugby union’s world rankings for the first time after beating England 13-6 in Cardiff, but which players on show caught the eye?

In front of 73,931 spectators, Warren Gatland’s side made it 11 straight home wins – their best winning streak since 1912 – to inflict revenge on their old rivals, after the 33-19 loss at Twickenham last Sunday.

Ultimately, England were beaten at the kicking game with Dan Biggar underlining his importance in the absence of Gareth Anscombe.

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  • Wales beat England to top world rankings
  • How Wales avenged Twickenham loss

Wales produced a fine defensive display to negate their opponent’s strengths as Eddie Jones’ men were unable to reproduced the same free-flowing rugby that saw them win six days ago.

Biggar was named the official man of the match – and we run the rule over the performers in the second international in a week between the two nations, with the Rugby World Cup now less than five weeks away.

3:44 Watch highlights of Wales' 13-6 victory over England at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.


15 Leigh Halfpenny 7/10 – Called in after Liam Williams felt hamstring tightness during the warm-up, Halfpenny completely missed an early high ball from Willi Heinz, but it didn’t prove costly on a first Test start since November.

Great take under pressure from Jonathan Joseph on one occasion in a 50-50 box kick from Ford. Lost possession in the tackle after another lively dart but found his composure to kick the decisive final three points.

14 George North 7/10 – Impeccable when called upon to score his 38th international try. Was held up by Billy Vunipola to earn England a penalty shortly after Ford’s first kick to continue England’s recovery. He is now just two behind Gareth Thomas – and was a threat throughout. Indispensable.

13 Jonathan Davies 6/10 – Showed good jackalling to win the penalty against Maro Itoje and was more effective during the first 40 minutes before England saw more of the ball in the second period. Performed strongly in Wales’ midfield, including making a number of impressive tackles.

12 Hadleigh Parkes 6/10 – There were concerted attempts to play with men on shoulders from the off with Wales playing with intent. Frequently showed his technical ability over the ball at the breakdown.

Rob Edwards will have been delighted with how the side started defensively and Parkes was involved in the turnover after tackling Piers Francis. Responsible for conceding the penalty that allowed Ford the chance to first chance to reduce the deficit.

11 Josh Adams 7/10 – Would have been slightly worried when Joe Cokanasiga was breathing down his neck from an unorthodox Heinz kick but dealt with it well.

He was found brilliantly by Biggar in the build up to North’s opening try in a combination that worked before against the Red Rose.

10 Dan Biggar 8/10 – A brilliant chaser as well as a kicker, Biggar opted to twice turn down kicking positions in the opening 23 minutes. But he was switched on to re-start the game after Anthony Watson’s sin-bin, and it was his eventual kick that found North all alone to score. His conversion kick wasn’t bad either.

The fly-half controlled things in the first 40 minutes and was deserving on the man-of-the-match accolade, but why wasn’t he taken off sooner after being treated in the second half?

9 Gareth Davies 6/10 – Was left isolated before losing possession in the tackle after Wales opted to go for the try-line over kicking for the posts in the early exchanges. Felt a twinge from a kick after 37 minutes that had echoes of Anscombe.

Should he have walked straight down the tunnel? Played on during a vulnerable period to help secure a morale-boosting win for his country and was replaced on 61 minutes.

1 Nicky Smith – 6/10 – Forced a penalty in the third scrum to allow Biggar the field position which would eventually lead to the first points of the game. The workrate of Smith at the breakdown in turning over the ball against a sluggish England gave Wales the platform.

2 Ken Owens – 8/10 – Showed his power with a good carry and roll in the tackle to take Wales to within 10 metres of the England try-line at a key moment deep in the second half.

Solid line-out and alongside Biggar, Aaron Wainwright and Alun Wyn Jones, the four standout performers in red. Try telling Owens that friendlies don’t matter, just watch his reaction to North’s try!

3 Tomas Francis – 6/10 – After the problems at Twickenham, an early collapse in the scrum led to an England penalty, and a talking to from referee Pascal Gauzere.

But England were unable to enjoy the same success at the scrum as they did six days ago, and Francis more than played his part. Relished the physical battle and rolled up his sleeves at the coal-face. Replaced after 47 minutes.

4 Jake Ball – 7/10 – Went off near the end, but not before he had worked tirelessly to help keep Wales on the front foot.

Another big shift from Ball before he was replaced on 65 minutes by Elliot Dee. An engine that began to limp towards the end, Wales will wrap him in cotton wool even now with a week off.

5 Alun Wyn Jones (c) – 8/10 – What is there left to say about the Wales captain? Mr Consistency produced another imperious display, highlighted by one moment when he led a five-man hold up on Vunipola moments into the second half.

6 Aaron Wainwright 8/10 – Showed great hands in the collision. Won the line-out in front of Itoje to continue his solid opening. Showed constant support for Alun Wyn Jones on his right shoulder. Kept England guessing with his carrying. Replaced by Aaron Shingler at the break.

7 James Davies 5/10 – Making a first Wales appearance for 14 months, Davies went off after 24 minutes after it appeared that England lock Itoje’s knee accidentally caught him on the head, with Josh Navidi replacing him. A real shame.

8 Ross Moriarty 7/10 – At the heart of Wales’ efforts in close-quarter combat, and he enjoyed every minute.

This was a back row that excited many Welsh supporters, and Moriarty didn’t disappoint. Wales were willing to throw the ball around in the first five minutes, and the Dragons star was in the thick of the action throughout.

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Aled Davies, Jarrod Evans, 23 Owen Watkin.


15 Elliot Daly 6/10 – Targeted by Wales under the high ball but coped well for the most part. Showed off his counter-attacking running too but struggled to get his hands on the ball. Retains Eddie Jones’ faith at full-back, and this was a solid performance.

14 Anthony Watson 5/10 – Sin-binned for an intentional knock on in first half which proved costly as it paved the way for Wales’ first try. Saw very little of the ball thereafter aside from one break up the right in the second half. One of the many who will seek an improvement next week.

13 Jonathan Joseph 5/10 – Absolutely anonymous, struggled to get his hands on the ball. Passive passing as England struggled to generate momentum. Worked hard in heavy traffic, but his dancing feet lacked their usual magic.

12 Piers Francis 6/10 – Ran hard and made some promising gains from midfield but had a quiet display overall before being subbed on 52 minutes. Injected pace into England’s meandering back-line to finish in credit.

11 Joe Cokanasiga 4/10 – Saw almost no ball through the whole Test, anonymous as England struggled to get their backs involved. Turned over at a breakdown as a promising attack developed and made little impact.

10 George Ford (c) 6/10 – Showed nice footwork but kicking from hand was often rushed and too long. Notched six points off the tee before leaving on the hour mark. Ford did not want to read too much into the result with the World Cup just around the corner, but he was not afforded any time nor space on the ball.

9 Willi Heinz 5/10 – Went off injured in the first half for a HIA. Returned but was well off his standards of last week. Passed an HIA to rejoin the fray, and his second cap was forgettable.

1 Ellis Genge 6/10 – Gave away a needless intentional knock-on penalty in the first half and was penalised at the scrum for an incorrect bind. Offloaded nicely at times and was strong in the tackle before going off on 45 minutes. Two early carries caught the eye, and his appetite for work was commendable.

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie 5/10 – Lost his first lineout and was pretty uninvolved thereafter before being subbed after 45 minutes. Not as conspicuous as at Twickenham six days ago in the face of Welsh dominance.

3 Dan Cole 7/10 – Scrummaged really strongly as England earned the edge in that particular facet before exiting on the hour mark. Gave Wales a torrid afternoon at the scrum to continue the resurgence of his Test career.

4 Joe Launchbury 6/10 – Defended at the lineout well forcing one maul turnover, before exiting on 55 minutes. Back-to-back starts for the big Wasps lock who is sure to play a back-up role in Japan.

5 Maro Itoje 7/10 – Brought a physical edge all afternoon, did not shirk defensive responsibilities and give away any penalties. First outing of the warm-up schedule enabled him to blow off the cobwebs.

6 Courtney Lawes 5/10 – Caught offside in defence allowing Wales to go 3-0 ahead and was not the force he so often is. Made a nuisance of himself and proved once more he is a genuine option at blindside.

7 Lewis Ludlam 7/10 – Earned one superb turnover in midfield at the breakdown and forced another near his own tryline. Impressed again. Continues to look comfortable at this level, but his second cap was harder than his first.

8 Billy Vunipola 7/10 – Got held up and conceded a turnover – an extremely rare occurrence for the Saracens man. Won a breakdown penalty in the second half for England to get back to 10-3, before forcing another turnover by holding North up and creating a maul. Showed a neat side-step, but it was his shift in defence that stood out.


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