England vs Japan player ratings: Ben Earl dominant as returning Billy Vunipola delivers smart cameo

Man of the match: Ben Earl delivered a brilliant display from England’s back row against Japan  (Getty Images)
Man of the match: Ben Earl delivered a brilliant display from England’s back row against Japan (Getty Images)

England made it two wins from two at the Rugby World Cup by seeing off Japan on Sunday evening.

It was far from a vintage performance from Steve Borthwick’s side, who were gifted the first of four tries in Nice to Lewis Ludlam.

However, they did not lose heart and Courtney Lawes showed good presence of mind to tap down uncontested when everyone had expected a knock-on to be signalled.

Freddie Steward finished nicely in the corner after a cross-field kick from George Ford, while Joe Marchant went over with a last-gasp score for the bonus point as England remained in firm control of Pool D and en route to the quarter-finals.

Standard Sport’s rugby correspondent Nick Purewal was at the Stade de Nice to rate the England players.


Freddie Steward – 6

Took his try well but could not connect with the rest of the backline enough in attack.

Jonny May – 6

Conceded a totally needless penalty but atoned with several smart second-half breaks.

Joe Marchant – 6

Nice finish for the bonus-point score but still searching to bind that centre pairing with Tuilagi.

Manu Tuilagi – 7

Another physical, direct showing to give England fans glimpses of his best.


Elliot Daly – 6

Did his absolute best to add the ball-playing layer in midfield coming off his wing only to fall short at times.

George Ford – 7

Another near-peerless display with the boot, but off-kilter several times with ball in hand.

Alex Mitchell – 6

Slipped from his lofty standards of last week but did not let anybody down.


Joe Marler – 6

Put himself about well and his unwitting assist set England en route to victory.

Jamie George – 7

Very solid in the scrum and lineout but not at his barnstorming best on the ball.

Kyle Sinckler – 6

Still feeling his way back into things after a chest injury but offered several deft link touches in midfield.

Maro Itoje – 7

Muscular showing but lost rhythm at points.

Ollie Chessum – 6

Bound a lot of what England were doing in the tight together.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Courtney Lawes – 7

Threw himself into everything all night and led from the front again

Ben Earl – 8

England’s clear man of the match, this was just the latest furious, frenzied but controlled display of physical dominance.

Lewis Ludlam – 7

Took his try well and vindicated his selection in fine style.


Ellis Genge (for Marler, 58) – 7

Added impetus and incision as England took Japan to task at the death.

Will Stuart (for Sinckler, 51) – 7

Shored up the scrum and kept it tidy elsewhere.

George Martin (for Lawes, 63) – 6

Put in a busy shift as England sealed the bonus-point win in the closing stages.

Billy Vunipola (for Ludlam, 51) – 7

Added bite and tenacity to England’s carrying game in a smart cameo.


Ben Youngs (for Mitchell, 58) – 7

Pushed the tempo as the game broke up and England took full reward.

Marcus Smith (for Steward, 68) – 6

As sharp as ever on the ball without quite breaking free.

Ollie Lawrence (for Tuilagi, 68) – 6

Offered the straight-running to keep England’s increasingly wide game honest.