Updated: Nov 19, 2020
It was far from a vintage day at the office for England as they completed a dominant victory over an enthusiastic, record breaking Georgian side. The terrible weather and wet conditions dictated a largely sodden affair preventing fluid Rugby from ever taking place. Nevertheless, there was a lot to analyse throughout the match so let's dive into it!
Shocker at 10 & 12
England largely out-muscled, out-ran and out-matched Georgia in every area of the pitch leading to a fairly comfortable win. However, there were two notably poor performances put in by England that certainly did them no favours. Farrell looked slightly unfit, unfocused and disinterested throughout the 80 minutes. He made countless handling errors, which wasn't helped by the conditions, got bumped off of three/four tackles, organised a very clunky attacking line and looked like he didn't want to be there. This was only further compounded by an uncharacteristically poor game by Slade who looked completely unsure in his 12 jersey. His positioning was awful, his handling even worse and he seemed to take unusual options when England looked to pull the trigger in the backs. I think the experiment with Slade at inside centre should probably end after this first outing...
England Attack Rating: 5/10
Georgia Attack Rating: 1/10
Jamie George is quickly becoming the most overlooked talent in the English dressing room by the media and pundits alike. Each week we hear calls for Luke Cowan Dickie, Tom Dunn and others to start, but each week George puts in a stellar performance and reminds up why the British and Irish Lion is here to stay. The first time an English hooker has scored an international hat trick in history, George bossed the lineout and driving maul expertly. We often forget how critical his lineout throwing is to this outfit when we remember back to the Tom Youngs' days and the calamities we used to witness from the touchline each week. George is a real stalwart in that front row and puts a shift in every single match. A great tackler, effective ball carrier, and now a mauling general, George had an all-star game against the large Georgian pack.
England Breakdown Rating: 8/10
Georgia Breakdown Rating: 3/10
There was an understandable amount of anticipation heading into this game, as it was the first time in a long time that Eddie had picked some newbies to start in a competitive fixture. The pressure put on Willis' shoulders heading into this match was palpable from the first whistle, but boy did he entertain! We predicted it going into this match that the Georgian outfit would underestimate his carrying ability, a disallowed try and debut try later, they certainly weren't going to keep doing that. Willis was a force at the breakdown as usual, winning a turnover in his first half cameo and although he was taken off early in the match, perhaps it was with fitness and avoiding injury in mind. Ollie Lawrence looked sharp and focused throughout his time on the pitch too, chasing every kick well and putting in some brave carries in the midfield. He was largely let down by the poor performances of his inside-backs, but he gave us a glimpse of what he's capable of! Although it wasn't his debut, Robson came on for just his fourth appearance for England (travesty by the way) and scored immediately from a sniping fringe play. The pace he provided from the bench did remind you of how slow Youngs really is from the base of the ruck; not that it will change any time soon. Stuart also looked good in the scrum, matching the intensity from the Georgian pack and winning a few penalties in return for his good will. His carrying was a little hit and miss but all-in-all, a very sound performance from the 24 year old.
The Back-Three Conundrum
You know what? I'm still a bit unsure on our back three... I don't think I'm alone in saying it because the majority of the English fan-base echo the sentiment each week. Joseph shut down the doubters in prolific fashion by being the most threatening option in that English backline. Is he a winger though? We know his defence is very good, we know he's got gas to burn and dazzling footwork, but positionally and aerially is he a winger? I don't know yet... When you talk all-time best England wingers, I believe Jonny May has joined that discussion. His try-scoring ability cannot be questioned and the stats don't lie! However, it was a peculiar performance that he put in at the weekend, being very safe in the air but a little indecisive with ball in hand. There are two criticisms that are always levelled at May, those being that he can't kick and his footwork in small spaces is very poor. He does need a lot of room and does need a back-line that's on the front foot. He didn't have a bad game by any stretch, it's just the back-three looked imbalanced skillset-wise this weekend. I also thought that Daly put in an unusual performance on the day, looking motivated and intense on his return from injury, but again is he a full back? His aerial performance was pretty hit or miss, he entered the line well on some occasions and on others he over ran in the 13 channel, and his tactical kicking lacked strategy. He scored a great try yes and certainly looked more assured than Furbank, but compared to Anthony Bouthier, Stuart Hogg and Matteo Minozzi, I'd say he's in the lower half of quality full-backs from the northern hemisphere. Is he the best man for the job? The jury's out...
The Georgian Bounce-Back
Let's not kid ourselves, we expected slightly more from Georgia. The conditions suited them well, but they didn't even look like scoring a single, solitary point all game. They were out-muscled, out-gunned and didn't have a single performer on the pitch who looked at this level. After shipping 88 points in two games and scoring just 7, the calls for them to be introduced into the Six Nations have to be squashed. If that's going to happen, you have to reformat the competition to include the full 7 nations. They will get better the more Rugby they play and the more consultants they bring on board, but this team needs more time playing against top competition regularly. They will play against the worst Welsh team we've seen in ten years and if they still lose by 40 - 50 point margin, then World Rugby has to take a look at how they improve tier 2 nations capabilities and progression moving forward.
Jack Willis: Menace on the deck, most effective person in the back row with ball in hand, calm and collected on his debut.
Ellis Genge: An absolute monster in the scrum, effective with ball in hand, energised the team around him.
Joe Launchbury: Proper work-horse around the fringes, solid in the lineout, dragged Willis over the line to score.
Jonathan Joseph: Threatening with ball in hand, popped up regularly in the midfield to slice through the defence, good positional awareness.
Owen Farrell: Kicked well but too often, weak in the collision, lacked focus and made too many unforced errors, couldn't organise the backline throughout.
Henry Slade: Way too many handling errors, played too much to the script and not what was in front of him, poor positional play.
The Entire Georgian Team: It's very harsh, but it's impossible to pick out one performer who played any better or any worse than the rest of them.