1. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 3)
Seriously, would it have been anyone else after the performance he just put in against the Parramatta Eels?
The fact that he only ran for a total of 47 metres makes his standout performance even more amazing. His breakout game coincided with his return to the right side, where Trent Robinson admitted he’d been told SBW feels more comfortable.
The most impressive part of this game was not just the sick cutout he threw for one of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s three tries, nor was it the two line break assists or the four offloads. Heck, it wasn’t even the 19 tackles he made without a miss for the fourth straight game.
REPEAT: NOT A MISS IN FOUR GAMES.
No, the impressive part is that he set up a line break for Shaun Kenny Dowall in one play on the right; placed pressure on Vai Toutai off a Mitchell Pearce bomb on the right wing which led the the first try; before again following MP7 and capitalising on a tap-back from the halfback to touch down on the left wing.
That sequence of events showed how omnipotent SBW actually was. He was ubiquitous. Pervasive. Like an obnoxious weed, but in a really awesome way.
And there is nothing better in this game than a perfect cutout to an unmarked winger. When it comes from a second-rower? As our friends on Twitter so eloquently put it:
If he has truly been given free reign out there, then we’ll have to come up with a new position for him. A half-rower (combo of a half and second rower)? A roving full (back) forward? An unlocked lock?
2. Michael Jennings (Last week: 1)
MJ was quiet by his standards in the first half but still got involved heavily, providing a rest for his forwards with some timely runs.
But the last 20 minutes of the match belonged to him and his new partner in crime, Daniel Tupou.
He brushed away some hapless defence from Ken Sio with a get-off-me swipe before powering his way over for his first try as a Rooster. And he didn’t stop there.
He repeatedly found space down the left edge for Tupou with some perfect passes which led to the youngster having his most dominant performance in the NRL and – if it wasn’t for some desperate scrambling defence from the Eels who pulled down Tupou at least three times with the line begging – Jennings would have finished with four try assists.
As it stands, he’ll have to settle for a performance which included one try, 19 runs for 153 metres, six tackle breaks, one line break, three line break assists, one try assist, and 12 tackles with no misses.
Other than that he was shithouse.
3. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (LW: 4)
JWH is the form prop in the competition. There, I said it.
He was on another level against the Eels, dominating a forward pack that simply didn’t have an answer for his aggression, go-forward and defensive intensity.
He scored the first try of the match when he barged over through three defenders under the post, and offloaded three times with one leading to a try to Daniel Mortimer under the black dot.
He played the most minutes he’s played all season (52) but his aggression didn’t wane. Once.
Sonny Bill is the star of the forward pack but JWH is the unquestioned leader out front. In all he ran for 107 metres off 13 hitups with 22 tackles, all of which were bruising.
4. James Maloney (LW: 2)
He didn’t break the line against the Eels but he was damn close on a number of occasions, and his long kicking game was top-shelf, kicking for 352 metres. His short kicking game near the line adds a dimension to the Roosters attack that the man below him hasn’t been able to replicate yet, and led to MP7’s bat back to SBW for the Roosters’ second try.
He had a beautiful chip-and-chase that nearly came off, and kicked seven from nine conversions, his two hitting the post from the exact same spot.
Both he and Pearce are developing a fantastic combination with both knowing their roles perfectly. Neither overplays their hand. The BBQ remains slightly ahead due to his standout performances so far this season, but MP7 is not that far behind.
5. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 5)
The 23-year-old halfback has one of the most devastating bombs in the game, and continually tested Vai Toutai to great effect. But more than that, he is placing the bombs to perfection: just short of the line to keep them pegged down that end, and not to deep so that the opposition gets a quick run out to the 20.
His bat-back to Sonny Bill led to the team’s second try, and his perfectly placed kick over the head of Toutai helped RTS get on the board for the first time in his career.
All up he was credited with three try assists, four runs (24m), 20 tackles and nine kicks for 273 metres.
But more importantly, he’s just tough and never gives up on the play, as evidenced by his bat-back.
6. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: 10)
When it rains it pours, and The Sheck not only broke his duck but scored a hatrick with three superb winger’s tries when he stayed deep and timed his runs to perfection: whether it was timing a jump, running on to a cutout or anticipating a rare Shaun Kenny-Dowall pass, RTS found a way to capitalise each time.
But more than that he was a constant threat returning the ball and on dummy-half runs, and amassed an incredible eight tackle busts – much to the delight of his Supercoach and Dream Team owners.
He ran for 116 metres against the Eels, and one gets the feeling this is the start of many more tries with SBW now playing down that edge.
7. Daniel Tupou (LW: NR)
He broke the line three times and has learned in the space of a week how best to combine with the superstar on his inside, scoring his first try of the season and running for a spectacular 191 metres which included five tackle busts.
8. Anthony Minichiello (LW: 6)
Mini defused three bombs in spectacular fashion in the first 10 minutes, effectively taking that weapon out of Sandow’s game and forcing the halfback to find another way through. He never found it.
If this is Mini’s swan song, then — save for a few stumbles in round 2 against the warriors –he’s making it a final season to remember.
He ran it for 104 metres off 13 runs and even threw in four tackle busts in an homage to Minichiello circa 2005.
9. Boyd Cordner (LW: 9)
Cordner struggled with his handling a touch, dropping two, but scored the final try of the match with a swivelling run.
His running game is coming along to match his near faultless reading of the opposition attack which led to 35 tackles.
He played the full game, taking that 80 minute role from SBW, and ran it strong throughout despite the two errors.
10. Jake Friend (LW: NR)
Jakey has returned to form, displaying some decent running out of dummy half and good recognition of what the defence is offering. His awareness following the Toutai spill led to the movement that resulted in the first try to JWH, and he put in a trademark tackling effort with 34 tackles and one miss in just 55 minutes of work. He also made 50 metres off five dummy-half spurts. Welcome back Jake.
Marty Kennedy, who provided that go forward we all know he’s capable of with 125 metres off 12 runs in 46 minutes of work; Sam Moa, who did nothing wrong to drop out of the top ten, but was surpassed by some superb winger play; and SKD, who kinda bombed a try but was dangerous throughout the game.