1. James Maloney (LW: 3)
The BBQ will step into the five-eighth role for NSW following a return to form against the Storm – a poor kicking game in conjunction with his halfback notwithstanding.
He set up the final try of the match to bring the game within eight and kicked it from the sideline, and his defence – just one miss – was fantastic including holding up rookie Jordan Mclean under the posts.
In all he made 20 tackles and kicked it 10 times for 296 metres. It wasn’t his best game but he offered more in the way of attack and defence than we’ve seen in a number of games.
Yet both he and MP7 stuck stubbornly to the game plan of hoisting bombs even though the main target, Mahe Fonua, was dropped just prior to the match.
2. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 1)
Mitch took a slight step back in this one. His directing the team around the field was again very good, but the kicking game was poor as mentioned in the BBQ session above.
He still made 297 metres off nine kicks, but the majority were bombs and the rest went down Billy Slater’s throat. We can’t hold the latter against him as Slater is simply the best in the league at getting into position as well as kicking guys in the neck, but the former is one major criticism of Mitch: a seeming inability to take what a defence gives him, and an apparent inability to adapt to survive.
Don’t get it twisted: Mitchell has had a fantastic season, and the above criticism is more the perception than the reality. He’s equal fourth in the NRL with 10 try assists this season and his kicks have generally found space all year.
3. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 2)
This was perhaps Sonny Bill’s worst game of the year: three errors (two drops and a forward pass), 10 runs for just 73 metres and just one offload. However, he made 34 tackles without a miss and still managed to do stuff despite having a target on his back all match as the obvious focus of the defence.
Some morons in the media have suggested SBW is worth just $350K-$400K per year, clearly as one bad game is enough to demand a severe pay cut. Seriously, how is he still in the squad?
26 Rounds put this to a vote: 58 per cent of respondents said he was worth between $750K-$1mil, 33 per cent said he was worth more than a million. But what would we know, right?
Well, here’s some more evidence: eight line break assists, five try assists, 25 offloads, 27 tackle busts, 295 tackles, five tries, five line breaks and 1035 metres gained in 11 matches.
4. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: 5)
The Sheck’s shtock continues to rise and his involvement is at an all-time high. He is becoming a threat to break the line with every touch and he proved himself under the high ball against the Storm.
He ran it 17 times for 102 metres, often taking the hitup for tired forwards, and can either stay out on the wing and run onto a cut-out as a good winger should or come in and break the line through the middle.
He has 10 line breaks this year with five tries, 40 tackle busts – not a misprint – and averages over 100 metres run per game.
He still needs work on defence, with two more tries scored down that side – although that can’t all be put on him as both tries were from miscommunication from the players inside him.
5. Boyd Cordner (LW: 4)
His leadership in the second half in particular stood out for this writer. He put a big hit on a storm player and immediately tried to fire up his charges, yelling at them to get among the action. Minutes later he dropped that ball and smacked his hand in disgust at himself on the ground.
That passion is what we should all want from the future captain of the Roosters.
He made 30 tackles without a miss and ran it 12 times for 98 metres. His form has been so good recently that it was a genuine shock he didn’t get one of the spots on the bench for the Blues – but it’s only a matter of time before he gets the call up.
6. Mitchell Aubusson (LW: 7)
Aubo’s defence in recent weeks should be videotaped and taught to kids across the country: get low, chase, and tackle around the ankles — because they can’t run without legs.
He’s fully justified the contract extension he signed earlier this season, and recently has resembled a broke man’s Ron Coote in cover – although its much harder to get a rhyming slang for sex from Mitch Aubusson.
He made 37 tackles without a miss but didn’t get much opportunity in attack and failed to make a dent when he did, although he wasn’t alone in that regard.
7. Michael Jennings (LW: 6)
He’s been slowly descending down the ranks every week after topping the charts in the first two rankings, and his game against the Storm was by far his worst of the year. He dropped a sitter of a chip kick in-goal which Cam Smith pounced on just prior to halftime, while Will Chambers fended him off like he was closing a door with a left-hand fend for the Storm’s final try which effectively sealed the match.
Having said all that, the missed tackle was just his fifth of the year and he still ran it 10 times for 84 metres with two tackle busts and an offload, and scored a try off a Storm fumble in the first half.
Not a bad “bad” performance.
8. Luke O’Donnell (LW: 10)
“Thank God for Luke O’Donnell”: a phrase this writer never thought he would have muttered at the start of the season. This writer heavily criticised the signing at the start of the year, but its hard to imagine where we’d be in the past two weeks without LO’D.
His performance against the Storm was his best of the year (12 runs, 119 metres, 20 tackles and no misses) and he’s been their best forward in the past two rounds in the absence of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves. He scored a try and his aggression is the best impression of JWH we could hope for.
9. Jake Friend (LW: 8)
Friend’s running game has tailed off the past two matches without the offloads coming from JWH, but he’s still been solid across the park. He threw the final ball for LO’D’s try under the posts and again topped the tackle count with 44. But he made just 10 metres from three runs and the Roosters need a more dynamic running game from their hooker.
10. Anthony Minichiello (LW: 9)
Mini played as well as could be expected for the Roosters, and was again safe under the high ball while returning kicks at speed for a change. He ran it 11 times for 96 metres but did drop two balls – although he was not the only player to do so.