1. James Maloney (LW: 1)
The BBQ was hot in attack on Friday but cold in attack — and all of it was enough to maintain the top spot, especially when you factor in it was his second game in 72 hours.
In attack he was superb in servicing his outside men, setting up two tries and creating the space for a third for Michael Jennings.He had six kicks for 134 metres, one try assist, and he ran it four times for 27 metres with two tackle busts.
Defensively he missed six tackles, a season high — which was to be expected following a starring role against Queensland just two nights earlier. So battered was he that he posted the image to the left on Twitter.
That’s a shit-ton of Pain Away.
2. Mitchell Pearce (LW: 2)
MP7 did nothing worthy of falling down the rankings — even getting bumped off three times in a row by a guy named Peni Terepo isn’t enough to warrant a drop.
His kicking game was still solid and he at least tried to get SBW fired up through holes, but he did miss five tackles.
Even then, he’s becoming a prototypical halfback and leading his team around the field with aplomb. He kicked it seven times for 249 metres and almost created a break in the first half, only to see the ball go to ground from Luke O’Donnell.
In all, a solid outing following his best game in the Origin arena.
3. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (LW: 4)
The Sheck continues to channel his inner Perrett by getting involved at every occasion, and again made more runs than his second-rowers against the Eels: 13 for 146 metres with a line break, a try and six tackle busts.
But what is deceptively impressive about the slightly-built Sheck is his upper body strength.
He had no right scoring against the Eels after the defence recovered well enough to get to him following a BBQ cutout, but through sheer strength he spun out of the tackle to put it down.
When this kid moves to fullback, it’s game over for the opposition.
4. Michael Jennings (LW: 7)
Jenko bounced back superbly from a shocker against the Storm to star for the Blues, score one of the great Origin tries in the process and play two nights later and star again in one of the best “backing up” performances in recent memory — a performance which catapults him up the rankings once more.
He ran it 16 times for 159 metres, drew his man perfectly to set up the try for Daniel Tupou in the first half and made nine tackles without a miss.
The dude is unbelievable, and his performances this year must make the Panthers regret letting him go — especially since they used his money to sign the Illawarra Cutters’ Jamie Soward.
5. Sonny Bill Williams (LW: 3)
SBW has had two quiet performances in a row: the first one against Melbourne was understandable, but against the Eels, with three of his colleagues backing up from Origin, he needed to step up.
He again failed to crack the 100 metre mark from 12 runs, and had two offloads, one tackle bust, 31 tackles, three misses and two penalties conceded.
These are OK stats, but not for someone who many consider the best backrower in the game, or at the very least its most dangerous. He has been given free rein to inject himself when he sees opportunities, but needs to involve himself more when the play isn’t on — as he did to much praise against the Cowboys.
To be fair, Jake Friend continues to go away from him on the second and third tackle, so maybe he wants to be more involved. Hopefully this is just two down games and nothing more serious to do with his knee.
6. Boyd Cordner (LW: 5)
Boyd was the anti-Gallen against the Eels. Not only was his workrate down (eight runs for 75 metres with 20 tackles and four misses in 61 minutes) but he failed to connect cleanly on a single punch during the melee with Matt Ryan.
Gallen connected thrice, and was suspended for his actions. But Cordner may miss a week for a series of misses.
Boyd, you gotta connect if you’re going to miss a match for throwing punches.
(26 Rounds does not condone violence in any way, but if you’re going to throw one you may as well make some sweet chin music for your troubles.)
7. Daniel Tupou (LW: NR)
He only ran it nine times but was a threat every time he did so in one of the more dominant displays seen from a winger in recent times. He would not look out of place in an Origin jersey, that’s for sure, and it may only be a matter of time before the Blues throw him into the cauldron.
He had six tackle busts, two tries, a line break and two tackles while being as safe under the high ball as Mini was in his prime.
You know how all those Internet companies are giving away everyone’s data to the US Government as part of the PRISM program?
Well, Daniel Tupou is the exact opposite of those Internet companies if you replace the word data with tries. He’s the anti-PRISM.
And that, my friends, is what you call “Search Engine Optimisation”.
8. Luke O’Donnell (LW: 8)
LO’D didn’t have nearly the impact up front that he has in recent games, running it just seven times against the Eels for 60 metres with 21 tackles and an error off a tough pass from MP7.
In the absence of Moa and JWH, games like this from O’Donnell cannot be the norm, especially when Isaac Liu and Frank-Paul were more effective from the bench.
The muscles of his muscles have muscles, so there’s no excuse not to flex them.
9. Mitchell Aubusson (LW: 6)
Aubo was again solid in defence but has lacked punch in attack recently as teams are guarding the holes he runs more effectively. he played the full 80 again against the Eels, and was solid: 29 tackles with just one miss, and six runs for 37 metres.
He’s never going to dominate a game and a stat line like this is pretty typical for Mitch, but there’s no reason why it should be. If Michael Jennings can do what he did backing up from Origin, Aubo can surely find the opportunities to hit it up four or more extra times in a match.
10. Anthony Minichiello (LW: 10)
Mini had two errors but otherwise his attack was as good as we’ve seen from Mini in four years.
He saved the game when he scooped up a Sandow chip and raced 70 metres, while also providing punch on kick returns and in general play running. He has his critics among Roosters fans, and truth be told he’s keeping the throne warm for the next-gen fullback in The Sheck.
But his attacking performance against the Eels and his positional play were superb. In all he ran it 15 times for 206 metres with an incredible seven tackle busts. It was a superb captain’s knock despite the two errors.