DMW: Parramatta’s win over the Warriors a week earlier had their players and fans in nothing short of rapture in the lead up to this match but much like the desperate clients of Ashley & Miracle, when it came time to produce they showed they hadn’t grown any. A bunch of useless cocks out on the field with a good many more in the stands, it was the only aspect in which the Roosters and their hardy brigade of fans were outshone.
JARMEL: They are already holding two wooden spoons. That’s two hands full of spoon. Where are they going to shove the third one?
I feel sorry for their fans though. And I did feel sorry for the players, until Corey Norman came out and said Darcy Lussick’s tackle was just “a good hit”. It’s indicative of the game itself: when the one positive to come out of the game is that you think a coat-hanger was good, you have problems.
1. Mitchell Pearce
Stats: 4 runs, 51 metres, one offload, one line break, two try-assists, two line break assists, a gazillion flat-passes.
JARMEL: To be honest, one through five are superfluous. Any could have been man of the match in this one, but in my opinion what put Mitch’s performance at the top is that I find it hard to imagine how the Roosters put 56 points on the Eels without him. He was a general out there, controlling the game like a puppeteer.
DMW: MP7 was quiet in round one, but I think it’s also fair to say he was a little put off due to the ordinary form of his number six. But against the Eels he returned to his free-running best, constantly probing the opposition’s defense with each touch. He should be playing as the dominant half as it allows the BBQ time to cook and serve up his dishes that are best eaten cold. He displayed an impressive passing game that isolated opposition defenders time and time again giving the Roosters’ ball runners the advantage well before the line.
2. Mitchell Aubusson
Stats: 10 runs, 80 metres, 8 tackle-breaks, 3 line-breaks, 20 tackles, 2 tries.
DMW: I’ve dubbed him the ‘thinking-man’s-footballer’ and he drubbed one of the poorest defensive efforts I’ve seen from any team in the process. It was even worse than Parramatta’s effort in round four in 2013 and all it took from “Aubo” was his fringe running game and his usual steely determination, and the Eels opened up just like the heavens on the night, only more than once. With his safe hands and experience by simply running at the right times and picking out the holes, he highlighted a deficiency in the Roosters’ attack of late.
JARMEL: They lacked punch in the WCC and round one, most definitely. But the nine days off really helped them and the loss really bumped them into gear. He’s a second-rower, no doubt, and he needs to start to be as effective as possible.
3. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Stats: 16 runs, 138 metres, 5 tackle-beaks, 2 line-breaks, 2 tries.
JARMEL: This was the game I’ve been waiting to see from RTS at the back. He’s been reliant on the step to get through, but his ball-playing skills are severely under-rated, especially by himself. When he holds that ball out in front of him to shape a pass, it’s scary — for the opposition. He’s suddenly a triple threat. Up in the line, he was just incredible against the Eels.
DMW: Dodge narrowly misses out on the top prize for the second week in a row, but not by much. A misread in defence did allow Radrandra to score in the corner, but with RTS building with some kick returns from the back you knew the future was about to go on show. It was Hopoate who found himself with a front row seat and after a jinking run from Dodge — which included a swerve and a step or three — Hoppa was left wishing he was still knocking on the doors of suburban Brisbane. Still not satisfied, Dodge later wraps around on the wing of all places to go over in the corner to grab himself a double.
4. Anthony Minichiello
Stats: 13 runs, 173 metres, nine tackle busts, three line-breaks, three tries.
JARMEL: Who the fire-truck saw that coming? After a few dusty games in the WCC and round one, and after a season with just six tries and four line breaks, who saw Mini get half the tries he scored last year and 75 per cent of the breaks in one game?
Hands up: did anyone truly see that coming? His first hat trick of his career, just… wow. Never underestimate a champion.
DMW: The Count is back. Scoring a triple for the first time in his 16-year career must tell you something, and for mine it is that he knows exactly the role he needs and wants to play in this star-studded side. He instinctively knew to trail Aubusson for his first try; he stretched the Parramatta defensive line by staying put out wide for his second and supported perfectly for his third. It’s little contributions like these that make a difference, like passing on his experience and watching Dodge pip him in the rankings. Selfless.
5. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Stats: 17 runs, 147 metres, 4 tackle-breaks, 2 try-assists, 3 1 x 1 tackles.
JARMEL: His attack was good last week, but his display against the Eels was the best example of just what SKD can be — a bullocking centre who can draw defenders from in and outside him before using those long limbs to free up his winger.
DMW: What better way to build self-confidence than to run over your opposition? That’s exactly what SKD did to all and sundry wearing a blue & gold jersey. But the rejuvenation didn’t stop there: even without the ball in his hands SKD was in motion wanting the ball and with his team mates and the fans encouraging him, his hands are starting to find the kind of form we have all been missing. The late ball to Dodge to go over in the corner was an absolute pearler.
6. Jared Wearea-Hargreaves.
Stats: 13 runs, 135 metres, 1 offload, 1 tackle-break, 1 sore head.
JARMEL: It’s not measured in the statistics what JWH brought to the game against the Eels, but then again his worth never is. He jarred the ball free from Luke Kelly to set up the team’s second try and his ability to brush off one of the worst coat-hangers in the last 10 years to go right back at Lussick set the tone for the game.
DMW: It’s easy to sing this hard man’s praises week in, week out, but how many times can you recall his clarity and focus which he showed the task at hand? After being belted by the cheapest of shots his game could quite easily have unravelled. He could have felt more than slighted by the referees, and in particular the video refs considering their premeditated view of him. But not this time… and zero penalties conceded from the big fella says it all.
7. Kane Evans
Stats: 10 runs, 103 metres, 3 tackle-breaks, 13 tackles, 1 Mighty debut
JARMEL: So this is what we were waiting for… a guy who makes 10 metres every run, can bust tackles and has a high workrate?
DMW: I’ll admit to having been skeptical of this lad’s attitude in the past — and for no apparent reason either. Now I can say I was present at his debut, and he did both club and himself immensely proud. But I was more impressed with the excitement and passion which he showed straight after the match. His enthusiasm is gold and I hope he is now satisfied that the wait is officially over.
8. Boyd Cordner.
Stats: 11 runs, 100 metres, 3 tackle-breaks, 22 tackles, 1 try.
DMW: He is slowly working his way back to his best form after an injury to end last year, and the most recent performances by the Roosters prior to this game made it more difficult. Still, he is showing he is as keen and hungry as ever.
JARMEL: I liked the persistence from Mitchell Pearce after Boyd was inexplicably ruled to have been held up despite the on-field ref calling “try” and there being no conclusive evidence to over-ride it. Two plays later, he’s over off a short ball.
Interesting trivia: Boyd has scored the converted try to rack up the 50 against the Eels in consecutive years.
9. Sam Moa
Stats: 16 runs, 127 metres, three tackle-breaks, 19 tackles, one try.
DMW: The consummate professional and when he has a bad game by his standards hardly anyone else notices. Don’t miss the game when Sam comes from the field and says he was happy with that performance.
JARMEL: So good, so tough, so damn effective.
10. Michael Jennings
Stats: 12 runs, 71 metres, one offload, one try assist, 20 tackles
JARMEL: The very fact he is a threat out there draws so much attention away from the players in-and-outside him. He threw a miracle pass for Tupou’s try, and the threat that MP7 can go behind Cordner and find Jenko helped Boyd cross so easily.