DMW: Friday’s double-header began Subway-style and for the record, just the way I like it. The night’s earlier result provided lashings of that glorious red and myrtle sauce that I’ve been enjoying for decades now. In front of a healthy crowd of 33,381 the Roosters and the Broncos at least got a nice gauge of where they were at and what in their play needs more attention.
JARMEL: Yep. I predicted a 2013-style shut-out, and instead the Broncos put 26 on us. Unbelievable. Though what is perhaps more unbelievable is that Mini follows up his classic first-ever hat-trick with four errors to drop completely off the rankings page. That’s three bad games out of four (including the WCC). I’m a tad concerned.
1. Mitchell Pearce
Stats: Two runs, eight metres, seven kicks for 310 metres, 24 tackles, one try-assist, one line break assist, one fistful of direction.
JARMEL: His final pass to Boyd Cordner is what they call in the porn industry “the money shot”. The stats show he ran it just twice but that’s because he had better options, choosing to feed his forwards or passing long to link up with his backs.
DMW: His top billing is rightfully deserved this round. I had Aubo marginally ahead of him last week but he was super impressive grabbing the game by the collar and not letting go. He rolled the Roosters forward in attack while defensively he remained watchful of an opposite number who was putting in a blinder of a game. Pearce was simply the difference between winning and losing this game, and without taking anything away from a brilliant game from the Broncos’ number seven, it was Pearce who should have been named Man of the Match by Channel 9 because got the Roosters over the line.
2. Boyd Cordner.
Stats: 10 runs, 67 metres, one tackle-break, 24 tackles, no misses, and that try!
DMW: He’s been one of the Roosters most consistent performers as he continues towards finding his 2013 form. The belief he has in his team-mates’ ability to execute the set plays frees him up in his role and he makes it look as simple as catch, run and score.
JARMEL: He’s becoming a real clutch performer for this club. Everyone remembers his grubber to Mini back in round one of 2011, and now he can add this to the highlight reel. His quick play the balls make up for any perceived lack of metres, and gets his team rolling forward regardless of their position on the field.
3. Sam Moa
Stats: 11 runs, 99 metres, three tackle-breaks, 19 tackles, one try.
JARMEL: I can’t wrap this bloke enough. He passes less than a guy with one cone left in the bowl, but is impossible to put down with anything fewer than three tacklers. Seriously, would you ever try to tackle this dude? He’s playing his way into a huge payday.
DMW: The more opposition teams concentrate on stopping JWH the bigger Sam’s smile grows. His carry of the football was simply a display of power running in a game where the Roosters were vastly down in the possession count. It’s exciting to think that his best is yet to come.
4. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Stats: 14 runs, 119 metres, two offloads, two tackle-breaks, one line-break, one try.
DMW: There must be a time when any benefit gained from the dual positional role he shares with Mini is negated and this game must have come close to that. He was thankfully still full of running at the back-end of this one slicing past Hoffman to score just before fulltime. But given Aubusson’s good form and Mini’s poor start is this an opportunity to reshuffle our backline and cut Dodge loose at the back for an entire game, giving Mini a week out?
JARMEL: Yes. RTS dropped one kick in-goal but made up for it with his attacking play and ability to cart the ball out of trouble. When you compare what he did to the guy who is actually wearing the number one jersey, it’s not a good look for the captain.
5. Frank-Paul Nu’uausala
Stats: 11 runs, 102 metres, 10 tackles, and a renewed vigor.
DMW: Go Frankie! I want that kind of war to break out every round, and I want FPN to turn up just like he did against the Broncos. Whatever the coach said to him before this game should be passed onto SBW. Imagine these two working over a defensive line in collaboration, with Maloney along in support.
JARMEL: ‘Ken oath, DMW, ‘ken oath. This is the game we know he is capable of. He dropped an early ball trying to offload, but at least he was trying something. No-one runs at the big fella because he beats the living shit out of them, and it’s the same deal when he decides to run it. He’s an underrated passer before the line, but he’s been relying on that too much in recent years. When he tucks the goatee back and just runs, he’s fantastic.
6. Michael Jennings
Stats: Eight runs, 73 metres, two tackle-breaks, two line-breaks, 13 tackles.
JARMEL: Eight runs and two line breaks. Surely he should see more action out wide, no? He’s a constant threat — but the most consistent part is how little he sees the ball. He is averaging just 10 runs compared to SKD’s 12.3 — which shows a definite change in attacking emphasis for the Roosters from last year.
DMW: He never overplays his hand but he’s always quick to pounce when the scales tip in his direction. It was a forgone conclusion when Copley backed his ability to cover the space on his outside, so instead Jenko just went inside. Go one-on-one with Jenko so close to the line and you’re damned either way.
7. Aidan Guerra
Stats: Eight runs, 70 metres, 30 tackles, seven one-on-one tackles.
DMW: It can’t be easy coming off the bench when you’re a quality player at the best of times, but this gangly back-rower continues to make the very most of the game time he gets regardless as his stats will attest. As I’ve been saying for a while, he’s just the quiet achiever of the team.
JARMEL: I am a firm believer that Guerra needs to start and play near the 80 for the Roosters to get the best out of him, but he’s doing what he can in limited minutes. Is he the odd man out, though, when SBW comes back? Possibly, with the Roosters showing great success using two front-rowers off the bench.
8. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Stats: Eight runs, 61 metres, five tackle-breaks, two try-assists, 18 tackles, one try.
DMW: Ah… the mercurial SKD… do his better performances not coincide with a waxing moon? He was a little flighty in defense, but he did manage to use that stumble well with those limbs helping to power past a number of defenders and score in what was a very determined effort.
JARMEL: His defence was a little off in this one, and they scored three tries down that edge.
Also, I don’t know what a waxing moon is, but it sounds lovely.
9. Jake Friend.
Stats: Four runs, 30 metres, 45 tackles, six one-on-one tackles.
DMW: He was left to do much of the tough stuff in the middle on his own and this combined with the Broncos forwards who were targeting him for his lack of size and this was no easy game for the rake. He could be seen trying to pull down the bigger Bronco forwards well before any assistance came in to lend a hand, finishing with the rather odd stats of six one-on-one tackles and six missed.
JARMEL: he did well to come back from a head clash, but yeah — he hasn’t been exactly the same out of the gates this year to how he finished 2013.
10. James Maloney.
Stats: Five runs, 42 metres, two kicks for 52 metres, 15 tackles, one try-assist.
DMW: If it were not for the early ball to Jennings who managed to weave his magic to score, I suggest the BBQ would not be gracing what is the final rung on the 26 Rounds player rankings. Not the time nor the place to be critical, but needless to say his play lately seems to be focused more in the negative, and far from the creative wizardry we came to enjoy so much last season.
JARMEL: I almost considered dropping the rankings to just nine this week.
DMW: Coach Trent Robinson will not likely spend time dwelling on the final minutes of this match, instead using the previous 76 minutes of footage pointing out the deficiencies of our defensive structure and highlighting a generally poor work ethic among the players. I’m almost certain he’ll speak individually to players about their personal contributions and the importance of concentrating on the role each player is assigned.
JARMEL: … he’ll also get some glue for Mini’s hands I’d imagine.