1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Stats: 21 runs, 152 metres, three tackle busts, one offload, three tackles
The Nightcrawler has been the Roosters’ most consistent and arguably best player this year — and he hasn’t even come close to fulfilling his potential.
He was the chief slack-pickerupperer for the forwards in this game, and that’s just an indictment on the majority of their forwards who didn’t get back in time to give him much assistance coming out of trouble. I do fear, though, that defences have begun to figure out his step. They know it’s a right foot step and that he’s going to use it, and teams are anticipating it better and swarming him.
Regardless, he’s still been great — just not as great as what we believe he will become. Patience is critical with this young kid, and as we wait we have to remember the present is still pretty damn good. He dropped a bomb in slippery conditions against the Dogs but made up for it with a repeated hand being put up to cart the ball up.
2. Mitchell Pearce.
Stats: three runs, 24 metres, one one try assist, 15 kicks for 546 metres, 15 tackles, three misses.
Man, he could use some help from his five-eighth, and the sooner the better. The Chooks are fast becoming predictable because all the play is going through their halfback, who is playing as well as he possibly can despite a lack of help outside him.
He threw a beautiful ball for Jennings’ try and despite being behind a well-beaten pack was able to find distance with his kicks. He’s not a DCE-type halfback who can change a game with a break from nothing — which makes the below-par form of James Maloney all the more critical to the Roosters’ recent struggles.
3. Sonny Bill Williams.
Stats: 15 runs, 109 metres, two offloads, two tackle busts, 24 tackles, two errors.
He was muted against the Dogs — but a muted SBW is still pretty good. He was the best of the Roosters’ forwards and his offloads early showed us just what we have missed.
We just hold him to a higher standard because we know what he can do, especially against the Dogs in recent times. But compare his game to most other second-rowers who played last weekend and he stacks up pretty well; just not Sonny Bill well.
4. Michael Jennings.
Stats: 15 runs, 119 metres, three tackle busts, one line break, one line break assist, 15 tackles.
He’s getting shit ball out wide. It’s always flat like Deniliquin and he’s getting swarmed by a rushing defence because it’s slow to get to him as well. The Roosters, in trying to get out of trouble late, just kept passing it to him in the vain hope that he might be able to conjure a miracle out of his arse, even though the defence was already on him every time.
Regardless, he still scored a try because if a half-gap presents itself, he’s through it. He just needs crisper ball from his halves, namely Maloney. He also put Daniel Tupou away and his defence was again solid.
5. Isaac Liu.
Stats: seven runs, 73 metres, 29 tackles.
He did all his work in just 32 minutes, and despite a dropped ball was arguably the Roosters’ best per-minute forward in this one. He’s earned more minutes based purely on this game alone, and it was more remarkable because he hasn’t played a game since the Nines more than six weeks ago.
The 29 tackles show both his workrate and how under the pump the Roosters were through that middle third and at the end of the game, and he was the only Rooster to hit over 10 metres (on average) with every run.
6. Jake Friend.
Stats: two runs, 15 metres, 53 tackles, two misses, one kick for 39 metres
The talk that Friendy had played his way into the role as Cam Smith’s backup for Queensland has all but ceased, and it’s not just because of the Roosters’ poor form; it’s because Jakey has been a bit down himself. The 53 tackles aside, his service out of dummy half has been a fraction slower than last year, but it’s been noticeable enough and it’s contributed to the Roosters’ recent malaise in attack.
7. Boyd Cordner
Stats: 12 runs, 87 metres, 39 tackles, three misses.
He’s been the Roosters’ best forward all season but looked tired under the weight of the Bulldog’s huge forwards on Friday. The Roosters really lacked punch, and Boyd didn’t offer as much as he normally does.
8. Dylan Napa
Stats: 12 runs, 98 metres, 26 tackles.
Big Red is improving with every game. The erratic, all-energy-no-focus play that was evident in round one is becoming a distant memory. He was struggling on game day and prior with a mysterious illness, which makes his measured game all the more incredible.
9. Daniel Tupou
Stats: 15 runs, 134 metres, five tackle busts, three tackles, two errors.
He probably should have scored in the second half, and the two errors weren’t great. But he looked the most likely to make a break from nothing during the second half, and despite the Dogs scoring a try down his side, was solid all game bringing the ball back and looking for breaks.
10. Sam Moa
Stats: 10 runs, 73 metres, one tackle bust, 36 tackles.
We need more Moa. 10 runs and 73 metres is not enough. When he is making metres, the Roosters are doing well. But in the past two games he’s been stopped in his tracks.