1. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Stats: 17 runs, 122 metres, two offloads, 29 tackles
Welcome back, JWH!
Well, not quite… but this is at least the type of effort we’ve been crying out for all year, and it helped the Roosters to their best platform in four rounds.
The 17 runs are a season high, and the two offloads — although they weren’t exactly crisp — doubled his season total. His defence was excellent and he played a season-high in minutes (62). One play stood out, when Sio scored his first — he actually bolted over from his spot three men in to have a last ditch grab at the winger, but to no avail.
But he’s still not making the same impact with every run that he did last year, and he’s clearly slower. Regardless, the energy is just as important as the impact.
2. Sonny Bill Williams
Stats: 12 runs, 111 metres, three offloads, three tackle busts, 27 tackles.
You can’t come any closer to winning the game with a try than Sonny Bill did on Saturday — all it had to do was touch a solitary blade of grass, but a monumental effort from Jarryd Hayne halted it.
Still, SBW ran it hard when he could, put a few players through near-gaps and almost stole it at the end. He had another near-try stripped by Hayne in the first half as well.
The Roosters haven’t won a game with SBW in the line-up, but that’s merely a coincidence. Aside from the Roosters’ back three he is averaging the most metres per game (107.7) and his defence has been superb despite the three losses. To wit, here’s the tackles/miss ratio — see who stands out like a nipple in winter:
3. Isaac Liu.
Stats: Nine runs, 91 metres, three tackle busts, 19 tackles.
He didn’t play many minutes but he’s shown enough in two games back that he deserves more. Is it time to bring Moa off the bench as they did last year in parts, so he can barge at a tried defence?
Because Liu just needs to play, simple as that.
He leads the Roosters’ forwards in metres per run:
…and he rarely misses tackles, makes errors or concedes penalties.
Neither does Moa, to be fair, and Moa hasn’t done anything to deserve a demotion. But Liu has done enough to score a raise.
4. Mitchell Pearce.
Stats: Four runs, 37 metres, one offload, one linebreak assist, five kicks for 103 metres, 12 tackles, two misses.
Everything is running through him. The Roosters tried running it through Maloney more but when push came to shove, they went back to Pearce who found SBW with a flat ball to nearly steal the win.
He also called Moa in with an inside ball for his try and tried with a few probing darts in the second half to spark something.
But the ball ended up in SKD’s hands twice on the fifth with nowhere to go, and the Roosters’ last-tackle plays were piss poor all game. Some of that has to fall on MP7’s shoulders.
5. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Stats: 16 runs, 124 metres, two offloads, one tackle bust.
It was a less-involved game from RTS but he still did all he could with limited ball. However, we’ve now gone three games without a line break from the fullback/winger, and teams have begun to figure him out.
In the second half he was about to put on the Parramatta defence, but David Gower (yes, David Gower) dived at where The Sheck’s ankles would end up, resulting in a great tackle.
They know the step is coming with every run, and they are just diving at where he’s headed.
6. Sam Moa.
Stats: Seven runs, 65 metres, two tackle busts, one line break, one try, 29 tackles, two misses.
His run totals this season are well down on last year, and against the Eels he was even less involved. But that try was excellent, and he’s almost just as valuable as a decoy runner near the line now because he’s becoming amazingly adept at burrowing over and scoring.
7. Jake Friend
Stats: Four runs, 36 metres, one kick for 15 metres, 60 tackles, one miss.
His service is well down on last year. It’s not thick and fast coming out of the ruck, and that creativity and running game he showed last year is but a memory at this point. But it’s really hard to begrudge a guy when he makes 60 tackles in 80 minutes.
8. Daniel Tupou
Stats: 16 runs, 275 metres, eight tackle busts, one kick for 15 metres, two errors.
The metres are incredible, the tackle busts, sublime. And that try he scored made me nearly poke out my eye with my own boner. But he came in way too far off his wing twice and allowed easy tries, and also had two errors that could have been avoided.
9. Boyd Cordner
Stats: 10 runs, 119 metres, two offloads, three tackle busts, one line break, 30 tackles, two misses, two errors.
That bombed try will haunt him, and a drop roughly five minutes later on a double-decoy probably didn’t help his confidence. But still ran it hard and tackled to make up for it. But if they score the try off his break, I believe that would have opened the floodgates.
10. Anthony Minichiello
Stats: 14 runs, 144 metres, three tackle busts, one tackle, two misses, no errors, no penalties.
I’ll probably get crucified by some fans for this, but I fail to see how Mini wasn’t among the Roosters’ 10 best players on Saturday night. He was safe under the high ball, ran it back well, made metres and didn’t have a handling error. I’ve been as critical of his play as anyone, but shit, credit where it’s due. He played well.