1. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Stats: 17 runs, 261 metres, three line breaks, five tackle busts, two tries, two errors, five tackles, no misses.
Where the fuck did that come from??
To be fair, SKD’s running game has actually been quite good this year: he’s playing direct and eating metres like they’re eckys and he’s Lindsay Lohan. He’s averaging 115 metres a game off 13 runs, and he’s busting tackles at a rate of 2.71 a game. But prior to this game he had just one line break and one try.
He’s a winger, there’s no two ways about it. And when the Roosters sign a centre next year (watch this space) it will be his permanent home. He seems stifled in the centres, if that makes sense: there’s a need for him to cater to his winger and defend in greater amounts. But on the wing he’s protected by the sideline in defence, and in attack he can return kicks with space and run from dummy half on the first tackle as opposed to the third or fourth.
Welcome back, SKD.
2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Stats: 18 runs, 179 metres, three offloads, six tackle busts.
I covered RTS’ growth as a fullback at length in the review this week, and the stats speak for themselves. So without the need to repeat the praise I’ve already heaped upon this kid, let’s just watch some magic:
I can honestly say that I have never, EVER, seen a passage of play like that.
Watching that is what I imagine it was like watching Michael Jackson do the Moonwalk for the first time, or watching the world’s first filmed deep-throating.
I was steadily increasing my volume on this play, from whoa… to WHOA… before culminating in a WHAT THE FUCK!
The Sheck should have just dropped the mic, said “peace” and walked off the stage after that.
3. Sam Moa
Stats: 15 runs, 151 metres, three tackle busts, 19 tackles.
He’s a brick… HAOOOWSE.
Is it a coincidence that the Roosters lost three straight games with Victa running it 10 times or fewer in each game? Is the coincidence strengthened by the fact the Roosters won with a return to form for the barnstorming Moa who had 15 runs and 151 metres?
Perhaps, but let’s look at the numbers to confirm it. In three wins, Moa has averaged 14 runs, 125 metres and two tackle busts. In four losses, those numbers fall to just 8.25 runs, 65.25 metres and 0.75 tackle busts.
It’s confirmed. As Moa goes, so go the Roosters. He needs to stay on the field get the ball consistently, because he does two things well: running hard, and hitting fuckers.
Who are we to stop him?
4. Boyd Cordner.
Stats: 14 runs, 115 metres, four tackle busts, one line break, 31 tackles, three misses.
He had a number of runs the Roosters needed big time in the second half, and made the extra metre through a few selective angled runs back into the defence. He’s probably missing a few too many tackles this year (two per game) but he’s been the Roosters’ most consistent second-rower all season.
5. Michael Jennings
Stats: 18 runs, 181 metres, nine tackle busts (NINE!), one line break assist, one try assist, 13 tackles, three misses.
Jenko hasn’t quite had the start to the year that he did last year, but it’s hardly his fault: he’s lacked quality ball from his halves all year and as a result has rarely had the space to do what Jenko do.
But the Sharks’ game was a return to some of his best work, especially when he broke the fuck out of Todd Carney’s ankles:
Boom. That, my friends, is what happens when Jennings gets quality ball.
6. Jake Friend
Stats: Five runs, 57 metres, one tackle bust, two kicks for 35 metres, 38 tackles, three misses
This was probably Jake’s best game of the year, but still his form is hardly the form that set the league world all aflutter last year. He was creative with two kicks and his running game was back: he picked out lazy dummy-half runners on a number of occasions. We probably expected more from Jakey this year because his rise last year was so meteoric, but it hasn’t been the case this year.
7. Sonny Bill Williams
Stats: 17 runs, 131 metres, one tackle bust, three offloads, 13 tackles, two misses.
It’s one thing to see SBW being bumped off by Greg Inglis in a game with the minor premiership on the line; it’s quite another to see him fended off by Ricky Leutele in round seven. His force in getting through the line and hitting motherfuckers is down on last year. He looks lighter and hasn’t got as physical a presence about him this year.
Regardless, I’d still take this SBW over any other second rower in the premiership, and towards the end of the year he’ll be much more of a force. He’s an athlete that truly knows his body, and that aggression will be back. Hopefully it’s this week, against the Dragons.
8. James Maloney
Stats: Four runs, 82 metres, one offload, five tackle busts, one line break, 10 kicks for 217 metres, 24 tackles, five misses.
Against the Sharks, Jimmy played with an authority he’s lacked all year. he was barking orders, running it hard and throwing his body in the way of everyone. He missed five tackles, which is a concern, but there’s something to be said for his defence which stopped the momentum of their forwards several times in the match. He got bumped off easily but he got his body in the way.
He had a few nice grubbers in-goal and gave much better service to Jenko than he has all year.
9. Aidan Guerra
Stats: 10 runs, 101 metres, three tackle busts, one line break, 35 tackles, one miss.
What he fell over is anyone’s guess, but Guerra’s defence at least was a highlight for the maladroit lock. He had three one-on-one tackles and hit the Sharks well.
He and Aubusson are similar in that they both probably need to play the 80 to see the best of them, as they warm into games. But with SBW and Cords also 80-minute players, it’s unlikely we’ll get a repeat of Guerra’s 200 metre, two-try, 12 tackle-bust and four line-break performance that we saw against the Knights in the GF qualifier last year.
10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Stats: Eight runs, 79 metres, one offload, 23 tackles, no misses, no penalties.
It was a safe, “meh” performance from Jared in this one — his defence was solid and his metres per run were up, but the impact wasn’t there as a lot of the running went through his partner in crime in the front row.