1. Boyd Cordner
Stats: 15 runs, 118 metres, one try, three tackle busts, one line break, 14 tackles
One and two can pretty much be split here, but for mine, watching the game from the ground the most impressive player on Friday versus the Dragons was Boyd Cordner.
He was putting his hand up on either side of the ruck, his fourth tackle runs enabling Friendy to create against a retreating defence and I thought his try was the most deserving of the entire game.
He can spot the half-gaps in defence almost as easily as people can spot his chin from space, and he’s adding some late zig-zagging footwork before he gets to the line to get that extra metre.
He probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves from fans of other clubs, but they don’t get the pleasure of watching him and supporting him every week. He’s finally injury free and has been rewarded with a spot on the bench for the Kangaroos this week.
2. Jake Friend
Stats: Four runs, 39 metres, one try, one kick for 17 metres, 42 tackles.
The world’s best sawn-off rake bounced back to his form from last year with a brilliant showing against the Dragons, who have struggled to contain him in the past 18 months.
He’s still wildly underrated by most in the game, and this year he’s been off: his service out of dummy half hasn’t been as crisp but a lot of that must come down to the lack of oomph from his forwards, who haven’t set a platform for the majority of the season for him to be creative behind. But in the past two weeks he’s been fantastic, epitomised by his kick-and-chase for a brilliant individual try.
3. Aidan Guerra
Stats: 10 runs, 112 metres, one offload, 10 tackle busts (Not a misprint), one line break, one try, 23 tackles.
The Italian Gumby has pretty much cemented the lock spot for this year and beyond with an excellent start to the season, and especially in the past two weeks when he’s scored a try and almost another but for a late trip over his own plasticine feet.
How any club prepares for Guerra when he’s hitting the line is beyond me. He looks like he’s falling every single time someone touches him but he manages to stay upright as he did for the game’s first try:
An underrated aspect of Guerra this year though has been his defence: he’s second at the club in one-on-one tackles at 2.25 per game and is missing just one tackle for every 18.58 makes, fourth at the club behind just Mitch Aubusson, Sonny Bill Williams and Frank Paul Nuuasala.
4. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Stats: 17 runs, 144 metres, one tackle bust, 25 tackles.
This was some old school Jared Waerea-Mutherfuckin’-Hargreaves shit: he was tough and energetic in defence and his attack finally resembled his old self with 144 metres gained — a season-high and nearly 50 metres above his season average of 97.3.
When he and Moa share the load, the Roosters win and win easily as they showed last year — but it hasn’t happened nearly enough in 2014. Just three times this season have both Moa and Jared run it for double-digit runs apiece: not surprisingly, all three have been wins (the other win when they didn’t both crack double digits was last week against the Sharks).
In those three wins the Roosters have averaged 40 points and scored no less than 30.
So if Jasam Moarea-Hargreaves gets 20 hitups or more, the Roosters score easily, it appears.
5. James Maloney
Stats: Four runs, 34 metres, one tackle bust, two line break assists, two try assists, seven kicks for 184 metres, eight tackles, two one-on-one, two misses.
Jimmy was angry with the world as recently as two weeks ago when he was copping it on social media, traditional media and even this blog. But his last two weeks have been the best he’s played all year and he’s been the chief exponent fo the Roosters’ adapted focus towards short kicks and repeat sets. His running game is also back, proven when he was held up twice.
He also threw one of the more boner-inducing passes of the year when he cut out SKD and found Mini unmarked on the wing:
Then some Dragons prick busts his shoulder. Those fuckers.
6. Michael Jennings
Stats: 14 runs, 140 metres, three offloads, three tackle busts, two line breaks, one try assist, four tackles.
I’ve never quite seen an athlete do what Jennings does. First, he had that amazing try to seal the grand final last year, and this year he throws an offload while falling to the ground, grabs the tap back in as he’s getting up, races away for a line break, almost steps the fullback before offloading for the try assist AS HE’S FALLING TO THE GROUND AGAIN:
Hmmm… in what world is Jamal Idris a better player than Jennings?
7. Sam Moa
Stats: 12 runs, 112 metres, two tackle busts, 24 tackles, one miss.
We mentioned above how his combination with Jared is critical to the easy scoring of points, and we mentioned last week how as Moa goes, so go the Roosters.
In four wins, Moa’s averaging 13.5 runs, 121.75 metres and two tackle busts. In four losses, those numbers fall to just 8.25 runs, 65.25 metres and 0.75 tackle busts. His and Jared’s performances against the Dragons correlate both of the claims, and Moa’s selection for the Kiwis ahead of his partner in crime shows just how damn good he’s been this season.
8. Shaun Kenny-Dowall
Stats: 15 runs, 122 metres, two offloads, four tackle busts, one line break, one try, 17 tackles, three one-on-one, two misses.
Is Shaun Kenny-Dowall in career-best form? Steve Kearney may disagree, but his attack is nearly back to its best (it’s not quite at that 2010 level but he has a different role in this squad) and his defence has improved to be well ahead of any point in his career. Sure, Beale scored an easy try on his side this week and his reads can be erratic, but he’s not the one who missed the tackle on Beale: RTS did with a poor effort. Regardless, his running and metre-making are making up for any perceived defensive lapses.
9. Daniel Tupou
Stats: 11 runs, 89 metres, one line break assist, one try, four tackles, three errors.
Only City Origin rep Daniel Tupou and Stretch Armstrong could keep the ball in from that offload from Jenko, and only Daniel Tupou could recover to back up that play for the try. He’s safe under the high ball and stopped a few raids; he only falls really because of the three errors.
10. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
Stats: 16 runs, 149 metres, four tackle busts, four tackles, two misses.
He missed a tackle on Gerard Beale but most would be hard-pressed to stop a speedy centre at close range. And besides, his work at the back was again excellent and his play in the line is creating headaches for opposition teams, which now need to shadow him all game — something they don’t have to do with Mini.