The Sydney Roosters Player Rankings, Round 13. Friend, form hooker in the comp?

 1. Sonny Bill Williams

Stats: 16 runs, 146 metres, three offloads, three tackle busts, one line break, two line break assists, one try, 31 tackles, four one-on-one, no misses, two errors, two penalties.

The game of rugby league sometimes comes so naturally to Sonny Bill Williams that you wonder why he would ever leave it, and also wonder why performances like the one he had Sunday and two weeks ago against his old club aren’t a weekly occurrence.

We expect him now to throw offloads, score, set some up, and tackle without missing. When he doesn’t, we wonder what is wrong with him — but take out those value-adds and instead take him just on his running game, and he’s still the best second rower in the competition. He had 16 runs for 146 metres with three tackle busts, a line break and a try — and you take those statistics by themselves any day of the week.

The other stuff is just gravy, but we expect the gravy now and forget about the steak too often.

Enjoy the steak, it’s the best bit.

2. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Stats: 19 runs, 188 metres, one offload, seven tackle busts, three line breaks, one try, another highlight reel play.

It’s kinda getting boring now how regularly The Nightcrawler makes others look foolish; except it totally isn’t getting boring.

Not one bit.

Fresh off embarrassing Ethan Lowe, Sheck took it to the next level when he busted out the Lord of the Dance jig to bamboozle Young Tonumaipea:

SheckMateCloseUp

It was a welcome return to form for the Roosters’ part-time fullback, who hadn’t featured in the rankings for two weeks in a row after a couple of erratic displays. The Roosters are developing his passing game at a nice pace, but in the two weeks prior to the Storm clash he showed he has a bit of work to do.

On Sunday, though, he just pinned the ears back and got back to embarrassing others and making the metres. His 188 metres were just three off his season high, while the three line breaks and seven tackle busts were the most he’s made this year. Just an incredible performance and the perfect ad for rugby league down in AFL heartland.

 3. Jake Friend

Stats: Nine runs, 105 metres, five tackle busts, one line break, one line break assist, one try assist, 46 tackles, one miss, one kick for nine metres.

Jake is the form hooker in the competition. There, I said it. Cam Smith is under the pump and is carrying far too much of the load with Cronk and Slater out. Robbie Farah has been excellent as always, but I’m really struggling to go past what Jake is providing on the weekly for the Chooks.

The 105 metres and nine runs are both season highs. He is following up every offload with a potential scoring second phase playing movement, and his running game is on song now that the Roosters have the fire in their pack back. He set up a great try when he found Pearce streaking towards the post, and found easy space with a long line break in the second half.

I trust now that every decision he makes is the right one, whether it’s kicking, running it or not or picking which side to distribute to.

4. Daniel Tupou

Stats: 13 runs, 144 metres, two offloads, seven tackle busts, one line break.

He is a lock to play Origin II, and his form since Game I has been nothing short of incredible. He makes line breaks when it looks like he’s ambling, he’s impossible to put down, he can bust any tackle and teams have to prepare for him now — something that they don’t have to do for a lot of wingers in this competition.

That break he made in the second half was captivating; he picked out some real shitty defence and looked to be coasting his way to a tackle before he turned on the gas and broke through with ease.

How Parramatta — or anyone besides the Roosters for that matter — didn’t see talent in this kid is beyond me.

5. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

Stats: 16 runs, 124 metres, 21 tackles, no misses

The additions of Remi Casty and Dylan Napa and increased responsibility on the backs to cart the ball up has taken some of the load off Jared as he slowly finds his way back to that devastating form from last year. His offload is almost an afterthought though, which is a shame: it was an effective weapon last year and perhaps teams are better prepared for it.

Thank fuck he wasn’t charged for that head-high tackle on Norrie though, because it was clearly just reckless and looked more spectacular than it was dangerous.

6. Shaun Kenny-Dowall

Stats: 12 runs, 115 metres, four offloads, nine tackle busts (NINE!), one line break assist, one try assist, 10 tackles, three misses, two errors. 

Skiddzy falls a bit because the Storm scored two easy tries down his side when he charged out of the line and they attacked behind him, and he also had a couple of drops. But take those out of it, and SKD would be up there claiming man of the match honours or coming damn close to it.

His nine tackle busts were a season high, as were the four offloads. He put Mini away for the game’s first try, and nearly scored a couple himself. He was impossible to put down, and the direct nature of his running has been an absolute highlight of the 2014 season.

7. James Maloney

Stats: Four runs, 37 metres, two tackle busts, one line break, one line break assist, two try assists, nine kicks for 178 metres, 19 tackles, three one-on-one, two misses

Jimmy didn’t overplay his hand; instead, he just set up two tries by playing what the game gave him. His kicking game was  slightly off but he almost had the play of the game just prior to half time when he grubbered through the line for a streaking Mini, only for the ball to bounce just an inch too low for the fullback whose back might as well have a large pole holding it upright these days.

8. Michael Jennings

Stats: 15 runs, 133 metres, four tackle busts, one line break, 14 tackles, three misses.

Jenko was heavily involved without being a game-winner in this one, but the very threat of what he can do must have most opponents on edge. He attacked Will Chambers all game and combined well with his winger to stretch the defence. He’s always a handful, and the Roosters did a good job of getting him involved.

9. Mitchell Pearce

Stats: Six runs, 62 metres, four tackle busts, one line break, four kicks for 128 metres, 11 tackles, three misses, one error, one try.

He kicked it out on the full to gift the Storm some easy metres, and also, on a break, chose to go back into the defence for some reason rather that step out and back himself to slide over. He was also the last man in the line after SKD rushed out, and didn’t stop two tries (although not many would).

Regardless, his kicking game was strong and his running game was effective.

10.  Dylan Napa

Stats: 12 runs, 100 metres, 20 tackles, no misses.

Big Red’s work rate is climbing up the charts, and he’s playing with a control that he didn’t have as recently as round one. He’s propping up the forward pack in the middle third of the game when both Sam Moa and JWH are off, and every time I looked up he was there taking a hitup when needed. To wit, he leads the club with a hit up every 3.81 minutes.

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