Peter Hiku: Superb job filling the big shoes of Brett on a very big occasion. Ran the ball back hard all night with just one mistake under the high ball. A real prospect who can hold his head high.
Jorge Taufau: Such a handful and so close to busting them open but just doesn't get enough ball for mine. The brain explosion tossed pass in the first half after Lawrence's monster break disappointing should have taken the tackle.
Steve Matai: Never plays a bad game. Tried everything and put us right in the game with an inspired leaping try.
Jamie Lyon: Ditto Matai but not getting the space he needs in recent times.
David Williams: Worked hard in patches but perhaps needed to make more than 10 hit ups. Remember the days of Hoppa senior making 20 plus? What a bonus that used to be.
Keiran Foran: One of our best consistently working to create something but missed the quality of Brett off his shoulder.
Daly Cherry-Evans: Copping some criticism for overplaying his hand at times but I'd much rather see that than underplaying. The penalty that failed to find touch was however a massively damaging blow when we had a big chance to attack. All up a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly but needs a better performing pack to lay on the gold dust.
Glenn Stewart: Someone has to say it. This is not the Glenn we know. Looks overweight, continually crabs sideways, and not creating anything. With 7 left on the clock, Roosters down to 12 and sucking the big ones, we had the game RIGHT there on a plate to take with a set of 6 in their 20. But early in the tackle count Glenn puts in a truly horrible grubber and our momentum vanishes. No no no. Why?
Justin Horo: Ran at the wall of chooks all night. Great game and never lets us down.
Anthony Watmough: Defensively suburb as ever. Perhaps not his very best in attack but a tough wall to crack.
Brenton Lawrence: How good is this guy? Another great game never stops working his butt off and these regular busting line breaks are fantastic to watch.
Matt Ballin: 51 monster tackles is superb, but just has to offer more with the ball in hand. Predictable passes plus 2 runs for 9 metres says it all. See Buhrer comment below.
Brent Kite: The Landcruiser worked hard but looked a bit predictable out there with the usual left had turn and reverse manoeuvre. Not his fault though that his support band (Fa-aoso, King, Guluvao) all missing.
James Hasson: I just don't get it. For the 2nd gruelling week running Toov's doesn't use one of the 17. Even more inexplicable when our bench is at its very weakest and this guy looks to be the strongest of the 4. Please can someone explain what the hell is going on here?
Jamie Buhrer: Another 20 min stint as a lightweight back rower did nothing to dispel the theory we have a major problem here. Is it time Buhrer was installed as Ballins sub for a 15-20 min attacking dummy half spell a la Heath L'Estrange? Ballin's ball in hand stats certainly point that way and it used to work very well. Perhaps the real truth is that Buhrer is simply now a very 2nd choice option to Symonds.
George Rose: Sure he's carrying the whole pie shop, and sure he's not up to true first grade standards, but it's not his fault Fa-aoso, Guluvao, King are all badly missing. Tried his very best to bust the chooks.
David Gower. So anonymous his missing pic on the big screen meant Grant Goldman didn't even get to announce his name. Worse still even more invisible on the field. Oh how we missed Tom Symonds badly.
Overall: A strange game where our weakest 17 for the season should have got beaten by at least 20 points, but a very flat Roosters attack gifted us a stack of invitations to take the game including going down to 12 men. Yet somehow, when we had every chance of actually stealing the game, a few total brain explosions in attack sent that down the Brookie drainpipe. Our 5th tackle attacking options were dreadfully off the mark and none more so that Glenn's truly awful grubber at precisely the wrong moment with 7 on the clock and Lyon itching to get his match winning hands on the pill.
Weirdly though that's all got to be an odd positive. Why? The thing is if we can go that perilously close, (remember it was just 8-4 for an age with Roosters having scored just one complete fluke 1st half runaway try), with a badly weakened team, against one of the competitions true heavy weights, and still have plenty of chances to take it, we will surely look a thousand per cent better when Brett, Kingy et all are back on the paddock.
Remember the Roosters have put a stack of points on many other teams yet last night, despite all our adversities, the final tally was just a remarkable 2 tries to 1.
Defence: Strong as ever despite our bench.
Attack: As documented way too many poor 5th tackle options as well as panic plays mid set. This hail mary passing disease must be cured. As Joey Johns lamented after the game "they're trying to score of every play instead of being patient".
The attacking options. Simple as that. Our top 17 would have taken the open invitation to steal that game but our disappointing stray bullets let the tiring Roosters off the hook. The Hargreaves send off? For mine it's been coming for about 3 years. He lined up George and didn't miss him. Bad, but let's reserve the ugly for our real problem.
From one of the best in the comp to one of the weakest in a matter of weeks. Of course injuries can't be blamed and happen to every team leaving us down an entire 1st choice bench (Fa-aoso, Guluvao, Symonds and Kingy) but let's take another look at last night. 14. Hasson - inexplicably doesn't get a run at all. 16. Buhrer - totally ineffective. 17. Rose - tried his best but not up to it. 21. Gower - anonymous. Surely there's better options? Not using Hasson at all leaving two lightweight back rowers and big George to do it all? Nah that's ugly. Rookie Kiwi prop Ligi Sao is reportedly going very in the NSW Cup give him a run Toov's it's time, and please Kingy and Symonds come back quickly.
An odd period of the season now after our scintillating start. Next week is as good as a loss already down in Melbourne against a Bellamy team who will be lashed at training after dropping two games on the trot. We've got a month ahead with no Brett but we still have the squad to beat the lesser teams and hang on to a top 4 spot, and that telling period is going to determine our season. It's all about execution. Let's do it.