Dally M crystal ball reveals Medal winner
We crunched the numbers last week and told you that in all likelihood Thurston only had to poll any points, and/or dodge a man-of-the-match effort from closest rivals Sam Burgess and Jarryd Hayne, to sew up the 2014 Dally M award.
Thurston's Cowboys were far too good for an under-strength Manly on Saturday but by our reckoning the three best players on the park, in order, were Matt Scott, Robert Lui and Jason Taumalolo – with wingers Kyle Feldt and Antonio Winterstein probably next.
So no points for Thurston out of Round 26, but we also can't give three points to Burgess or Hayne. Both were on the losing side, for starters, and Burgess – like Thurston – had one of his quietest games of the year.
Hayne, on the other hand, exploded in the second half to almost drag his side back into the match. His two tries – the first following a freakish toe-to-the-ball play as the ball popped loose – is one for the highlight reels and firmly in the "only Hayne could pull that off" category.
We still can't take the three points off impressive Raiders custodian Jack Wighton, but Hayne's two tries, two try assists, six tackle breaks and 211 metres get him the two points... meaning our hypothetical Dally M table finishes with Thurston a narrow one-point winner over Hayne!
NRL.com's final Dally M points tally:
Johnathan Thurston 34
Jarryd Hayne 33
Sam Burgess 31
Ben Hunt 28