By the Numbers: NRL Finals Week 3
Tuivasa-Sheck's record-breaking year draws to a close, a potential fullback replacement shines, a night of doubles for the Cowboys and the numbers that prove why Johnathan Thurston is the best player in the world.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck played his final game in Roosters colours in last Friday night's loss to the Broncos and despite claiming after the game that he was disappointed with his performance, the numbers suggest it wasn't such a bad sign-off from the lively custodian. The Warriors-bound fullback came up with two try assists, four tackle busts, two offloads, a line break, and two line-break assists, as well as 261 metres, brining up an NRL-record 6516 metres for the season.
With two tries in the space of five minutes, Blake Ferguson rose to the occasion for the Roosters in the preliminary final, keeping his side in the contest after the Broncos shot out to an early lead. Ferguson also contributed two line breaks, six tackle busts and 100 metres in a powerful performance on the right edge. The former Shark and Raider is a strong contender to replace RTS at the back next season if coach Trent Robinson decides to opt against thrusting NYC star Latrell Mitchell into the top grade.
While they were slightly less disciplined than their opponents, the Broncos' ability to minimise errors paid dividends. The home side committed just five errors as opposed to the Roosters' 13, however Brisbane did conceded five penalties while the Tricolours gave away just three. Wayne Bennett's side did enjoy 58 per cent of possession which certainly helped their cause, especially in front of a vocal home crowd.
It was a night of doubles for the Cowboys, with centre Justin O'Neill, five-eighth Michael Morgan and back-row weapon Gavin Cooper crossing for two tries each. O'Neill, a former premiership winner with Melbourne, came back to haunt his old side with a try assist and three line breaks in addition to his pair of four-pointers.
Need any further evidence that Johnathan Thurston is the best player on the planet right now? How about four line-break assists, three try assists, six tackle busts and 16 kicks for 337 metres to steer the Cowboys to their second grand final appearance, 10 years after their first? The number four is also a special one for another reason, with JT taking out his fourth Dally M Medal on Monday night.