CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14: Jordan Rapana of the Raiders celebrates scoring with team mates during the round 18 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the North Queensland Cowboys at GIO Stadium on July 14, 2018 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

1. Rabbitohs (Last week: 1)

The Bunnies are absolutely flying right. A ninth straight win now sees South Sydney sit two points clear of both the Dragons and Storm atop the NRL Premiership table. The Bunnies have also scored more points than any other club. The form player of the competition is Damian Cook while Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker are the form halves. Everything is going well for the red and green and it is fun to watch. Young Robert Jennings is having a break out year.

2. Storm (3)

The Storm now sit in second position thanks to going undefeated through the Origin period for the first time in the club’s history. They continue to win despite their Origin stars being in camp, injured or in cotton wool. I feel like I type this every week but they haven’t even started playing that well yet. Craig Bellamy is the best coach of the modern era. Cam Smith dead set doesn’t age. Those young halves absolutely tore the Dragons to shreds in an incredible game last week. They again found a way to win at Brookie.

3. Roosters (4)

The Roosters took a huge punt last night in resting their Origin stars and it paid off. The likes of James Tedesco, Boyd Cordner and Latrell Mitchell watched on as the Roosters’ youngsters did the job on the gold coast. Blake Ferguson and Luke Keary lead the way while the returning Ryan Mattherson was immense. Jake Friend directed his team around the park in the absence of Cooper Cronk. Big win.

4. Sharks (5)

The Sharks completed the 2018 double over the Panthers thanks to a 12-point win on Friday evening. Matt Moylan was head and shoulders above the rest and had the ball on a string on his return to Penrith. The Sharks are ready to offer the world to Valentine Holmes, they have no option. Aaron Woods’ signing has completely transformed this side. The Sharks had struggled with Andrew Fifita and Matt Prior on the bench, but Woods and co have lifted the side to another level. Great win.

5. Dragons (2)

The Dragons dropped two huge games over the past fortnight. You can’t look too much into the huge loss to the Storm as there were dead set 20 players missing across the park. Last night’s home loss to the Tigers is far more concerning. Yes, they had players backing up, but to drop points to a side who more than likely won’t play finals has many rushing to make choke jokes. We’ll see but the Dragons’ Origin players just didn’t aim up.

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SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 15: Paul Vaughan of the Dragons looks dejected after full time during the round 18 NRL match between the St George Illawarra Dragons and the Wests Tigers at UOW Jubilee Oval on July 15, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

6. Warriors (6)

The Warriors had two hugely contrasting weeks over the past fortnight. They were disgraceful against the NSW Cup Panthers yet were arguably the team of the round in their taking apart of the Broncos. It was chalk and cheese across the two weeks. Shaun Johnson barely touched the ball last week. Isaac Luke and RTS were barely there. The forwards were taken apart. Yesterday against the Broncos, Luke was breathing fire. The forwards won almost every contest, and Johnson and RTS had spiders on them. Huge win.

7. Raiders (10)

Here come the Raiders!? Could it be? Is there a late shock to what looked like a top eight set in stone for over a month? If any club can do it it’s the Raiders. Jordan Rapana returned and had a field day out wide in -2 temperatures. I love Nick Cotric at fullback. Josh Hodgson is arguably the most important player in the competition. He has changed the way the Raiders play. Michael Olfield was untouchable. Good win.

8. Broncos (7)

The Broncos were another club who will look back at the past two weeks and wonder what happened. They were incredible against the Titans. They destroyed the Titans. It was men vs kids. Just a week later they were being pasted by a Warriors side coming off the worst performance of the season. What’s doing? Anthony Milford looks lost. Wayne Bennett made a crucial error in letting Ben Hunt go. No one can deny that anymore. They’re looking over their shoulder at the Raiders.

9. Tigers (11)

The Tigers kept their faint finals hopes alive by beating the Dragons at Kogarah. The Tigers looked shot heading into the weekend. Injuries, lack of form. Their season was done. Instead they dusted the Dragons delivering their first home loss, and now have the Broncos in their sights. Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah turned back the clock yesterday. Farah’s signing is already paying big dividends. What an upset.

10. Panthers (8)

I think I’ve been a little unfair to the Panthers here in dropping them two spots. That said, I think the club made a big mistake in leaving both halves out of the game on Friday evening. This was a near must-win game considering the club’s top four aspirations. That said, they took apart the full strength Warriors just a week before. Again, that said, they now have a tough trot to the top four following their loss to the Sharks.

11. Titans (9)

The Titans’ faint finals hopes were well and truly ended on the back of two straight losses to the Broncos and Roosters. They were spanked by big brother the Broncos in arguably their worst effort of the season. Last night they had a huge chance to take the Roosters at home after the tri-colours rested some huge strike power. The Titans couldn’t convert their chances and are now looking at end of season specials. The less said about the refereeing the better.

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12. Knights (14)

Newcastle are back in the winner’s circle and it’s no coincidence that it comes with the return of Mitchell Pearce. He was a massive presence and scored a crucial try in the tight win on the Hunter. A last minute try saving tackle was needed to pip the 16th placed Eels, but the fact remains the Knights have a win. Their season looks done but with Pearce back and Kalyn Ponga returning soon, who knows?

13. Sea Eagles (12)

Manly are another club who ended their season in round 18. I say they ended it rather than the Storm ended it after a huge capitulation in front of a vocal Brookie crowd. Leading 12 nil then 13-6, Manly had more than enough chances to ice this but couldn’t get it done. Too many silly errors and missed tackles sum up their season. DCE had a magic week but not even he could drag Manly across the line. Season done.

14. Bulldogs (13)

Last week it was very easy to feel sorry for the Dogs after they dropped a last second result to the Raiders. This week it looked as though they had accepted defeat before a ball was kicked. That said there was a stage there toward the 60 minute mark from memory, that they showed some fight. Ultimately outclassed in a big way. A win over the Eels on Thursday confirms their status as not winning the wooden spoon… not exactly what a season is built for.

15. Cowboys (15)

Almost comically the Cowboys players were talking of a possibility of finals footy on Saturday night. After falling apart against the Raiders those chances are now zero. They were zero regardless of the result. They were brave but ultimately forgot how to tackle late. To say a side containing this much talent was ‘brave’ is still shocking to me.

16. Eels (16)

The Eels have forgotten how to win footy games. I’m almost sure of it. They HAD to win on Friday night against the Knights. Surely! They had the chance but were denied by some last ditch defense. They now look almost certain to collect the most unlikely of wooden spoons. Not once did I expect to see the Cows and Eels at 15th and 16th in the rankings or on the table. Shocking.

4 COMMENTS

  1. would be nice for my team to get some help from the referees as some of the other, more richer clubs do… not naming teams but I’m sure people can think for themselves .

  2. Apart from Tyson Frizell, the Dragons were pathetic yesterday. The Tigers should have had at least 12 more points on the scoreboard, as they outplayed a disinterested and lazy Dragons outfit for 70 minutes. Worrying signs once again in 2018 in coach Paul McGregor’s inability to find the way to lift a team who, in truth, have been sputtering along in poor form since their Round 10 loss to Souths. No chance of making an impact in the Finals, unless a remarkable turnaround happens.

  3. Nah. We’re not suddenly rushing to the choke jokes about the merged venture. Some of us have been predicting this all year. It’ll get worse for them from here on.

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