1.Storm (Last week: 2)
The Storm end the weekend atop the NRL ladder and now lead the Power Rankings also. Having not lost during the Origin period the Storm faced a tough away trip to play the Warriors and did just enough. This was a typical Storm grinding win. They literally did just enough. Two tries were enough for the defensive specialists. Strangely they didn’t have any real stand outs but Cameron Smith was again all class.
2. Rabbitohs (1)
The Bunnies were stunned in front of big crowd in a milestone game. Their first loss in ten weeks sees them brought back to Earth in a big way. This may be the loss the Bunnies needed as they were pretty poor against a far more enthusiastic Tigers outfit. No need for alarm bells yet but the former ladder leaders were well below their best. Damien Cook was still very good. The Burgess brothers had a rare off game.
3. Roosters (3)
Message sent! This was the performance that the Roosters were due. A massive win over the Sea Eagles sees them return to the top four and improve their points differential in a big way. They’ve put 90 points (+/-) between themselves and the Sharks. They’ve practically put a four point gap between themselves and the Panthers, Broncos and Warriors given their hugely superior points differential. Everyone was on fire yesterday at Brookie. Victor Radley is a machine. Cooper Cronk’s kicking game was delicious. The Roosters’ outside backs had a field day and Jake Friend had his best game in recent memory. Luke Keary, oh my!
4. Sharks (4)
All the post-match talk was about the refereeing but the Sharks’ first half was just about as complete a half of footy as we have seen all season. That left hand edge was breathing fire and really should have scored at least another two tries. Wade Graham’s injury completely turned this game in the second half and the Sharks couldn’t get a foot hold. They were lucky but overall were the better side. A tough game to win, and win they did.
5. Dragons (5)
The Dragons bounced straight back after their shock loss to the Tigers by bouncing the Cowboys with a minimum of fuss. The four try to one win sees the Dragons back in the minor premiership race. Matt Dufty is a genius at the back. Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt are looking more and more like the halves they were in the opening rounds. Up front Tariq Sims put a horror Origin debut behind him with a mammoth effort. Job done.
6. Broncos (8)
The Broncos continue their run of being difficult to predict by absolutely hammering the Panthers on Friday night. They were in a completely different league to their opponents. The eight tries to three effort sees Brisbane put some space between themselves and the chasing pack. Their first half was arguably even better than the Sharks opening 40 earlier that night. Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima ran riot with TPJ benefiting with two tries. James Roberts is lightning.
7. Tigers (9)
The Tigers, just a fortnight ago, looked gone. Wins over the Dragons and Bunnies now have them set for a late finals charge. It’s no longer mission impossible, it’s more like mission very unlikely. Robbie Farah’s return has completely changed this side. They now look like they believe they can play finals footy. Words cannot describe how big this win is in terms of their season. It was a must win against the in-form, table leading side. Job done. Huge win. The Tigers are coming.
8. Warriors (6)
Ahh the Warriors of old. Did we miss them? A week after belting the Broncos in Brisbane the Warriors missed a huge chance to bank two points at home. Their top four chances look gone now after a six-point loss to the Storm. They weren’t awful, with RTS sparkling with the ball, but they needed to win this game. Shaun Johnson struggled without Blake Green.
9. Raiders (7)
The Raiders will point to two huge decisions but need to look no further than themselves as to why their finals run is done. They lost too many games they should have wont to deserve to be there in mid September. Add to that the fact they were played off the park in the first 40 here and perhaps Ricky Stuart needs to look within himself rather than placing blame to a touch judge who raised a flag for a few seconds. BJ out wide was a monster and the Sharks had no answer. Monster effort.
10. Knights (12)
Newcastle kept their tiny chances of a finals run in tact with a six-point win over the Titans on the Hunter. Three tries in the last 15 minutes saw the Knights fly home and record a much needed win. Lachlan Fitzgibbon is one of the most underrated players in the competition. Try-scoring freak from the second row. Mitchell Pearce’s return has the Knights looking a completely different team.
11. Panthers (10)
The Panthers are in free fall. Other than a shock win over a terrible Warriors side the Panthers haven’t even looked like winning. They were beaten in every single aspect of the game on Friday night away to the Broncos. James Maloney is capable of absolute magic but when he is off, he is off in a big way. The Panthers need some cattle back.
12. Titans (11)
Saurday’s game summed the Titans up very well. At times they were brilliant to watch and almost untouchable. At other times they were reserve grade standard. At the 45th minute the Titans looked home, but an injury to Alexander Brimson completely blunted them in attack. From there it was all Newcastle. How good is Anthony Don?
13. Eels (16)
I’ve seen it all. Parramatta have a win. It wasn’t sparkling but it was very much needed and that’s all that matters. The Eels faced the very real prospect of a wooden spoon but the gritty win over the Dogs has them looking up, slightly. Jarryd Hayne is playing like a man who wants a contract and on current form is the Eels’ best. Mitchell Moses had another indifferent night but ultimately won the game for his side.
14. Sea Eagles (13)
Manly now find themselves in a scrap to avoid a wooden spoon they probably deserve after Sunday’s ‘effort’. They were woeful in front of a big home crowd. The Roosters tore them apart and could have led 40-0 at half time if not for a few errors. Brian Kelly and Tommy Turbo were stand outs in an otherwise horrid side. DCE was made into a passenger in defense. Yuk. Awful.
15. Bulldogs (14)
The Dogs continue to play their backsides off but just can’t produce the class needed to win games on a regular basis. Their young halves look a real positive while a few of their forwards continue to battle bravely, but over all they’re a side who need the season to end and some tough decisions to be made. Nu Brown surely has to start at nine moving forward. Josh Cleeland can’t do much more in NSW Cup, he seems to be forgotten.
16. Cowboys (15)
The Cowboys have put the cue in the rack for 2018. Well that’s not what the players will say but the only ‘positive’ that can come from 2018 now is avoiding the wooden spoon. Their star players just can’t make an impact, try as they might. For the life of me I can never understand a team being six-nil down and taking a penalty goal. Why bother?