1. Roosters (Last week: 3)
The Roosters captured the Minor Premiership and also the Zero Tackle rankings top spot as the best team across 2018. They showed the real difference between the best side and worst side in the NRL with a thumping 44-10 win. James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell and Blake Ferguson combined to run the Eels off the park. They were well ahead before the sin binnings but boy did they make the most of their numerical advantage. Message sent, the Roosters are the team to beat.
2. Sharks (2)
The Sharks finish fourth after a fourth straight win. It's incredible that the Sharks managed to finish on the same amount of competition points as the minor premiers despite never really hitting top form. They're a gritty side who are capable of scoring big points, and must now really be seen as a threat. Valentine Holmes is breathing fire while everything Matt Moylan and Chad Townsend touch turns to gold. Josh Dugan is looking toward top form. Wade Graham shapes as the key. No other player in the competition offers what the Shark back rower does.
3. Broncos (4)
The Broncos finished fifth after a monster win over the Sea Eagles, but I'd argue that their form has them among the most likely to be there on Grand Final day. Corey Oates has been almost unstoppable as of late. Anthony Milford is lighting up the competition and has a real swagger about him. The big Broncos forwards are motoring. The Broncos look a far different side as the finals approach. That is the sign of a good side. A genuine title threat.
4. Storm (1)
The Storm took a gamble on Friday night by not pressing their stars to play. Billy Slater's absence was unfortunate and the entire rugby league community is behind the retiring legend. Cameron Munster was said to be injured but you can guarantee he would have played if it were a final. Ultimately the Storm dropped the Minor Premiership but it's a small price to pay with a fully fit Munster and co ready to fire. I wouldn't worry if I were wearing purple.
5. Warriors (5)
The Warriors went from a side who looked as though they may slide out of the finals to a side capable of going on a run and shocking the world in the space of a month. They did just enough on Friday evening to beat the in form Raiders but are now in a position to do some real damage over the next month. They finished eighth but I think they're playing better than their ladder position. Hands up who is excited to encounter Shaun Johnson, RTS and co right now? No thank you. The Fus tops the try-scoring tally.
6. Bunnies (6)
The Bunnies are back. At full strength they looked much more dangerous (obviously). Greg Inglis is an absolute monster and shapes as the key for those wearing red and green. Their 51-10 win over the Tigers probably flatters them a little but that's not to say they weren't worth their victory. There doesn't seem to be any obvious weaknesses here in the Bunnies' upcoming title tilt. The Bunnies' spine is super dangerous. They're right in this.
7. Panthers (7)
The Panthers re-ignited their title hopes with a brave win over the Premiers in Melbourne. Yes, the Storm were under strength but the Panthers did what they needed to lock in a home final. The Panthers play a brand of footy that will match up well with the Warriors in what should be an amazing match up. The Panthers big men are key to allowing James Maloney and Nathan Cleary to run riot. Good win. It has me second guessing my prediction that they'd be bounced in week one.
8. Dragons (8)
The Dragons needed this win. The Dragons got the win. That is about all you can say here. They hardly sent a message nor will they have the Broncos shaking in their boots but the record books will state a victory and that is all that mattered here. Gareth Widdop returns for the knock out fixture which will provide a huge boost to his side. Zac Lomax should be entering the finals with ten games under his belt, not two.
9. Raiders (9)
The Raiders ended their season in the same fashion they played over 25 rounds; not bad. At times they played eye watering football. At other times they played football that made you want to cry. This was a typical Raiders performance. Canberra don't deserve to play finals footy but I'd argue they are the most dangerous side outside the eight. A huge off-season is coming.
10. Tigers (10)
The Tigers' season officially ended last season, and fans probably wish it had in reality too after this performance. They were a distant, distant second against the red hot Rabbitohs. Truth be told this result didn't matter, but unfortunately the Tigers played that way. They've come a long way in 2018 but ended up a long way from eighth spot.
11. Cowboys (14)
What a way to send out arguably the best playmaker of this generation. The Cowboys read the script and played to it perfectly. I'm sure they had bigger and better ideas on ways to send out their champion number seven but they secured the win in front of a huge crowd. Ben Hampton has come to life over the past two weeks. If Ben Barba's potential signing doesn't come to pass, the Cows have their 2019 fullback right there. Gavin Cooper, what a star.
12. Bulldogs (11)
The Dogs have made their fans proud over the past few weeks with a decent end to the season. They were again brave against the Sharks but ultimately outplayed. That has been the story of their season. They'll look very different in 2019 and that may not be a bad thing. Josh Morris had a monster game in his last for the club. I'm a huge fan of Lachlan Lewis. I think Dean Pay has done incredibly well with what he has had.
13. Titans (12)
The Titans fell away toward the end of 2018. At times they played as though they could be genuine fnals contenders, while at other times they were dreadful. That was their Saturday night. They looked as though they were going to ruin the farewell for JT but ultimately fell away. A monster off-season is coming up.
14. Knights (13)
Newcastle had a far improved 2018 season and can be very proud of their efforts. No, they were probably never going to play finals footy but they had their moments. They really should have won on Saturday afternoon but fell short. Story of their season. Need to complete those last few signings before the pre-season starts and get busy.
15. Eels (15)
Parra, despite a few special efforts were well worth their wooden spoon. I have no idea how Brad Arthur manages to escape scrutiny. Mitch Moses put in the worst twenty minutes I've had to endure all season. Big decisions need to be made before Parra can be taken seriously.
16. Sea Eagles (16)
Manly, despite avoiding the spoon, are the worst team in the competition right now. Seriously, did anyone other than DCE bother trying to chase Oates when he broke away? They are a three-man team. Yuk! Trent Barrett needs to go, yesterday, and a five-eighth needs to be signed, NOW!