1. Storm (1)
For the second time in two games the Storm were challenged and responded by running up huge scores. The 38-18 win on the Gold Coast came despite the resting of four Origin players and the suspension of a fifth. Cameron Smith is still running the league while the Storm have practically wrapped up the minor Premiership with two months to go. Sandor Earl ended a three-game try drought that has spanned almost six years. Melbourne vs Manly next weekend shapes as an all-time classic.
2. Panthers (2)
The Panthers continue to roll on. Whereas their current winning streak has largely consisted of close wins, they played the Dragons off the park on Friday night. The seven-try to three thrashing was peak-Panthers. They were dominant up the middle, their halves ran riot and their outside backs had a field day. Brent Naden is an absolute star in the making and an absolute excitement machine. The Panthers now look a genuine contender. Incredible.
3. Raiders (3)
Hyperbole alert but this Raiders side is starting to feel a lot like 2016. This version of the Green Machine can turn it on at any time and there are very few who can go with them. Unfortunately, they can also lapse. After two early tries this looked like a question of Raiders by how much yet they didn’t cross the line after the 20th minute. Josh Papalii has a very real claim for being one of the top forwards in the game right now. I think CNK is the buy of the year.
4. Sea Eagles (4)
Another week, another incredible Sea Eagles performance. The high flying Manly side were WAY better than their 12-point victory over the Eels. Reuben Garrick scored a hatty in yet another episode of the DCE and Turbo show. Behind one of the in-form packs across the competition, Manly’s backline is running in tries for fun. This game had 50+ written all over it but it will be hard to find a dissatisfied Sea Eagles fan right now.
5. Roosters (6)
This had a distinct ‘messsge sent’ vibe about it as the Roosters ran up a huge score against the Knights. The 48-10 win over Newcastle had it all. James Tedesco is the best player in the game right now. Luke Keary is the game’s next superstar. Latrell Mitchell is nearing his destructive best and the Roosters’ bench is firing. An injury to Jake Friend somewhat soured an otherwise amazing afternoon at the SCG. Message received.
6. Rabbitohs (8)
The Rabbits went a short way to reminding us of their title credentials with a late win in Townsville. The 12-point victory was a grind but ultimately they got the job done sans a large component of their forward pack. Ethan Lowe haunted his former side on his return to 1300SMILES with his side’s opening two tries. James Roberts is starting to look very much at home. Adam Doueihi had a solid game at fullback. That Cam Murray is something special.
7. Knights (5)
Oh o. The Knights had everything to play for against the Premiers yet were reduced to spectators. Trailing 6-4 at the halftime break this game looked like it would go down to the wire. Instead, Newcastle had a series of committee meetings underneath their goalposts. Possession was almost 50/50 yet the Knights ran for 700 metres less than their opponents. That says it all. Every other stat was close, except the most important of all: the scoreboard.
8. Eels (7)
The Eels looked right in their contest with bitter rivals Manly early on and the record books indicate a close-ish result, but the reality is very different. They were played completely off the park in front of a big, maroon crowd on Sunday afternoon. Two late tries made the scoreline closer than it had any right to be. Mitch Moses is in red hot form but it amounted to little more than a few tries on an otherwise Sea Eagle-dominant highlight reel.
9. Warriors (11)
The Warriors tried their very best to throw this away yet ultimately a Blake Green field goal saw them home. Falling behind early the Warriors were forced to fight their way back into a fixture they were fancied in. A final-minute brain explosion almost saw them throw away a game where they enjoyed overwhelming possession and a one-man advantage. Job done. RTS is a man possessed. Another 293 metres run. Sides simply can’t contain him.
10. Broncos (12)
Here come the Broncos? I know this win came over the struggling Dogs but the Broncs now have five out of six competition points across the past three weeks. Katoni Staggs’ stock continues to rise while the names Haas and Pangai Jr will continue to dominate more than these pages. The Broncos recorded an incredible 56 tackle breaks here. Probably 30 of those were Haas. He’s unstoppable! Great win.
11. Cowboys (9)
The Cowboys were 10 minutes away from a huge victory at home only to concede three late tries, and defeat, to the Bunnies. Jason Taumalolo topped the metres, again, with 249. The Cowboys’ halves pairing of Clifford and Asiata just didn’t have enough to press the fast-finishing Bunnies. Scott Drinkwater has been an amazing pick-up. I’m not sure how Kyle Feldt missed Origin selection this year. Their season is on the line against the Sharks on Thursday.
12. Tigers (10)
The Tigers looked like a deer in headlights in the opening 10 minutes as the Raiders came out flying. Although the Tigers would ultimately fight back to a point they never for a second looked in this game. Mbye looked good and Matterson is pure quality but McGuire’s comments in the post-match conference were not incorrect. He didn’t miss!
13. Bulldogs (13)
The Dogs’ win streak ends at two after a humbling defeat in Brisbane. There wasn’t much to write home about in the 28-6 loss although Josh Jackson did complete one of the tackles of the season. Will Hopoate and DWZ are fun to watch. I like the look of young Wakeham. The Dogs have a huge week ahead if they’re any chance of containing the red-hot Roosters next Sunday.
14. Dragons (14)
The Red V started slow and despite a brief comeback were never realistically in this game. A week after Paul McGregor said they have the talent to win it all, they let their coach down in a big way. Despite a representative-filled pack the Dragons were destroyed in the middle of the park. Their season is over, if it wasn’t already. Resting their million-dollar half in a must-win match raises eyebrows.
15. Sharks (15)
The Sharks are officially a team in crisis after yet another loss. An awful completion rate and ill discipline cost them for seemingly the 20th straight week. This team cannot catch the ball despite having three clear cut chances to win it. Shaun Johnson shirked the responsibility of attempting a game-tying field goal. Andrew Fifita’s childish brain snap has landed him another enforced holiday. John Morris needs to drop his underperforming players before they cost him his job.
16. Titans (16)
The Titans started their home fixture against the Storm on fire. Leading 12-0 early they soon found themselves trailing thanks to three quick tries. Although they would lead again, that was all she wrote for the brave but massively outclassed Titans. 2019 is now about finding the right coach and building for next year. The Titans conceded less penalties, completed at a higher percentage and only missed a handful more tackles yet were wiped off the park. Shows the gulf in class.