Dan Walsh, NRL.com
1. Manly (1)
No one quite does a siege mentality quite like the boys from the Peninsular do they? Rumours of Brett Stewart, Steve Matai and Anthony Watmough wanting out of the club hit the fan moments before they ran out and dusted the Dragons and an unflattering one and six record at Jubilee Oval. Crisis? What crisis? The only question that remains is whether the maroon and whites can maintain the rage for another three months.
2. Roosters (4)
Now that's more like it Chookies. Proved they still have the big game nous and necessary grit in defence to keep the Panthers at bay for just short of an hour, which only supports the calls for them to conduct the type of 'honesty session' that took place at their bye-week retreat up Avoca Beach way on all days ending in 'y'. Need to back it up with a strong showing against competition stragglers Newcastle this Friday.
3. Bulldogs (2)
Will be hoping the rest of the competition skipped out on their Sunday arvo capitulation to the Tigers, and forgot to set the IQ while they were at it. In hammering the Bulldogs’ monster pack with rapid-fire play-the-balls followed by lightning shifts both left and right, the Tigers pulled what had been the second-best defence in the league to pieces with a game plan sides like the Roosters are very capable of implementing, and ensured the Dogs’ engine room will be booked in for a tune up over the coming weeks.
4. Rabbitohs (6)
Rolled over the top of the Eels thanks to their irresistible barrage of big boppers, but question marks still remain over whether they have the halves pairing to go all the way. Michael Maguire looks to have spun the wheel and landed on John Sutton for the five-eighth possie, but as for his partner, it's still a flip of the coin job between the dependable, sharp-shooting Adam Reynolds and livewire Luke Keary.
5. Panthers (3)
It was just one of those days according to Ivan Cleary, but the mountain men missed a golden opportunity to put the naysayers in their place when they travelled east and returned home with a 20-point hiding for their troubles. Need Peter Wallace back to give them direction with the ball in hand, without him too much is being left to fellow veteran Jamie Soward.
6. Storm (7)
Never really troubled by the Raiders after opening with three tries in 20 minutes, and their back five of Slater, Koroibete, Fonua, Chambers and Waqa did all that is expected of your outside men, scoring four tries, making five line breaks and running for an average 149 metres each. Could be on the receiving of absolutely anything this Friday night against the Broncos, with the home side just as likely to come out firing or flatter than day-old beer in the wake of Anthony Griffin being told his services won't be required beyond 2014.
7. Warriors (6)
May well have thought they were in for another cruisy night after two meat pies in the opening nine minutes at Suncorp, and if so got their just deserts as the Broncos roared to life in what was a cracking game of footy from both sides. The Warriors are a side that gathers momentum like no other whether heading up or down the NRL ladder, and a home win against Manly is needed to ensure the loss to the Broncos doesn't snowball into something bigger.
8. Broncos (8)
Oh to be a fly on the wall in Bronco land over the coming weeks. The board's coup in luring Wane Bennett back north hasn't been received as such by senior players or former Broncos, who make the entirely valid point that if the club can't moved on from the Bennett era in eight years, when will it? With a salary cap investigation still hanging about the place, a playing roster effectively put on notice by the super coach's impending arrival and Griffin warming Wayne's seat it'll be a brave effort if the side can put these distractions to the side and continue the revival started with Saturday's superb win over the Warriors.
9. Cowboys (10)
Got the gorilla off their backs against the Sharks but didn't exactly play the house down in doing so, giving away cheap penalties at the back end of the half to give Cronulla some hope of reprising one of the great escapes they've become so fond of in recent times. Have to do it all again this week against the Dogs, and they'll need to up their game to bag a second away win for the year with the Bulldogs no doubt stinging from that pasting from the Tigers.
10. Tigers (12)
We’ve got a live one here, folks. We're not exactly sure what Mick Potter has to do to get himself a contract extension, but keeping this Tigers side’s finals hopes alive despite the raft of injuries, internal sniping and a side rich in potential but light on experience is enough in our books. Sign the man up already, he looks damn good in black and gold.
11. Dragons (9)
No longer a part of Wayne's World, with the supercoach spurning the Red V for a chance to return home north of the border, but in spite of the Dragons’ 21-12 loss to Manly in which they were caught going from side-to-side too often, the club board need look no further than the man currently holding the clipboard to do the job permanently in 2015. Paul McGregor has done remarkably well with an outfit written off as a basket case just a few months ago, and well and truly has the support of the playing group.
12. Titans (14)
Ambushed an emotional Knights outfit for their sixth away win of the year despite being well short of their best as well, and now turn their attention to rectifying their woeful 2-7 record at home. Talk is John Cartwright is contemplating taking his side into camp for home games to recreate the preparation that's proved so successful on the road, but we reckon 17 serves of whatever Dave Taylor had for breakfast Sunday morning (a try, six tackle busts and 190 metres) ought to do the trick.
13. Eels (11)
Got closer than the final scoreline of 32-12 against Souths suggests, but four consecutive losses with an average margin of 25 points have knocked their for and against into triple figures on the wrong side of zero. This effectively means they'll need to win five of their last seven to finish on 30 competition points and have any hope of featuring come finals time.
14. Knights (13)
Well and truly overwhelmed by the occasion that was the centrepiece of the RiseForAlex Round, but it's a tough marker who holds it against them on what was a proud day for Newcastle and rugby league. Throw in the news of Wayne Bennett’s move back to the Broncos, and they might be in for another tough day at the office against the premiers.
15. Raiders (15)
Their loss to the Storm means Ricky Stuart can stop using the abacus to calculate the Raiders’ shot finals hopes and put it to use balancing the books and bringing on board some fresh faces. Melbourne's Sisa Waqa is a start, but to be frank their three-quarter line is the one shelf of the Canberra cupboard that has enough talent. Need a decent half, but will likely have to wait until 2016 when they all hit the market.
16. Sharks (16)
Firming by the day for that wooden spoon, and their Round 24 clash with the Raiders down at Remondis could well be the game that decides it. After changing things up against the Knights reverted back to their reputation as slow start specialists, putting themselves well and truly behind the eight-ball by conceding two tries in the opening five minutes against the Cowboys.