Round 6 Power Rankings
1. Sea Eagles (2)
Geoff Toovey's cool and calm demeanour at Sunday's post match press conference is a mirror of the Manly mindset at the moment, with the coach's relaxed appearance a stark contrast to when he was throwing his toys around his Brookvale coaching cot as his side slipped into cruise control in their win over the Sharks. Not all is well on the Northern beaches as Glen Stewart's contract saga drags out, but they're all smiles when it matters most – on the footy field.
2. Bulldogs (3)
Did what they had to do and got another two points in what loomed as a danger game with the Warriors lifting under a new coaching regime. The Dogs have now won three straight. The loss of Frank Pritchard but is a big one, and not just physically, with youngsters Finucane, Jackson, Klemmer and Co all looking up to the softly spoken 113-kilo giant.
3. Roosters (1)
No alarm bells yet for the premiers but should three losses on the trot to a trio of the competition's in-form teams be compounded with a loss to the last-placed Sharks this week, expect Trent Robinson to call for a good old fashioned fire drill, with an underperformer or two left outside when the team reassembles.
4. Titans (5)
Who had the Titans on top of the ladder at any stage this year, come on out with you? You're either a rugby league soothsayer or, far more likely, a dirty rotten liar. The Gold Coast were about as fashionable as leopard-print Crocs before the start of the season, and admittedly their gritty style is tough on the eye, but John Cartwright's men are winning the games that matter: the tight ones. They lost five games by six points or less in 2013 to wind up just two points outside the top eight, but already this season recorded wins by six, four, two and one point to have a very attractive looking bank of 10 competition points squirreled away.
5. Storm (4)
The more the Storm go around, the less they look like the Storm league fans have grown to know and, maybe not love, but certainly respect over the last five years. Their execution looked off for much of their clash with the Dragons as they slipped behind by 14 with less than a quarter of an hour remaining. Then they rattle up three tries, pull out one the most memorable wins in recent victory and secure their fourth win of the year. Nonetheless they fall a place in our rankings for coming within a millisecond of dropping another home game and being behind the 8-ball for the majority of the game.
6. Rabbitohs (8)
Souths copped the wake-up call they needed when they dropped early games they expected to win against the Tigers and Raiders, but look to have adapted their power game to suit the new rules and ruck speed of the 2014 season. Not back to their best by any means, but with the second fewest missed tackles in the league (123, behind the Bulldogs' 114) there's a defensive resolve at Redfern that should prove hard to shake even when they lose their stars come Origin time.
7. Broncos (6)
Ben Barba is learning fast the flip side to a one-team town. When you're winning and performing well everyone's your best mate, but when you're struggling as he has the last few weeks it's all eyes on you, and the down-on-confidence star looks to be struggling with the weight of expectation north of the border.
8. Eels (10)
For the past two years the proud Parramatta club has played the part of the NRL dunce, but they had all the answers against the Roosters on Saturday night and are the feel-good story of the NRL at the moment. They've made it through one of the tougher starts to the year with wins over the Roosters, Broncos, Panthers and a 79-and-a-half minute effort against Manly, so their next challenge is ignoring the hype and ensuring their positive start doesn't go to waste as the rep season approaches.
9. Tigers (11)
Remember when we said the loss of James Tedesco would prove an interesting litmus test for the Tigers? Their real acid test starts now, as the Tiger cubs stare down the barrel of six weeks without their 'Oh Captain my captain' talisman Robbie Farah, who had been in outstanding form before dislocating his elbow at the weekend. If they can get through to the representative round and a much-needed bye with at least a win against the Eels or the Titans, Mick Potter can give his young pupils an A+.
10. Panthers (7)
You could hear Phil Gould's exasperation from the commentary box as the Panthers learnt a valuable NRL lesson the hard way in the wet at Penny Park. Time and time again the Panthers persisted with side-to-side plays that proved easy pickings for the Rabbitohs defence, and a 50 per cent completion rate in the second half will have Ivan Cleary scrawling KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) around Panthers HQ like a starstruck '80s groupie.
11. Dragons (9)
A last-second loss is about the worst way to bring up three straight defeats, but the Dragons will back themselves to get back into the winners' circle when they take on the Warriors, a team they haven't lost to since 2007. Just in case they get cocky, Ben Creagh can give them a humble reminder of what it's like to lose to the Warriors on home soil. The skipper's NRL debut coincided with the Warriors' only win against the Dragons on Australian turf, way back in 2003 when he pulled out his best Brett Dallas impression as a rangy rednut on the wing before being shifted closer to the action for the majority of his subsequent 230 first grade appearances.
12. Knights (14)
Looked a different side with Jarrod Mullen at the helm, and the likes of Dane Gagai and Willie Mason were visibly lifted by their playmaker's presence, while Beau Scott and Joey Leilua continued their fine starts to the season. Newcastle's problem so far has been backing up for consecutive performances this year, and a home match against the Broncos will be provide a fair indicator of where they're really at.
13. Raiders (12)
Ricky Stuart can complain about the ruck speed all he likes but a far bigger worry for the Green Machine is that with Anthony Milford hobbled by a knee injury against Newcastle the Raiders looked largely impotent in attack. Without the young star's X-factor Ricky Stuart's new look spine had few answers and when you're also missing 43 tackles you're going to need some points to stay in the match.
14. Cowboys (13)
Doesn't it get ugly for the Cowboys when even Johnathan Thurston performs below par? They're only sitting where they are in the rankings due to the sorry states of affairs at the two clubs below them, but with only two wins against the struggling Raiders and Knights to show from the easiest draw of the first six weeks, a shape-up or ship-out ultimatum can't be too far away for some underperforming stars.
15. Warriors (15)
Showed some signs of life in the first half hour against the Bulldogs but then gave new mentor Andrew McFadden some of that classic Warriors Jeckyll and Hyde as they let the Dogs back into the match with untimely errors. First up on the new coach's clipboard has to be addressing the worst defence in the NRL; not many wins are coming your way when teams are putting an average of 27 points a game on.
16. Sharks (16)
If the old coaching cliché – that you learn more about yourself in defeat than in victory – rings true then the Sharks should at least be chock full of knowledge by now as they find themselves all on their lonesome at the bottom of the NRL ladder. Not much of a positive we know, but having now conceded 42, 30 and 24 points when venturing out of the Shire while barely troubling the away scorers with 4, 0, 4 in return, there's not all that much to be positive about.