Power Rankings: Round 11
1. Bulldogs (1)
A 20-point loss would usually be enough to displace the Power Rankings top dogs, but the Bulldogs' effort in pushing the premiers much closer than the final 32-12 margin suggested keeps them at the front of the pack, particularly as exciting young half Moses Mbye showed plenty of spark in filling the playmaking shoes usually worn by NSW halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson. Against a lesser side the Dogs would've got the chocolates.
2. Sea Eagles (2)
Life sure is sweet up there on the northern beaches. Geoff Toovey's boys would've put their feet up for a well-earned rest and are likely to welcome back Jamie Lyon and Kieran Foran for a trip to Brisbane where they've lost just once in their past seven visits.
3. Storm (3)
Would've appreciated not having to take the pitch without their Fab Four (Ryan Hoffman god bless him is rugby league's Ringo Starr if ever there was one), as well as an NRL draw that has them taking on the dangerous Cowboys as their key men Thurston, Scott, Tamou and Tate will also be either rested or running on tired legs after Origin.
4. Roosters (5)
Having last year's NSW halves pairing back in their side was an added bonus for the Tricolours, but it was their Kiwi contingent that stood tallest as the premiers got the Origin period off to a bang as they literally belted the competition leaders into submission. As the Bulldogs got physical the Roosters big men returned serve and then some, with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sonny-Bill Williams both turning in their best games of the year, while Sam Moa just produced more of the same that has made him the Chooks' most consistent performer in 2014.
5. Rabbitohs (4)
Got themselves into an old-fashioned arm-wrestle down in the Shire, and without Greg Inglis were about as subtle as a sledgehammer in working their way to a dull but nonetheless important victory. Kept a side scoreless for the first time since '99, but given their opposition was the floundering Sharks we doubt Madge will be putting this one up on the fridge, and with the Roosters so impressive this week the Rabbits drop down a rung despite getting the win.
6. Eels (6)
The bye came at the perfect time for the Brad Arthur's men, with the likes of Manu Ma'u and Nathan Peats able to rest the niggling injuries that had them in doubt leading into their last start against the Dragons. And they should be fighting fit as the Eels take on the Panthers in a bid to record their seventh win of the year, a feat they haven't achieved since 2010.
7. Broncos (8)
There wasn't a bee's appendage between the Broncs and the Tigers statistically speaking at the weekend, so the fact his side left Campbelltown with the two competition points would've pleased Anthony Griffin to no end. Given four of the five games they've dropped this year have been lost by seven points or less, for the Broncos to close out a close game without leading men Hodges, Parker, Gillett and Thaiday will give the younger brigade plenty of confidence for when they return to take on the high-flying Sea Eagles this Sunday for a rare afternoon game at Suncorp.
8. Panthers (10)
Move up the rankings by virtue of the Cowboys and Titans going backwards, but with no Origin representatives there can be no excuses if they revert to their inconsistent ways against the Eels in this Friday's Western Sydney blockbuster.
9. Cowboys (7)
For all the promise they've shown over the past month the Cowboys came crashing back to earth at the hands of the Raiders, and as Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson can attest, the nation's capital is not the kind of place you want to be doing a whole lot of soul searching. Despite possessing the necessary talent they won't be a genuine premiership force until they can turn around a 0-5 away record, and they'll get plenty of chances soon enough with five of their next seven games on the road.
10. Titans (9)
Plenty of points for trying in their see-sawing clash with the Warriors without their regular halves pairing or bash brothers Greg Bird and Nate Myles, particularly to a fired-up Dave Taylor, with the Coal Train no doubt fuelled by his Maroons snubbing to post a first-half hat trick. Unfortunately though the points we award have no bearing on the NRL ladder, and the Titans' slide continues with a third straight loss.
11. Warriors (12)
NRL.com columnist Andrew Voss called it first: Konrad Hurrell is the most improved player in the comp. The happiest bloke in the game looks to be finally delivering on his potential, a scary thought for opposition sides when accompanied by a similar turnaround from the 16 other guys alongside him. The Warriors should continue their run up the ladder with a handy draw over the Origin period.
12. Tigers (11)
It may have been a contentious penalty that decided the outcome against the Broncos, but discipline is fast becoming an issue in Tiger Town. Mick Potter's men are the most penalised in the league, with the whistle being blown 94 times in the opposition's favour this year, and if they keep up the coach killers like some of their abysmal fifth-tackle options at the weekend they may have to keep some of those heart paddle thingies George Clooney used in his E.R. days on stand-by at Tigers HQ.
13. Knights (13)
They've been at their best when the going has been toughest this year, and following up a gut-wrenching one-point loss to the Sea Eagles with one of the most tumultuous weeks in the club's history certainly fits the bill for a classic backs-to-the-wall response from Wayne Bennett's men. Having a week away from the game since then wouldn't have hurt. Get their chance this weekend across this ditch when they take on the resurgent Warriors.
14. Raiders (16)
The wolves at Ricky Stuart's door have been told to beat it, but rest assured if they follow up their flogging of the Cowboys with more of the insipid stuff that we were saw in the three losses that preceded it they'll be right back there. Beating a depleted Cowboys that gets travel sickness at the mere thought of hitting the road is one thing; shaping up to a Roosters pack hungry for more after belting the Bulldogs is quite another.
15. Sharks (14)
Monday night. Remondis Stadium. High profile opposition. Origin Period. In seasons past this was the Sharks' bread and butter, two competition points they'd fight tooth and nail for, and ultimately get. But 2014 just aint their year, and while they went down fighting as always, a ninth loss to be sitting stone cold last coming up on the season's halfway point has the Sharks well and truly circling the drain.
16. Dragons (15)
Well another one bites the dust, with the Dragons clipboard carrier paying the Price (sorry, couldn't resist) for a dismal past two months in which the once famed Red V defensive wall has crumbled to become the second worst defence in the competition. Given they haven't troubled the scorers in a fortnight, and not even a guaranteed two competition points in a bye week could keep Steve Price safe, caretaker coach Paul McGregor will have his work cut out for him turning the struggling side around against the Rabbitohs next Monday.