NRL Power Rankings: Round 2
We have a new top-ranked team as the premiers slip up while Canberra and the Wests Tigers start climbing the ladder after winning starts to the campaign.
1. Broncos (Last week: 2)
Wayne Bennett's men dominated against an erratic Warriors side in Brisbane and while they haven't been fully tested yet – beating an Eels side minus the Foran-Norman combo and a Warriors side that is yet to find its feet – they rise to the top of our rankings thanks to the reigning premiers' surprise loss in Parramatta.
2. Cowboys (1)
A sluggish start against the Eels cost North Queensland dearly and after a terrific pre-season and an injury-free start to the campaign the Cowboys have been given a bit of a wake-up call. Expect them to get back into the swing of things at home to the injury-hit Roosters next week before Round 4's grudge match with Brisbane.
3. Storm (3)
They just scraped past the Dragons in Round 1 and started slowly against the Titans before clicking into gear and piling on 34 points on Sunday night. The presence of the excellent Cameron Munster in the squad means they somehow lose very little with Billy Slater (shoulder) set for another stint on the sidelines.
4. Sharks (4)
After a narrow loss to the Cowboys first up the Sharks demolished old rivals the Dragons on Sunday, and despite fielding a revamped spine this year they've managed to come out of the blocks fast. A three-try burst late in the first half shows just how much Cronulla's attack has improved already this season.
5. Rabbitohs (5)
The expectations may have been low this year but South Sydney are arguably the form team of the competition, making very light work of the Knights after flogging the Roosters in Round 1. Sure, the competition hasn't been top notch but you've still got to be good enough to score the points – and the Rabbitohs have scored 90 of them from two games. Expect more points against the Dragons on Sunday.
6. Bulldogs (6)
Got out of jail with a miraculous last-minute win over the Panthers in Penrith, with Moses Mbye doing his best Johnathan Thurston impresion with a great playmaking performance and Kerrod Holland showing nerves of steel to kick the match-winning conversion on debut. They're two from two and face Parramatta in what looks like the game of the round on Friday night.
7. Eels (7)
It's only the fact that the teams above them won this week that stops Parramatta from climbing higher in this list. Eels fans were understandably optimistic at the start of the campaign thanks to an impressive recruiting spree, but they wouldn't necessarily have expected their side to knock off the premiers just a fortnight into the season. Kieran Foran now has a game under his belt at his new club but Corey Norman's form and a strong defensive game have been the keys to the Eels' success so far.
8. Raiders (10)
Canberra started Saturday's game with star halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer in the casualty ward. By half-time Shaun Fensom and Lachlan Croker had joined them, and the team trailed 16-6 against the Roosters. Yet somehow, thanks to a barnstorming Josh Papalii and some clutch plays at the finish from Josh Hodgson and Sam Williams, the Raiders stole a one-point win and are undefeated so far this season. Their first away game of the year – a trip to Newcastle – shouldn't trouble them too much either.
9. Wests Tigers (11)
They've played two teams widely tipped to make the finals this season and beaten them both comfortably, despite being without big-name hookers Robbie Farah and Matt Ballin. The young playmaking trio of Luke Brooks, Mitch Moses and James Tedesco have been superb and while their two beaten opponents have been off the pace after some big off-season changes the Tigers have been good enough to capitalise.
10. Roosters (9)
Being without players of the quality of Mitchell Pearce, Bord Cordner and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was always going to take its toll, and despite some great signs from new fullback Latrell Mitchell in Canberra, the inexperienced Roosters were unable to close out the game on Saturday. Yet to win in 2016 but the Tricolours are showing signs of improvement.
11. Sea Eagles (8)
Two games, two defeats for Trent Barrett's new-look Manly side, although the coach at least appears to have found the way to get the most out of Martin Taupau after shifting him to the second row. Otherwise the Sea Eagles have been pretty erratic and they'll be hopeful their strong recent record against Cronulla gives them a boost on Monday.
12. Dragons (12)
After a strong display in a tight loss to the Storm in Melbourne a week ago, the Dragons were stunningly poor against Cronulla. Josh Dugan's hamstring injury and Kurt Mann's error-riddled performance at the back means Paul McGregor suddenly has some headaches around the fullback position, and the pressure will be intense in Sunday's clash with Souths at the SCG.
13. Warriors (13)
Another loss away from home will put a bit more pressure on coach Andrew McFadden and his star-studded team. There were some nice signs from the new signings – Issac Luke grabbed a try and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck made 200 metres for the second week running – but the men from Auckland don't look like finals contenders just yet.
14. Panthers (14)
Pipped at the post by the Bulldogs in what should have been a day of celebrations to mark their 50th year in the game, the Panthers are better than their 0-2 record suggests. They just need a little luck to start going their way, although that might not come against the high-flying Broncos this week.
15. Titans (15)
Eventually outclassed by the Storm in Melbourne, the Titans started promisingly and were matching one of the NRL's genuine big guns for the first half hour. They won't be world beaters this season but promising signs from their young guns should be enough to keep the Gold Coast faithful satisfied.
16. Knights (16)
The positive news? They avoided conceding 50 points against the Rabbitohs for what would have been the third straight time. But only just. The 48-6 shellacking wasn't a major surprise but the early signs are that the Newcastle Knights in 2016 are a worse team than the one that took out the wooden spoon last year. There are a lot of young players in this side though so they're all but certain to improve over the course of the campaign.