NRL Power Rankings: Round 3
There's a lot of movement in our rankings this week as the Cowboys, Eels and Panthers show what they're capable of while some big teams slip up.
1. Cowboys (Last week: 2)
The premiers have regained top spot in our rankings after a truly dominant 40-0 spanking of the Roosters on Thursday night, with Johnathan Thurston and co getting last week's loss to Parramatta well and truly out of their system. We can't wait for Friday night's clash between this team and the next side on this list.
2. Broncos (1)
Could their surprise loss in Penrith prove to be the defeat they had to have? The pre-season favourites were stunned by a rookie Panther on Saturday night and will be burning to make amends in Round 4 – not that they needed much extra motivation in a game against the Cowboys at Suncorp Stadium.
3. Storm (3)
Still rolling along under the radar, the Storm were without Billy Slater but still have the kind of experience to get out of jail in tricky games like Sunday's clash with the Warriors in Auckland. They were great in the first half and were professional enough at the death to finish off the contest.
4. Eels (7)
Parra followed up last week's win over the Cowboys with a 20-6 thumping of the Bulldogs, with Semi Radradra on fire in an excellent team performance. It's early days but Brad Arthur's new-look side is looking very promising this year.
5. Sharks (4)
Monday night's defeat at Manly came as a surprise for Cronulla after an excellent showing the previous week against the Dragons, and despite losing two of their opening three games they still have a better for-and-against than the second-placed Raiders. They get a full week off before another tough test against Melbourne next Monday.
6. Rabbitohs (5)
Sunday's game was a tough one for Souths for several reasons – none more so than the fears over a possible neck injury to star forward Sam Burgess. They also struggled against the Dragons in terrible playing conditions, although the 8-6 defeat hardly seemed to matter at full-time. The early news on Burgess has been good though, and Souths get their chance to get back into the winners list on Friday afternoon.
7. Raiders (8)
After two strong wins at home Canberra would have been disappointed to come away with a draw in their first away trip of the season, blowing a good early lead against Newcastle. They're still undefeated though and have a great chance to stay that way after five rounds, with a home game against the Titans coming up before a nine-day break ahead of their next clash with the Bulldogs.
8. Bulldogs (6)
It's too early for it to be a genuine trend but the Bulldogs' form line – a 22-point win, two-point win, 14-point loss – isn't pointing in the right direction right now. They were outclassed by the Eels on Friday but have the quality to stay in the finals race for a while yet.
9. Sea Eagles (11)
Brett Stewart is back and so are the Sea Eagles, keeping their great recent record against Cronulla alive on Monday night. The Trbojevic brothers are both on their way to stardom and the pressure is off Trent Barrett for the time being after his first win as an NRL coach.
10. Wests Tigers (9)
After starting the season with two great wins at home the Tigers slumped to a disappointing result on the Gold Coast on Saturday night. They still look great in attack and are working hard in defence, but with a 63 per cent completion rate on the weekend (only the Roosters fared worse) it's the fundamentals that Wests still need to work on. They should be boosted by the return of Robbie Farah this week.
11. Dragons (12)
They secured a good, tough win in the rain against one of the NRL's in-form sides, and in truth were on top from the first whistle despite the closeness of the final 8-6 scoreline. Last week's embarrassing loss to Cronulla seems to have been the wake-up call the Dragons needed.
12. Panthers (14)
You felt a win was coming for Penrith after two tight losses to start the season, but few predicted they'd be able to beat the Broncos so early in the season (Andrew Voss was the only one in NRL.com's tipping competition to back them last week). Te Maire Martin was a revelation on debut and will give his coach a headache when James Segeyaro returns from injury, with Peter Wallace's spot in the side to come under scrutiny.
13. Titans (15)
At the start of the season Gold Coast were regarded as one of the favourites for the wooden spoon, but after three rounds they find themselves in the top half of the NRL ladder with two wins to their names. Granted, those wins came at home against the other popular wooden spoon candidates (although the Wests Tigers hardly look like strugglers so far this season) but a win is a win and the Titans are exceeding expectations so far this year.
14. Warriors (13)
There was improvement on show again for the Warriors – with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck in particular starting to find his feet at his new club – but by full-time against Melbourne on Sunday they found themselves with another loss to their name. The pressure on coach Andrew McFadden continues to mount, but there should be respite on Monday afternoon when they host the Knights.
15. Roosters (10)
The Roosters' late fade against Canberra last week seems even more costly in hindsight, sandwiched between blowout defeats against South Sydney and North Queensland. They'll be a different side with their missing stars back in the second half of the season but for now they sit in last place on the table with an average of 34 points conceded per game.
16. Knights (16)
It was a much-improved performance for Newcastle in their first home game of the season, coming back from 16-0 down to snatch a 24-all draw with an impressive Raiders side. They had their chances to win it – and wins still look like they could be hard to come by this season – but there are some good signs at last for Nathan Brown's men in 2016.