NRL Power Rankings: Round 10
There's plenty of movement this week with the big four jostling for dominance and some surprise results for the mid-ranked teams.
1. Broncos (Last round: 2)
Back on top of the power rankings after dropping down in Round 9, the Broncos were a class above the Sea Eagles and took full advantage of playing an 'away' game at Suncorp Stadium. Anthony Milford was brilliant again and Brisbane are looking red hot heading into Friday night's grand final rematch against the Cowboys in Townsville.
2. Storm (4)
It's been an encouraging trajectory for the Melbourne Storm this year, starting with a string of scrappy wins and moving onto some very impressive performances in the past three weeks. After shutting out the Warriors and Titans, the Storm earned a win over the Cowboys to kick off Saturday's Suncorp Stadium double-header. If it wasn't clear before, it is now – Melbourne are a genuine premiership contender this year.
3. Sharks (3)
They started roaring favourites against Newcastle on Sunday but the Sharks still managed to exceed expectations, with Valentine Holmes and Sosaia Feki scoring seven tries between them in a 62-0 thrashing. In recent years Cronulla were a strong defensive team that lacked bite in attack; this season so far they have scored more points and made more tackle breaks than any other team in the NRL. With seven wins on the trot they're a strong chance of the minor premiership in 2016.
4. Cowboys (1)
We've somewhat harshly dropped North Queensland down a few places due mostly to the success of the other top teams this week, but there is a lot the Cowboys can take from a one-point loss to Melbourne that could potentially have been a preview of this year's grand final.
5. Bulldogs (6)
Canterbury look like making fifth spot their own behind the NRL's new "big four", routing an injury-hit Wests Tigers side this week in James Graham's 100th appearance in the league. The Bulldogs pack is as strong as ever – they've made more run metres than any other club – and if they can find some consistency against the teams they're expected to beat they should finish comfortably inside the top eight come finals time.
6. Eels (5)
Parramatta's campaign to play their way into what is now an unlikely finals berth began with a false start against Souths, with a late try handing the Eels defeat after they had led 20-6 at one point. On the bright side, Semi Radradra has well and truly regained his 2015 form with a stunning hat-trick. The Eels still have a 12 competition points deduction hanging over them, with another update from the NRL set for mid-June at this stage.
7. Panthers (7)
Penrith made it back-to-back wins for the first time in 2016 when they downed the Warriors in Christchurch, with Tyrone Peachey the star scoring a rare hat-trick and Matt Moylan supplying a couple of try assists. Their defence remains a problem but with attacking weapons like Peachey and Bryce Cartwright in their forwards and some great young talent in the outside backs, the Panthers remain a competition dark horse.
8. Dragons (13)
They average just over 10 points a game. They have the second-worst for-and-against in the NRL. And yet, the Dragons find themselves inside the NRL top eight after 10 rounds. Unbeaten at home in 2016, St George Illawarra stole victory thanks to a Euan Aitken intercept halfway through extra-time against the Raiders and it's their knack of winning the close ones that could keep them in the finals race this year.
9. Raiders (8)
Canberra have a strong team and a helpful draw this season but they seem to keep shooting themselves in the foot, with 15 errors on Thursday night (compared to four from their opponents) and then a couple of bizarrely risky passes in extra-time that ultimately cost them the match. They should still be a top-eight team this season but need to take advantage of their opportunities more often.
10. Rabbitohs (14)
The decision to switch Greg Inglis to five-eighth was met with scepticism from some quarters but appeared to work nicely in South Sydney's comeback win over Parramatta, with Sam Burgess and Paul Carter also providing some much-needed energy in the forward pack after a lacklustre showing from the team in Round 9. They have some winnable games coming up against the Dragons, Titans and Wests Tigers too.
11. Titans (15)
Even if they miss the finals this season (which they probably will) the Titans have arguably been one of the league's success stories in the early part of the campaign, overcoming some key injuries and the loss of key players at the end of last season to claim some big victories. Monday night's win over a near full-strength Roosters side was one of their best, with halves Ashley Taylor and Tyrone Roberts producing their best performance as a playmaking duo.
12. Roosters (10)
A shock loss to the Titans on the Gold Coast on Monday night was a massive blow to a Roosters team that still isn't firing on all cylinders despite having their stars back in action. It's a worrying sign considering they're about to lose a few big names for a couple of matches over the State of Origin period, and the fact they are still six competition points outside the top eight with 14 teams sitting above them on the NRL ladder.
13. Sea Eagles (9)
There was no real surprise that Manly couldn't match it with the Broncos in Brisbane, with the Sea Eagles in the middle of a very tough three-game stretch with matches against the Cowboys, Broncos and Sharks. Their fortunes are set to take another hit with Martin Taupau facing a few games on the sidelines for a dangerous throw.
14. Wests Tigers (11)
The Tigers weren't at the races against the Bulldogs, trailing from the sixth minute onwards and losing hooker Robbie Farah to a possible neck injury in the 23rd – although Farah has since been cleared of any fracture. The arrival of Elijah Taylor at lock is a boost though, with the former Panther the kind of defensive workhorse the Tigers really need.
15. Warriors (12)
The Warriors should have benefited from their opponents taking a game to Christchurch on Saturday but the New Zealand crowd wasn't enough to get them over the line in windy conditions, with a poor performance from Shaun Johnson and some crucial errors costing them dearly against Penrith. They're off to New Plymouth next to face Canberra before their first bye of the season.
16. Knights (16)
Last season the Knights were the equal "best" team to take out the wooden spoon in NRL history, going by competition points. That won't be the case this year. They were outmatched in every way by the Sharks on Sunday and the 62-0 scoreline was a pretty fair reflection of the visiting team's dominance. The good news? This week they face a Wests Tigers team they've already beaten this season, so can take some measure of confidence into the game despite last week's result.