NRL Power Rankings: Round 12
Half the competition had the week off but that didn't mean there wasn't any movement in NRL.com's power rankings.
1. Cowboys (1)
They may have been beaten without their Origin stars, but any team missing their first-choice halves and starting props – plus their best centre – will struggle away from home. Expect them to bounce back emphatically against the Knights this weekend.
2. Storm (3)
Enjoyed a welcome week off ahead of the always tricky State of Origin period, and will be praying Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk come through unscathed on Wednesday night.
3. Broncos (2)
Like their Queensland rivals the Broncos were without a string of Origin stars in Round 12, although they would have still been disappointed to suffer a one-point loss to the Tigers. Unlike the Cowboys Brisbane still had the services of their star half duo and should have been strong enough to get the job done at home. A visit to a desperate Warriors side shapes as a potentially tough game this weekend after Origin I.
4. Sharks (4)
Nothing to report for the league leaders, who will be hoping for big games and good recoveries from Paul Gallen, Andrew Fifita and James Maloney on Wednesday night.
5. Raiders (6)
Let's face it, for much of Sunday's clash with the Bulldogs Canberra weren't great. But winning games without playing well is one of the traditional hallmarks of a strong NRL side, and on paper the Raiders just keep getting stronger. Junior Paulo has arrived to boost an already massive forward pack, and fellow new signing Joseph Tapine looks more and more like a star in the making.
6. Bulldogs (5)
Canterbury blew and early lead in freezing conditions in Canberra and would have been disappointed with the loss. It's the kind of result that suggests they're still some way off the NRL's "big four" – even if they trail the Broncos and Cowboys by just two competition points on the ladder. Monday night's clash with the Sharks should be a cracker.
7. Rabbitohs (7)
A week off meant more time to work on their reshuffled backline, with Cody Walker set to continue at fullback with Greg Inglis to resume his role in the halves when he returns from Queensland camp.
8. Eels (8)
Parramatta only just managed to escape with a two-point win against lowly Newcastle on Monday night but their hunt for an unlikely finals berth is probably over with star recruit Keiran Foran out for the season with a shoulder injury and a dozen competition points set to be docked.
9. Titans (9)
Had a week off and signed the exciting – if erratic – Konrad Hurrell from the Warriors, who should bag them a few tries in the second half of the season.
10. Panthers (10)
James Segeyaro's future at the club seems shaky but the team itself remains well in finals contention.
11. Dragons (11)
This is the best part of the Dragons' season, with a gift fixture against the weakened Cowboys in Round 12 and a clash against a Melbourne Storm side without their Origin stars in Round 15. They get to kick back and relax with a bye this weekend.
12. Roosters (12)
Like the Eels, the Roosters are a pretty good team on paper that is pretty much out of contention for the finals only halfway through the season. The return of a trio of superstars a month ago didn't kickstart their campaign as they would have expected and they need a huge run of results from here to go close to the eight – starting this weekend against the Tigers.
13. Sea Eagles (13)
Coming off the bye, but face a tough trip to Canberra on Friday night.
14. Wests Tigers (14)
The Tigers were impressive in beating the Broncos in Brisbane without Robbie Farah, Aaron Woods and James Tedesco, and are set to get all three back this week. That Broncos team was vastly understrength, but if they can repeat the effort against the Roosters this week they'll be climbing the rankings. Elijah Taylor is proving to be an inspired mid-season pickup.
15. Warriors (15)
The Warriors have made six team changes this week and need something to change drastically if they are to beat Brisbane at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.
16. Knights (16)
So near, yet so far. Newcastle arguably outplayed Parramatta for much of their match on Monday night yet couldn't make their dominance count, pipped 20-18. Seconds after full-time, the Dragons confirmed they had signed Newcastle forward Tariq Sims on a three-year deal. It's been a case of one step forwards, two steps back for the Knights but at least their young guns are starting to show some real promise.