NRL Power Rankings: Round 11
There were stunning wins for the Titans, Panthers and Knights while the NRL's elite stayed strong in a thrilling round of the Telstra Premiership. Here's the unofficial form guide for all 16 NRL clubs after this week's matches.
1. Storm (Last week: 1)
Melbourne suffered just their second loss of the season in a "home" game relocated to Suncorp Stadium for Saturday night's double-header, but they can claim some plaudits for their performance anyway. For one thing, the 36 points they scored equals the most ever for a losing NRL side, with Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater at their scheming best in the first half. For another, their two-point loss to the Titans will surely go down as one of the games of the season.
2. Broncos (Last week: 2)
Brisbane weren't just slow out of the blocks on Saturday night, they stalled altogether as Manly ran in three tries inside the first 10 minutes. But the Broncos were carried by a bumper home crowd in the second half and finished strongly to claim a 24-14 victory that was comfortable in the end. Kodi Nikorima was excellent at halfback to show there's plenty of life after Ben Hunt.
3. Sharks (Last week: 3)
They haven't blown many teams away this year but Cronulla keep getting the job done, edging out a tough Dragons side 18-14 on Friday night. They've only scored more than 22 points in a game twice this year but with the best defensive record in the competition they haven't needed to be in top form in attack.
4. Roosters (Last week: 4)
The Roosters produced their best performance of the season on Sunday, smashing a talented Parramatta side 48-10. Mitchell Pearce is in sublime form but in truth the whole side was firing on all cylinders, with wide men Blake Ferguson and Daniel Tupou thriving and even Latrell Mitchell starring in his return to the NRL side.
5. Sea Eagles (Last week: 5)
Manly's impressive campaign looked set to hit new heights at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night when they led 14-0 inside 10 minutes against the Broncos, but Trent Barrett's men couldn't contain their opponents in the second half. Making matters worse, star fullback Tom Trbojevic faces six to eight weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury. They're in Queensland again this week for a clash with the Titans in what should be a cracker of a contest.
6. Dragons (Last week: 6)
Another tough, gritty performance from the Dragons this week who almost beat the reigning premiers despite being without star duo Josh Dugan and Gareth Widdop. Paul Vaughan was great up front again and wouldn't look out of place in a NSW jersey this season, while St George Illawarra still possess the best for-and-against record in the NRL.
7. Cowboys (Last week: 12)
Last week's tepid defeat at home to the Eels was a terrible result for North Queensland but it came with the club missing not just Johnathan Thurston but two other crucial members of their attacking spine in Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville. With those two back this week they made light work of the Bulldogs, with Michael Morgan stepping up with a superb display from five-eighth. They have a tough visit to Cronulla coming up but this period of playing without their talisman could actually make the Cowboys a stronger side in the long run.
8. Titans (Last week: 10)
Are the Titans the gutsiest team in the NRL? Yet again they were hit hard by injury on Saturday – as has happened to them seemingly all season – but yet again they defied the odds against more highly fancied opponents. This time they didn't just keep it close against the Melbourne Storm, they beat them in what was arguably the best victory in the Gold Coast club's history. They did it with Jarryd Hayne, Ryan Simpkins and Dan Sarginson all injured during the contest, and after scoring 38 points in back-to-back weeks they now boast the best attacking record in the competition.
9. Bulldogs (Last week: 7)
Canterbury's good news last week was the official signing of Kieran Foran on a three-year deal. The bad news is Foran won't join the club until the end of the season. The Bulldogs' current playmakers were outclassed on Thursday night by a Cowboys side missing the injured Johnathan Thurston, with the result leaving Canterbury with the equal-worst attacking record in the league after 10 rounds.
10. Eels (Last week: 8)
Parramatta were hit with a big double blow on Sunday – first they lost star playmaker Corey Norman to an ankle injury that could sideline him for a month, then they lost a very one-sided game against the Roosters. It was easily their worst defensive performance of the year, leaking a whopping 48 points, and they missed Norman's guidance in attack.
11. Rabbitohs (Last week: 13)
Michael Maguire pulled several line-up changes on Friday night – Cody Walker to fullback, Alex Johnston to the wing opposite Aaron Gray, John Sutton to five-eighth, debutant Tyrell Fuimaono onto the bench – and they worked a treat, with Souths romping past the Wests Tigers 28-8. It was sweet revenge after the Rabbitohs' Round 1 loss to the same team with former Tiger Robbie Farah a standout at dummy-half.
12. Raiders (Last week: 9)
What is it with Canberra playing Newcastle? In what has become one of the strangest cases of a "bogie team" in the league, the star-studded Raiders have struggled to put away serial wooden-spooners Newcastle in the past couple of seasons. Last year they escaped with a draw and a golden-point win but this week they trailed for most of the contest and were beaten comfortably in the end by a Knights side with one win to their name. It's now three losses on the trot, and Joey Leilua and Jordan Rapana need to get their groove back if Canberra are to get back to their old winning ways.
13. Panthers (Last week: 15)
What a win! The Panthers looked well and truly out of the contest at half-time against the Warriors, trailing 28-6 with a 40th-minute intercept try to the visitors seemingly the final nail in the coffin. But Anthony Griffin's men produced a stunning second-half comeback for a much-needed confidence-boosting victory that could revive their season. It's still just their third win of the year, but it's a start.
14. Warriors (Last week: 11)
In many ways the Warriors have been a different team this year – their completion rates and defence had improved, and the addition of Kieran Foran had given them a boost of class and experience. And yet on Saturday the old Warriors returned, blowing a 22-point half-time lead and letting the Panthers steal the win. Once again they look like a side full of potential that struggle to live up to it.
15. Knights (Last week: 16)
Good news at last. Newcastle have matched last season's output with a second win for the 2017 campaign, beating the Raiders 34-10 in a quality performance. Their 20-year-old skipper Sione Mata'utia led from the front with two tries, while young halves duo Brock Lamb and Jaelen Feeny had their best game together. They'll take some confidence into this week's home game against the Panthers.
16. Wests Tigers (Last week: 14)
The Wests Tigers' season can almost be summed up by looking at their two results against the Rabbitohs this year – the optimism of a 34-18 Round 1 win all but eradicated by Friday's 28-8 thumping at the hands of the same opponents. In between those contests the Tigers lost a coach and three star players from next season's roster, but after a massive 57 missed tackles in Round 10 fixing their defensive frailties is their immediate priority.