Soward's Power Rankings: Tigers roar into top spot
They've rapidly risen through the Power Rankings since round one and this week the Wests Tigers have jumped into top spot. The unbeaten Dragons and their fans might not agree, but at least they haven't dropped as far as the Cowboys. Read what NRL.com expert Jamie Soward has to say about your team's form in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Wests Tigers (last week: 3)
Yet another fantastic effort by the Tigers. Benji Marshall is still leading from the front and Luke Brooks seems to have taken his game to another level. If this is the Luke Brooks we're going to see for the next five-to-10 years we're going to be watching a very special player. He's getting it done with Benji off the back of a team that's working really hard for each other every week. They don't give away points and make you earn everything. They showed a real resolve in defence against Manly and earned everything they got in attack. When you've got that you've got a really good contender on your hands, and that's why the Tigers are up at No.1.
2. St George Illawarra Dragons (2)
They did what the had to do, but I'm still a bit concerned they have this 15-minute period in each game where they seem to switch off. I know they're still unbeaten but I don't think if you were Paul McGregor you'd be happy winning 40-20, especially when the side you're playing lost so many forwards, and I thought they could've been more clinical at ramming home that advantage. They've got some real stars in Matt Dufty and Cameron McInnes and other guys all playing well. The Dragons' challenge is coming up in the next month of footy.
3. Penrith Panthers (4)
They got off to a slow start again and I wonder how much that trip up to North Queensland two weeks ago took out of them. But James Maloney is a superstar. I knew how important he was going to be to this team and he's up there with Blake Green as the buy of the year. With Nathan Cleary out, he's showing he can lead the side and it was a wonderful effort on Sunday. Those games you're expected to win are often the hardest.
4. New Zealand Warriors (1)
A bit of a drop from number one to four in the Power Rankings, but they carry the weight of a nation and maybe they're believing the hype a little bit. While it looked like it was a pretty close game, there were times when they looked like the old Warriors. They came up with some soft errors and conceded some pretty easy tries. The challenge now for the Warriors is to prove they're the real deal and avoid becoming like the old Warriors again.
5. Melbourne Storm (6)
The old heads got together and really stood up for the Storm. That strong leadership group led from the front and they played a near-perfect half. They wouldn't have liked conceding a couple of late tries in the first half but they showed they have enough class. Felise Kaufisi on the right edge is so important to them and Ryley Jacks didn't overplay his hand, and that showed he's probably a better fit for the Storm at the moment.
6. South Sydney Rabbitohs (9)
One of the biggest movers of the week. The Rabbitohs put in a perfect performance in terms of effort. They got some really smart play out of dummy-half by Damien Cook and Greg Inglis got involved. Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker managed the game nicely and the Burgess twins stood up and showed what they can be. The challenge for the Bunnies is to consistently get that good second phase play.
7. Sydney Roosters (5)
The Roosters never looked comfortable in the loss to Souths and they obviously drop down the Power Rankings this week. Souths look like they found a bit of a blueprint with some second phase down through the middle where the Roosters got caught lacking and got split apart by Damien Cook.
8. Newcastle Knights (7)
They faced a big deficit early against the Storm but they tried really hard and found a way to fight their way back into the game. Unfortunately, in that second half they fell away a bit, but you're on a hiding to nothing playing Melbourne in Melbourne after they've lost two in a row. Twice the Knights have been up against two powerhouses away from home and come up short both times, but some really good learning experiences will come out of this year.
9. Gold Coast Titans (8)
They started great and came out of the blocks hard to get a 6-0 lead against Penrith, but they were disappointing after that. Ash Taylor floated in and out of the game and Kane Elgey took a step backwards, and they really missed their leader in Ryan James. He's such a catalyst for everything good that happens to the Titans and so important to them the way he steadies the ship.
10. Canberra Raiders (12)
The Raiders are slowly climbing up the Power Rankings. They've won two in a row and look like they've solved some problems, but they're going to have to do it against some top teams if they're going to be anything this year. I like that they went out and built on the previous week, but I'm waiting and holding on the Raiders.
11. Brisbane Broncos (14)
I said it last week and I'll say it again - I still can't get a read on the Broncos. I don't understand how they can go and play one of the hottest teams in the competition and handle them easily, but then also dish up some of the other performances they've given us. Jack Bird at six was a welcome inclusion, but other teams have shown me more on a consistent basis.
12. Canterbury Bulldogs (16)
What a fantastic road win for the Bulldogs. They could've easily been a bit higher if the other teams hadn't performed well in the earlier weeks. This is the Bulldogs we saw in round one, this is the Bulldogs we want to see play. They have to be ad-lib, they can't be structured.
13. Cronulla Sharks (11)
The Sharks tried really hard on the weekend and at one stage they were one Valentine Holmes finger away from scoring a try and maybe even hanging on to win. They came away from the game injury-ravaged and maybe they need to look at Wade Graham in the halves and keep Moylan at fullback.
14. North Queensland Cowboys (10)
The Cowboys are usually a lock when they're at home in a game they have to win but they were really disappointing. While the effort might've been there, there's something going on that they need to quickly fix. They're not harnessing their energy in the right place and their confidence is obviously down.
15. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (13)
I thought Manly being back at home at Brookvale would be better but they were very disappointing. They showed a real lack of respect and they need to find some consistency if they're going to get better. They're in a group that has a lot of Jekyll and Hyde teams and losing at home is like two games for them.
16. Parramatta Eels (15)
The Eels have lost all six games and they didn't even score a try against the Raiders. They got Clint Gutherson back but they struggled in attack and there's obviously some things that need to change.