With one third of the 2018 Telstra Premiership season already behind us, NRL.com Stats took a look at which clubs had shown the biggest improvement or decline compared to the same point last year and found Penrith the surprising leaders while the Cowboys sit at the bottom.
While the new-look Warriors and Wests Tigers have attracted plenty of deserved praise for their huge turnarounds from 2017 struggles, they only sit third and fourth respectively when it comes to improving on their round eight win/loss and for-and-against records from last season.
Penrith have gone under the radar a little but now sit in second place with an impressive 6-2 record – four wins and a whopping 79 differential points better than after eight rounds last year.
Second, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Newcastle who are already certain to snap their run of wooden spoons having surged to a 5-3 record despite the loss of halfback Mitch Pearce. Like Penrith, they are four wins better off than at the same time last season.
The Rabbitohs, Dragons and Titans round out the list of teams better off after eight rounds this year compared to last year.
At the bottom of the table are the battling Cowboys – many peoples' tips for premiers this year – who are three wins worse off than when they went 5-3 to start 2017, with a 57-point turnaround in their differential.
While much has been made of the Eels' slow start, they have recovered from 0-6 to 2-6 with back-to-back wins over the past fortnight. Given their early-season last year included four straight losses from rounds 3-6, their current standing is only two wins behind their 4-4 start to 2017.
The Sea Eagles, Bulldogs, Roosters and Storm are all also two wins worse off than after eight rounds of 2017 while Cronulla, Brisbane and Canberra are all one win in arrears from the same time last season.