Soward's Power Rankings: Storm ready to pounce
With the second half of the season underway, the Rabbitohs made a statement with a fifth-straight win last week to stay at No.1, while the Roosters and Knights each jumped two spots. Check out what NRL.com expert Jamie Soward has to say in this week's Power Rankings.
1. South Sydney Rabbitohs (last week: 1)
The Rabbitohs continue to impress and deserve to be in top spot for the fourth consecutive week. They have a deep squad, they play together and enjoy themselves, and every player does his job well. Cody Walker is on fire and the Burgess boys are rolling their sleeves up. I love watching the Rabbitohs.
2. Penrith Panthers (2)
They are on top of the ladder and playing well but there's a few question marks over the Panthers maintaining it as they come out of the Origin period, and having enough gas left in the tank over the latter stages of the regular season. Face a tough test on the road against Canberra this week.
3. Melbourne Storm (4)
Melbourne push up one spot courtesy of Cronulla's poor effort against Souths. Cameron Smith will be nice and fresh and will come out after watching Origin with the clear mindset to get his team's momentum rolling as they build toward the finals.
4. Cronulla Sharks (3)
The Sharks were terrible last week and it was a game they could've won if they'd been switched on. Maybe after six wins in a row they had the feeling they could just roll in and things would just happen for them. Shane Flanagan will be hoping his team got a good wake-up call.
5. St George Illawarra Dragons (5)
The Dragons had dropped off heading into the bye, just beating the Raiders and losing to the Rabbitohs and Panthers. There was some worrying signs for Paul McGregor and they'll be hoping the bye has done them well as they prepare for a real danger game against the Bulldogs.
6. Sydney Roosters (8)
It wasn't an overly impressive win against the Tigers but they didn't have a number of key players due to Origin. They managed to manufacture a win and their defence proved hard to crack. They're holding teams to 12 or 14 points and keeping themselves in games.
7. Brisbane Broncos (7)
Haven't set the world on fire but they're hanging around and will be looking forward to getting through the Origin period and getting their strongest team on the field. The Broncos look like one of those teams that will be in that vicinity of seventh, eighth or ninth spot.
8. Wests Tigers (6)
The Tigers lost a tight one to the Roosters and Ivan Cleary would've been disappointed they left their run too late. They haven't got the hooking spot sorted out yet and this could be the week that Cleary decides that Josh Reynolds is ready to start in that role.
9. New Zealand Warriors (9)
Time will tell if the bye was good or bad for the Warriors, but there was definitely some worrying signs in their game and it's the sort of stuff that won't cut it at the back end of the season. They're not affected by the Origin period and have to bounce back with a good performance this week against Manly.
10. Canberra Raiders (10)
Coming off the bye to face a huge game against the Panthers. Beat Manly in their last game but the Raiders might end up ruing some of those tight losses they've had. If they can get up for this one and upset the Panthers it could be the sort of game they could build on over the second half of the season.
11. North Queensland Cowboys (12)
Played well without some big names and kept their slim finals hopes alive. Te Maire Martin and Johnathan Thurston were outstanding and it might've been the clincher for Paul Green to play Michael Morgan at fullback for the rest of the season.
12. Newcastle Knights (14)
Had lost four on the trot and weren't favoured but the Knights came out and got a great win on the road against a desperate Eels side that would've fancied themselves. They out-enthused Parra and it was encouraging to see other guys other than Kalyn Ponga making good contributions.
13. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (11)
A really disappointing effort against an under-strength Cowboys side. They only got a small crowd but those people who came out to watch deserved better. They looked a bit disinterested and struggled without the Trbojevic brothers.
14. Canterbury Bulldogs (13)
It looks like the off-field stuff with players on the move to other clubs is starting to affect them. The Dogs have been in a lot of games but they don't know how to hold onto a lead and often struggle to score points.
15. Gold Coast Titans (15)
They had the bye and haven't gone up or down on last week's Power Rankings. They just haven't been consistent enough and leak too many points. The Titans aren't loaded with depth and that will really test them at the back end of the season.
16. Parramatta Eels (16)
A pretty diabolical performance. It was a game they would've thought was very winnable given the way Newcastle were struggling, but nothing is going right for the Eels. They have no confidence and have obviously forgotten how to win.