Soward's Power Rankings: Panthers roar back into top spot
The Rabbitohs won their sixth straight game but the scrappy defeat of the Titans wasn't impressive enough to keep them in top spot. Melbourne and Penrith went up, while Manly, the Cowboys and Tigers are on the slide. Check out what NRL.com expert Jamie Soward thinks of the form guide in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Penrith Panthers (last week: 2)
Regain top spot for the first time in several weeks after an amazing game against Canberra. They probably didn't deserve the right to win it but they were good enough and had enough quality players to show that come September they're going to be one of the teams to be reckoned with. They can play right to the 80th minute, they had to move some guys around and they've got the best game manager in the comp in James Maloney. Everyone's feeding off that and trusting it and they just continue to come up with the big plays under pressure.
2. Melbourne Storm (3)
A great comeback against Brisbane. This is an important period for them with guys out like Chambers and Slater and they can find a way to win. As for the Cameron Smith factor, it looks like they've timed this perfectly. He's going to be there through Origin carrying the young guys through and they're going to be around the big dance.
3. South Sydney Rabbitohs (1)
Probably the worst game I've seen them play in 2018. They had a high error count and 13 penalties in their favour, and they didn't do anything with the ball. They failed to show any respect for the ball and I expect them to bounce back this week against Parramatta.
4. Cronulla Sharks (4)
They didn't put the sword through the Tigers as early as they could've but they held on and raised the bar in the second half, and got away with a win on some special plays. They just have better players with more experience and that's going to be vital come September.
5. St George Illawarra Dragons (5)
They started amazingly against the Dogs but that middle third of the game was really disappointing. I've said 14 or 15 weeks in a row that their game management is questionable. They have a 15-minute lapse in every game. It was more evident in a gritty game and that's what they're going to face in September.
6. Sydney Roosters (6)
Stay the same as last week because they're still not putting teams away that they should. They seem like they're happy defending small totals which is great, but their attack can be a lot better. I don't know if they're what we thought they were going to be at the start of the year.
7. New Zealand Warriors (9)
Although it was only against Manly, the Warriors needed to win to pump themselves up for the back end of the year, because they haven't got many home games for the second half of the season and they're unaffected by Origin, so this is a really important period for them. They did what they were supposed to do.
8. Brisbane Broncos (7)
They were really in the game against Melbourne with a 10-2 lead and you'd expect them to go on with that, even though it's a tough environment, but their second half was really poor and they need to start getting more out of some of their high profile guys.
9. Newcastle Knights (12)
Up three places even though they lost because I like the way they competed for the 80 minutes. It was a tough game against a Roosters side that can be really methodical and don't give up points, but they stayed in the game and had a chance to win at the end. I like where this young squad is going.
10. Wests Tigers (8)
They're trending down at the moment and on the bubble. They have tried really hard to get their attack going but they let in some soft tries against the Sharks and it wasn't the standard they set for themselves earlier in the year.
11. Canberra Raiders (10)
ANOTHER (yes in capital letters) close loss. It's frustrating as a former playmaker and game manager watching a team lose so many tight games. Someone has to put their hand up and be responsible for that. You pay players more to do certain things and those players aren't doing that.
12. Canterbury Bulldogs (14)
Up two spots. I really liked their effort against the Dragons. They were down early and continued to fight and had a chance to win it. They were the best team on the day and if they bottle that and build off that, they can potentially go places in the next year or two.
13. Parramatta Eels (16)
I really liked what I saw from them on Saturday night. They looked re-energised and more efficient with just one general on the field in Corey Norman. Jarryd Hayne came back and looked good scoring two tries. They looked fast and superior and a lot like the team we thought they were going to be this season.
14. Gold Coast Titans (15)
They tried really hard against Souths and were hard done by. They went up a spot in the Power Rankings on the back of their effort, even though they were playing against a Souths side that was diabolical. It was good to see the Titans compete for the full 80 minutes.
15. North Queensland Cowboys (11)
There's not much more you can say about the Cowboys. They were pretty ordinary in Darwin and got out-enthused. It's becoming an all too familiar story with them. They're all trying hard but unfortunately it's not working for them.
16. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles (13)
They've just lost their hooker for 10 weeks and their million-dollar man, DCE, is struggling. It's been a year to forget and they're going to miss Api Koroisau. Some of their performances have been really good but their bad ones have been really bad.