Soward's Power Rankings: Roosters at top but Rabbitohs close in
The Rabbitohs did what no team almost ever does by coming from behind at half-time to beat titleholders Melbourne, the Roosters hung on against a surprisingly stubborn Cowboys, while the Panthers pulled off another improbable escape. Check out NRL.com expert Jamie Soward's thoughts in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Sydney Roosters (last week: 1)
A tight win, but I think they were just a victim of circumstances in that they were cruising in that second half and might've had an eye on this Friday night's big game against the Rabbitohs. It wasn't a big win in the end but it's not enough to knock them from top spot because they would've been looking ahead. We've seen teams do that and lose and the Roosters still won the game so they stay at number one. For mine there's four teams that can win it all - the Roosters, Storm, Rabbitohs and Sharks.
2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (3)
A great performance against Melbourne. At 16-6 down, their season was on the line in a lot of ways, because if they'd lost 30-12 on their home ground to the premiers it would've been a heavy blow. So you can't underestimate how important it was for them psychologically. They kept turning up, changed their game plan a little and went a bit more conservative, and ended up doing it comfortably. Damien Cook continues to be the standout player in the competition.
3. Melbourne Storm (2)
When the Storm lead 16-6 they usually go on with it, but they were up against a pretty good side in the Rabbitohs. The Storm will be okay and won't be too affected by that result, and they've got a pretty good run home. If they can lock in a home semifinal and win week one, it looks like they'll make another grand final.
4. Penrith Panthers (5)
The Panthers concede 30 points and then come back and score 40. The last Panthers side to do that was the 2003 team that won the comp. They're trailed by double-digits six times this year and won, but five of those were against teams not in the top eight and that's not going to get it done in a month's time.
5. Cronulla Sharks (4)
A really disappointing loss at home, especially after dominating early. They weren't able to go on with it and didn't play with any smarts on the defensive line, conceding some really soft tries. The elephant in the room is that goal-kicking - or at least one crucial kick - has let them down two weeks in a row.
6. New Zealand Warriors (9)
A hard to team to follow going by the form guide. They get hammered at Gold Coast and bounce back against a top-eight side and win where they haven't won for 22 years. They haven't had much success against top eight teams and all their key guys stood up.
7. Brisbane Broncos (6)
I'm really disappointed in the Broncos. They look like they're only going to be home ground specialists, a side that needs to play in front of a big crowd at home otherwise they won't perform. They could've solidified their spot in the eight against a Bulldogs team there for the taking and they didn't turn up.
8. St George Illawarra Dragons (7)
This is the lowest they've been in the Power Rankings. There's some concerning signs for the Dragons and the injury to Paul Vaughan will be huge going forward. The talk is starting to get to them. They carry the choker's tag better than anyone else and it looks like it might be weighing them down.
9. Wests Tigers (10)
The Tigers would be disappointed with their season. They go and get a good road win over Newcastle, only to be spoilt by the Dragons losing to the Warriors. They'll look back at some of those losses and regret how they let games go in that Origin period, knowing they could easily be in the top eight.
10. Canterbury Bulldogs (11)
They've struggled for points all year so it was a pleasant surprise to see them put on a big score. They threw the ball around and tried really hard for each other, and off the back of that they got a well-deserved result against a side that's going to be playing finals football.
11. Newcastle Knights (8)
They lost at home but this kid Kalyn Ponga just continues to amaze and the sooner he gets in the No.6 jersey the better. I know Nick Meaney isn't there next year but I'd put him at fullback and just let Ponga go to work, especially if Mitchell Pearce is out this week.
12. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (16)
An outstanding performance. The Sea Eagles managed the back end of the game better than the Sharks and Daly Cherry-Evans really stood up when the game was on the line in crunch time. They wanted it more than the Sharks and were rewarded for their efforts.
13. Parramatta Eels (15)
A real good win against a Titans team that were coming off a very impressive win over the Warriors. It was a very quiet environment with few people at the game, but in a season when they've had very little to smile about, the Eels got a much-needed result.
14. Canberra Raiders (12)
It's hard to put into words what's wrong with this team and why they can't keep leads. How they continue to lose close games is beyond me. Ricky Stuart's press conference summed it up. I just don't understand their thinking at times during games and it's like there's three or four different teams in one.
15. North Queensland Cowboys (14)
It's tough to mark them down from last week's Power Rankings but as great as they were in the second half, their first half was really poor. I expect them to bounce back and put two good halves together this week in their all-Queensland derby with Brisbane.
16. Gold Coast Titans (13)
Just a really poor performance to come to Sydney to face a team that isn't travelling well, especially after turning up with a lot of energy and intent last week and getting a win over a top-eight side. Consistency is the key for the Titans and I haven't seen any of that this year.