Soward's Power Rankings: Roosters on top, Sharks circle
The Roosters were too good for the Rabbitohs in a possible grand final preview, the Dragons and Broncos have got the serious wobbles, while the Tigers aren't done yet. Check out NRL.com expert Jamie Soward's views in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Sydney Roosters (last week: 1)
Won without Luke Keary, and even when their attack looked a bit clunky their defence typically stayed sound, and Trent Robinson will be hanging his hat on that. They weren't at their best but know they can rely on their defence to hold firm. A Roosters v Rabbitohs grand final - I may even break my rule and go to that.
2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (2)
Hopefully they're one of the teams in the grand final because they bring so much fanfare. Unlucky to lose against the Roosters but weren't at their best. Passed a litmus test the previous week against Melbourne with flying colours and won't lose any fans if they're not minor premiers. The important thing is to hang on to one of those two spots and get a home final.
3. Cronulla Sharks (5)
This team's just waiting for September. They have plenty of old heads, experience and big-game players. The injury to Wade Graham could hurt them but this team is the smokey to take it out. They don't fear anyone, they can win in tough environments. I know they've lost a couple of close ones but I really like how the Sharks are trending.
4. Melbourne Storm (3)
Disappointing against the Sharks and don't lose back to back games very often, but looked like they tried to re-invent the wheel and strayed from what they do best down there. Came up against an experienced team that doesn't fear them. They certainly need to address a few things but looked like they tried to change too much against the Sharks.
5. Penrith Panthers (4)
Dropped a spot from last week but showed that outside distractions aren't going to derail their season. Continue to make these amazing comebacks. It won't be good enough to win the competition, but it certainly keeps Panthers fans on the edge of their seats. Need to be better if they're going to be serious contenders.
6. New Zealand Warriors (6)
A good performance at home and did what they had to do against a team they were expected to beat, now we need to see them stand up at home against a heavyweight team. They've got the Panthers coming up in a couple of weeks but it was a no-fuss performance against Newcastle and they did what they had to do.
7. Wests Tigers (9)
I still don't think they'll make the top eight but a great road win after a tumultuous week. The teams that had big weeks - the Tigers and Panthers - both went out and won tight games. They showed that the outside distractions are just that and what goes on in the dressing room and on the field is completely different. The Tigers are on track for the 2019 finals.
8. St George Illawarra Dragons (8)
Really disappointing against the Eels. The Origin hangover has been addressed but they just looked like a team that didn't know who they were. They are seriously lacking confidence. It's confusing to me that this late in the season they don't know their identity and have forgotten how to enjoy their footy.
9. Brisbane Broncos (7)
In free-fall at the moment but we all know they're a Jekyll and Hyde team that could do a complete form turnaround and win this week. They're like the Bulldogs in that you don't know which Broncos team is going to turn up. Their game management in tight games remains questionable.
10. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (12)
A good performance at home, albeit one that won't make the club's end of year highlight reel. They were down at half-time and stuck together and gritted out a win. Daly Cherry-Evans seems to be more comfortable in his skin as the season's gone on.
11. Parramatta Eels (13)
A really solid performance from a team that's finally playing some good footy. I think they've found out their player positioning for next year, and credit to Mitch Moses. I've been critical of him but he played really well running the show against the Dragons. That's the Mitch Moses I'd like to see every week.
12. Canterbury Bulldogs (10)
I just can't catch the Bulldogs. They score 36 one week against the Broncos and the next week struggle to score tries. Not having Lachlan Lewis there really hurt them, but they've had consistency issues all year and it's something the coaching staff has to get right next season.
13. North Queensland Cowboys (15)
A great win at home. They're coming last but it makes you think what could've been if they'd stayed healthy and played some of this footy throughout the year. Something's clicked over the last month and Paul Green has to bottle that and make sure they come into next year with it.
14. Newcastle Knights (11)
This side will be really good next year provided they don't suffer key injuries. They just look like they've come to their end this year with the injuries they've had and the talent pool they've got. A full preseason together and Kalyn Ponga a year older and they'll be finals contenders next year.
15. Gold Coast Titans (16)
Love the move of AJ Brimson to fullback and there are promising signs of the side they can become next year, but to let that game slip in the last five minutes in that fashion was more about bad Titans rather than good Panthers.
16. Canberra Raiders (14)
Continue to lose tight games. Ricky Stuart must have nightmares. Really disappointing at home, and when you're not in the finals you need to have some sort of motivation, be it personal or team, and I thought they could've found enough incentive at home to win that game.