Soward's Power Rankings: Sharks surge into top spot
Losses from the Roosters and Rabbitohs allowed the Storm to regain top spot on the Telstra Premiership ladder, while the Warriors, Panthers and Tigers all missed opportunities to make big moves.
Meanwhile, the Sharks are silently circling, just waiting for the right moment for any slip-up from those above them on the ladder. See what NRL.com expert Jamie Soward has to say in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Cronulla Sharks (last week: 3)
The Sharks keep trending up. Not many teams win in Melbourne and back it up the next week. That was the danger for the Sharks but they handled a Cowboys team that has played better lately. They picked up some injuries on Saturday but I like the way they're playing. They all know their job and they're waiting for September. If you've been reading these Power Rankings the last couple of months you'd know I've constantly said the Sharks are a dark horse.
2. Sydney Roosters (1)
Looked a little tired and jaded against the Raiders. The Roosters have been up the top for a long time and had a big winning streak, and they've played in some big games the last couple of weeks. They defended okay on Sunday but their attack was a tad off. I'd say they'll bounce back with a much better performance this week.
3. Melbourne Storm (4)
Up a spot after overcoming a horror injury toll to get a good win over Parramatta. They were down to 13 men and had a bloke sent off and still managed to keep a dangerous Parra side to just one try. Will Chambers will be a loss but the Storm are trending nicely and I like where they're placed going into the finals.
4. South Sydney Rabbitohs (2)
A bit like the Roosters in that they look like a tired team at the moment. Damien Cook looks buggered and I'd probably give him a week off because they've got a kid called Billy Brittain who could come up. The last month the Rabbitohs have played some big games and it might've had an impact. They've still got important players to come back from injury and I expect Souths to rebound very quickly.
5. St George Illawarra Dragons (8)
A big bounce back - one we knew was coming but not this emphatically. An outstanding win on the road against a desperate team. There was a lot of chirping and people writing them off - myself included - but they went into a tough environment without key players and got a good win. The key now is backing it up. They need more out of Ben Hunt, and he knows it.
6. Brisbane Broncos (9)
This team could be as high as three or four one week and back down to 10 or 11 the next, but they were outstanding against South Sydney. Nearly surrendered an 18-0 lead but steadied the ship and ran away with it. There's still some big games for the Broncos and a home semi beckons if they're good enough.
7. Penrith Panthers (5)
This team is on tenterhooks looking at their form. Managed to win three games in the last month but finally paid the price against an experienced halfback who knew how to manage a game and wrestle back the momentum. They need an effort this week and have to worry about the process, not the result.
8. New Zealand Warriors (6)
What can you say about the Warriors? One week they get a fantastic win and then they come over to Australia where they've been pretty good this year and they continue to struggle against opponents they should beat. They really are a middle of the table team and their position on the table reflects that.
9. Wests Tigers (7)
Just did not fire a shot against the Dragons. It was a big game, a sold-out Leichhardt Oval and I had the Tigers winning comfortably in a finals-like arena. They looked nervous and unsure and made errors. Maybe playing for their finals lives over the last few weeks has caught up with them.
10. Canterbury Bulldogs (12)
Outstanding win and the question is how do they bottle that effort and team-work? The Dogs that we've seen score 30-plus points are great to watch, but the problem is they fall into lulls and it's mind-numbing when they do. It was a great win, and if Kieran Foran doesn't return they've found a star in Lachlan Lewis.
11. Newcastle Knights (14)
Great win on the road. I like the Mitchell Pearce/Kalyn Ponga partnership and it's a shame Nick Meaney's going because I'd like to see that combination stick. But a great performance against Penrith. They didn't wilt at the end and wait for the comeback. They stole the lead and kept it all afternoon.
12. Gold Coast Titans (15)
Got an almighty spray from Garth Brennan and responded in a big way. That spray was one of the best we've seen in recent times - Garth Brennan's head nearly came off - and they showed what they can do. AJ Brimson has been a great find and Ash Taylor included himself in the game.
13. Canberra Raiders (16)
They must have read last week's Power Rankings because they responded, and they actually did it through defence rather than attack. They kept turning up for each other defensively, and that must be frustrating for Ricky Stuart and his staff that they can have those performances.
14. North Queensland Cowboys (13)
Tried hard but couldn't compete for 80 minutes and it's been the story of the season. Played in a tough environment and got themselves in the game but fell away at the end with some of the bad habits which have cost them throughout the year. Face a big game this week in the hope of avoiding the wooden spoon.
15. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (10)
Just a diabolical effort - didn't come out of the sheds in the second half. When you have a 22-6 lead in the NRL you should go on with the job, but the off-field dramas have clearly taken a toll. The only bright light is the form of the Trbojevic brothers and Manly need to get both of them on 10-year deals ASAP.
16. Parramatta Eels (11)
A big drop from last week because the teams that were lower in the Power Rankings played so much better than Parra on the weekend. They had everything go their way and the Storm had people injured, but they didn't have the imagination or smarts in their attack that they had the previous week.