Soward's Power Rankings: Sharks still No.1
The Rabbitohs and Roosters are slipping, Melbourne barely got out of jail, while the Sharks look very capable of emulating their 2016 premiership glory. Check out NRL.com expert Jamie Soward's thoughts in this week's Power Rankings.
1. Cronulla Sharks (1)
Val Holmes is in great form and the Sharks won't have to travel too far, and they showed recently they had no fear of going to Melbourne. This team has been trending and you would know that if you have followed the Power Rankings. People stop me and tell me I'm reaching but the Sharks have been trending all the way through. They are very experienced and have good players in key positions, and they have been there before. They are waiting for their time to come and would see this as a genuine premiership tilt.
2. Melbourne Storm (3)
Gee I love Cameron Munster, just an out and out footballer. No disrespect to Billy Slater because his experience and organisational skills are still very valuable, but Munster has become more vital to their team than Slater. It's the [Cam] Smith and Munster show and Munster is the go-to man. Who's to say with that big three firing, they aren't going to go back to back?
3. Sydney Roosters (2)
Very disappointing against Brisbane and failed to fire any shots. They'll be better for the run with Luke Keary back but there's not much more to say about the Roosters. The less said the better on that performance and that's how coach Trent Robinson would view that game.
4. Brisbane Broncos (6)
So impressive in so many ways against the Roosters. If Wayne Bennett can bottle that performance they're a real potential smokey. Kept turning up for each other and forced the Roosters into mistakes and needless passes. The trick now is to back it up against Manly and they could end up hosting a final.
5. South Sydney Rabbitohs (4)
Look really tired. Their Origin hangover was delayed. Got Greg Inglis and a couple of guys back and they'll be better for the run. I don't expect them to be bounced out in straight sets. I think they'll get to week three but they've missed a chance to give Damien Cook a rest and have him firing in the finals.
6. New Zealand Warriors (8)
A very good performance against the Panthers and if they can find that consistency they can certainly get into week two, although I still say it is out of four teams. They'll be tough for any team in the finals and I really like the way they competed on the weekend.
7. St George Illawarra Dragons (5)
I could have had them lower after that performance on the weekend. They're on a tilt at the moment. I thought they would bounce back, but I got that completely wrong. They might've rocked up with the mentality that it was just going to happen because of their good win the previous week. Now they face a knock-out semifinal.
8. Penrith Panthers (7)
I'm worried about the Panthers. They just look like it's caught up with them, and with no James Maloney they look a little lost for ideas at stages. Now they've picked up a few more injuries. You need luck to win this competition and they've had guys in and out all year and it's caught up with them.
9. Canterbury Bulldogs (10)
An outstanding performance and the highest they've been in the Power Rankings. They have found some diamonds in the rough and need a full pre-season together with no injuries. If they're not going to be silky in attack, they have to compete defensively, and they did that really well on the weekend.
10. Canberra Raiders (13)
The biggest underachievers over the last couple of years - by far. They can score points but find a way to lose, and that makes for compelling TV. The Raiders need to bottle those performances of the past two weeks and go into pre-season knowing you only got so many cracks to do something special in the NRL.
11. Wests Tigers (9)
Have gone down in the Power Rankings despite winning because the teams above them played better. It's basically been a year of missed opportunities for the Tigers, some of those games looking back they should have won. They've beaten some good teams but lost to teams they should have beaten.
12. North Queensland Cowboys (14)
This was the team we all thought we'd see at the start of the year and I'm glad we got to see it one final time for Johnathan Thurston's farewell home game. It's been a year to forget if you're a Cowboys fan and it's disappointing we won't get to see JT in the finals, but it was a special performance.
13. Gold Coast Titans (12)
Tried really hard against Melbourne and had a chance just before half-time to get some more points. Probably a lack of quality in their finishing has really cost them in certain games, but they need to look at that performance and build off that.
14. Newcastle Knights (11)
They are at the end. This team has been up and down in the Power Rankings and have been plagued by inconsistency. They're struggling with their depth towards the back end and no [Kalyn] Ponga means no points in terms of helping out Mitchell Pearce.
15. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (15)
A nice fightback last Thursday, but off field dramas have taken their toll. The teams down the bottom of the ladder seem to be going through some stuff and don't know how to get out of it.
16. Parramatta Eels (16)
On a hiding to nothing going to Townsville for such a big occasion for Johnathan Thurston. They really took a backward step and it looks like they are just waiting for the season to end. A disappointing performance to say the least.