Soward: Cowboys, Panthers alive and kicking; Titans plummet

It's tricky to assess the Power Rankings when half the teams don't play.

The teams that didn't play basically stayed where they were, and the teams that did play were judged pretty harshly on what they offered.

Check out your team's place in this week's pecking order.

1. South Sydney Rabbitohs (Last week: 1)

They didn't have their best players but they just kept toiling away and absorbed a lot of pressure in the first half against a virtual full-strength Parramatta. I know they lost but I can't peg a team down for losing without their stars. The Origin period is unfair to those teams that have started the season so well.

2. Melbourne Storm (2)

A tough period for the Storm - as usual - during Origin and we'll have to wait and see what team turns up on Saturday in Auckland in terms of who plays, but I'm still invested in the Storm and they've been outstanding to start the year.

3. Newcastle Knights (3)

A huge game against South Sydney on Friday night at ANZ Stadium, a real litmus test against a heavyweight coming off Origin and we don't know yet if Wayne Bennett will rest anyone. The Knights have been outstanding with five straight wins, but after a week off can they pick up where they left off and keep rolling?

4. Sydney Roosters (4)

No game last weekend so they don't go up or down. The Roosters face Penrith this Sunday and I'm curious to see who runs out after Trent Robinson decides how to manage the Origin period. A fresh Cooper Cronk should be a big plus.

5. Cronulla Sharks (5)

Up against Parramatta this week and hopefully we'll see Wade Graham back and some of the other injured guys returning. They would've appreciated the bye last week and it'll be an interesting clash with the Eels. I'm still a big fan of the Sharks and they can be a serious threat with a full strength team come finals time.

6. Brisbane Broncos (6)

An important game against the Titans coming up and you'd expect them to bounce in a couple of days after Origin and get the job done. They don't have to travel and if they turn up with the right attitude they'll probably go out and win.

7. Canberra Raiders (8)

A great, gutsy effort against the Dogs without their Origin players. They rocked up to ANZ Stadium and Ricky Stuart would've known his side were underdogs and was probably expecting an ambush. But the Raiders worked hard and looked like they wanted it a bit more than the Dogs.

8. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (7)

Manly get a leave pass this week despite losing to Penrith. They tried really hard and didn't have their usual attack. They'll get a solid boost with Daly Cherry-Evans and Tom Trbojevic coming back in the next week or so. I still like the look of Manly. Overall they've been very impressive this year.

9. Wests Tigers (9)

This week against the Raiders is a bit of a season-defining game for the Tigers. If they can beat the Raiders and start on a bit of a roll through this Holden State of Origin period, they can put themselves somewhere in that eighth to 10th position come finals time.

10. Parramatta Eels (11)

Not a bad performance on the weekend. They beat a side that was missing several of their best players so I don't know how much they'll get out of that game. The intensity was lacking early on and I still need to see something more convincing and consistent from the Eels.

11. North Queensland Cowboys (10)

Another gritty win. Somehow they've give their season a heartbeat off the back of some tough albeit not pretty wins. That tackle right at the end of the game against the Titans certainly defined the effort they put in to get a very important result.

12. New Zealand Warriors (13)

I'm still in a holding pattern with the Warriors and what they offer from week to week. It'll be interesting to see where their heads are at through the Origin period. They don't have to worry about travel because they play the Storm at home on Saturday and you'd expect them to win.

13. St George Illawarra Dragons (15)

Up a couple of spots based on the poor performances of the Titans and Bulldogs. The Dragons have a massive game against the Dogs this week and they've always been a bogey team for the Dragons. It'll be interesting to see who backs up from Origin because this team has to start winning or their season's over.

14. Penrith Panthers (16)

Found a way to win through James Maloney - he just kept trying. It wasn't the prettiest win but it was a win they had to have if they're any chance of making the top eight. Another hard game to watch on the weekend but the Panthers did enough to get the chocolates.

15. Canterbury Bulldogs (12)

Very difficult to separate the Bulldogs from the Titans this week. They haven't changed their attack and it gets harder to watch them. That game against the Raiders was one they really needed to win to get away from the wooden spoon and they lacked energy and intensity and didn't take care of the ball. Both the Bulldogs and Titans were very disappointing.

16. Gold Coast Titans (14)

Pretty hard to watch this team. They always seem to beat themselves in those tight games. The Titans keep giving themselves opportunities but haven't been good enough to take them. Another poor effort at home to only score four points.

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.