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Soward: Panthers prowling; Broncos fading fast

Marvellous Melbourne are in the box seat for the minor premiership, the Panthers are on a hot streak and the Broncos are fading fast. Check out where your team sits in this week's Power Rankings.

1. Melbourne Storm (last week: 1)

Business as usual for the Storm. That tough win over the Roosters showed they can scrap their way to another big day in October. No question, they are the best team in the competition at the moment and the scary part for the other teams is that they aren't even playing at their best.

2. Newcastle Knights (3)

No-one's saying they're better without Ponga, but the Knights showed again that they have the confidence and belief in each other to play well without their superstar. They're really building nicely off the back of the experience in the team. Dave Klemmer was outstanding in his return from injury.

3. Canberra Raiders (2)

Started so well against Parra and were in control of the game, but then they just let it go and never regained any momentum. The Raiders need to sort out if they want to be in the race or not. There was shades of years past in that performance, that's something they've worked so hard to shrug off.

Get Caught Up: Round 15

4. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (5)

Manly went to the Gold Coast in what was a potential banana peel game and they were good in building a match-winning lead. They dropped off a little and Des wouldn't have been happy that they let in some tries in the second half, but the result never really looked in doubt. Having said that, I want to see them in a big game before I'm all in.

5. Sydney Roosters (6)

Losing to the Storm in Adelaide would've stung but there was very little between the two teams and the Roosters will take plenty of positives away. I saw enough of them in that game to know that they're still up there with the Storm. They also have a number of players to come back in important positions.

6. Cronulla Sharks (4)

Maybe the Dogs were simply just due for a win, but the Sharks were clearly not at their best. It's a loss that could hurt them in the long run because it undid all the good work they did at the start of the year without their senior guys. The Sharks virtually never have two bad games in a row and I expect a bounce back against Brisbane this week.

Match Highlights: Bulldogs v Sharks

7. South Sydney Rabbitohs (7)

Losing four in a row is never a good look but I still don't see any major cause for concern with the Rabbitohs. They've already shown how good they are with their full team and they just have to tread water until they get everybody fit and healthy and back on the field. Braidon Burns looked sharp in his return from injury.

8. Penrith Panthers (9)

The Panthers were in trouble earlier in the season but here they come. What a gritty win over the Warriors. That was a game they probably would've lost two months ago, but they've really turned the corner in the way they're digging in and grinding out wins. Jimmy Maloney was great in crunch time and has them coming home with a wet sail.

Match Highlights: Warriors v Panthers

9. Parramatta Eels (10)

Whatever Brad Arthur put in the Gatorade, he needs to bottle that and make sure Mitch Moses and co turn up like that week to week. They got themselves in a pretty big hole down 16-0 but kept coming hard at the Raiders and once they got control they kept it. Maintaining consistency on a weekly basis is the challenge for the Eels.

10. Wests Tigers (12)

There was nothing pretty about their win over Souths but they certainly deserved it. The Tigers still have issues in attack that Michael Maguire has to keep working on, but the old boys have turned back the clock and they're leading the way. They're playing with plenty of spirit and and look hungry to play finals football.

Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Rabbitohs

11. North Queensland Cowboys (8)

Got the good start they needed against the Dragons in Wollongong but failed to go on with the job and lost some direction when they lost Michael Morgan. On the positive side, the Cowboys have picked up a gem in Scott Drinkwater. Maybe not this year but the future is looking good.

12. St George Illawarra Dragons (14)

They got the win they so desperately needed but it wasn't pretty or overly convincing. The Dragons have put themselves in a very tough spot because they usually have a buffer through the Origin period and then tend to fall away in the run to the finals, but this year they have to continue to win if they're going to make it.

13. New Zealand Warriors (13)

It's like a broken record with the Warriors. They continue to disappoint the fans in New Zealand, winning gritty on the road and then failing to take it back home. They put themselves in a very winnable position against Penrith but weren't able to hammer the final nail in the coffin and Jimmy Maloney made them pay for it.

Soward’s Power Rankings explained

14. Brisbane Broncos (12)

There's been some disappointing teams in 2019 but the Broncos pretty much take first prize. They just don't look like a happy group and it's probably not surprising with all the movement on the playing roster. Anthony Seibold's decision to make changes this late in the season wasn't a good look and hasn't been well received by the players.

15. Canterbury Bulldogs (16)

Finally a ray of sunshine for the Bulldogs after a tough run of losses. Good to see them scrapping away for a win against one of the competition's better sides. They can only look to the future and see what they have in their stocks. Brandon Wakeham looks the goods.

16. Gold Coast Titans (15)

Yet another disappointing performance by a team that has struggled all year to put 80-minute efforts together. They looked out of their depth for the most part against Manly and unfortunately it wasn't a happy 150th game for Tyrone Roberts. The coach summed it up best - men versus boys - and if that doesn't shake you up you shouldn't be playing.


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

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