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Soward: Happy 400th Cam Smith; Roosters to start rolling

After another Origin-affected week, some teams made their move and others disappointed. Check out who's hot and who's not in this week's Power Rankings.

1. Melbourne Storm (Last week: 1)

It's going to be a huge occasion this weekend for Cameron Smith's 400th game and I can't wait to sit down and call that game and just absorb what will be a very special moment for Cameron Smith and for rugby league. The Storm haven't played their best week to week but they're getting the job done and they're so far ahead that it's hard to not to see a repeat of last year's grand final.

2. Sydney Roosters (5)

I still think it's going to be a Roosters-Melbourne grand final. The Roosters just seem to have another four or five gears that they can go to. Their win against the Tigers wasn't convincing by any means, but they've got Jake Friend, Boyd Cordner, James Tedesco coming back in. Luke Keary was fantastic in his first game back and I can't go past the Roosters to win the comp.

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3. Canberra Raiders (3)

The Raiders have shown enough this season to convince me they're top-four material and they'll look forward to getting everybody back from Origin duty. They've got two very winnable games in the next two weeks against the Dragons and Tigers and I'm interested to see how they bounce back from the loss to the Eels in Darwin.

4. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (4)

Manly take first prize in terms of being the biggest surprise packet of 2019. They're really hard-working and play with a sense of purpose and belief in the process. Whether they make any impression in the playoffs we'll have to wait and see, but they've been really good this year.

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5. Newcastle Knights (2)

I saw enough in that close loss to a full-strength Warriors to still believe they have the desire and passion to be a top-four side. It's going to be tough but you bring all their Origin guys back in and they're right in this competition. The Knights look like a team that really wants to plays finals footy.

6. South Sydney Rabbitohs (7)

I've got a feeling that we're about to really start seeing the best of the Rabbitohs and they'll put the foot down after a mixed Origin bag. Look for Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds to start pulling the strings again. They're getting Sam Burgess and some other guys back and South Sydney will start showing they're a force again.

7. Penrith Panthers (8)

I think the Panthers are going to scrape into the top eight. They've got three really winnable games at home after being on the road a bit. They've rediscovered that will to win and if James Maloney bounces out of an Origin series victory the Panthers can go on a really hot run.

Soward’s Power Rankings explained

8. Cronulla Sharks (6)

I'm still on the Sharks, especially when Wade Graham returns from Origin. But goal kicking has become a huge issue and I don't know how they can try and get Kyle Flanagan in there and they've also got Shaun Johnson. Maybe Matt Moylan can have a kick, but they certainly need to fix it if they want to go deep into the post-season.

9. Parramatta Eels (9)

Some winnable games in the next month or so for the Eels and if they come out and start fast and get on top early in those games they may be able to find themselves cemented in the eight. But if they dish up the same kind of inconsistency we've seen most of the year they'll miss the finals again. 

10. Wests Tigers (10)

The Tigers had a winnable game against the Roosters and probably should've gone on with it, but there was a couple of mistakes and some half-opportunities they didn't take. This week their season is on the line and if they can beat Parra at Bankwest it'll give them some momentum and they might be able to scrape into the eight, but I've still got them just missing out.

Match Highlights: Wests Tigers v Roosters

11. North Queensland Cowboys (11)

A tough couple of weeks coming up out of Origin and it should tell us what we can probably expect from them for the rest of the season. They need a minor miracle to go on a run to make the top eight which I don't see happening. They'll be looking to next year and trying to recruit some outside backs to boost their depth.

12. New Zealand Warriors (13)

The roller-coaster ride continues. It was a very winnable game against the Knights and they somehow made it look hard. They continue to have one good half and one bad half in terms of attack. The thing with the Warriors is that they're somehow still giving themselves a chance to make the eight, but I don't know how.

13. Brisbane Broncos (14)

A great, gutsy win against Cronulla. I wonder where Anthony Seibold goes next in regards to what he saw on Sunday and how to bottle that for the rest of the season to try and make some impression on the top eight. They've got some very winnable games ahead but they've probably dug themselves too big a hole.

Match Highlights: Sharks v Broncos

14. St George Illawarra Dragons (12)

It looks like their season's gone. They've got games coming up against the Raiders, Panthers and Rabbitohs and they pretty much have to go 4-1 in their next five games to have any chance, but I don't see that happening. They missed a good chance against Melbourne last week.

15. Canterbury Bulldogs (15)

Every week you're not sure which Bulldogs will turn up and that's been their biggest problem being a young and mostly inexperienced side. The Dogs have struggled to find that consistency you need in the NRL and they're in a two-way battle with the Titans for the spoon.

16. Gold Coast Titans (16)

It's hard to see how they finish off the season and whether they escape the wooden spoon or not. Ash Taylor coming back will hopefully help them but in terms of what they've shown this year I certainly don't hold any real expectations.


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

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