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The Eels, Roosters and Panthers are travelling beautifully and all three teams have claims for the top spot.

Brisbane are rising from the bottom but another Queensland team - the Cowboys - have sunk to the lowest point.

Meanwhile, Canberra's season appears in the balance after a huge blow and Manly are also in big trouble.

1. Parramatta Eels (Last week: 1)

Parramatta weren't at their best but came away with a gritty win in enemy territory. They're showing they can win with different styles – that's what the good teams do.

2. Sydney Roosters (2)

After a gruelling 85-minute loss last week and a tough travel schedule, the Roosters' second-half blitz against the Cowboys was unbelievable. For me, they're still the best team in the competition on their day.

3. Penrith Panthers (3)

I watched Penrith dismantle Cronulla first-hand at Kogarah and they were very impressive. Nathan Cleary is commanding the team and everyone knows their role. The young outside backs are exciting. They've announced themselves on the big stage.

4. Melbourne Storm (4)

No team is more professional. The Storm have just turned up and got it done in consecutive weeks against last year's grand finalists despite missing Cam Munster. Once again a genuine threat.

5. Newcastle Knights (5)

The Knights got themselves into an arm-wrestle with Parramatta but just lacked some attacking polish. Kalyn Ponga's getting bashed around, which is a concern for Adam O'Brien as it's taking the star fullback out of the game.

Get Caught Up: Round 9

6. South Sydney Rabbitohs (10)

Promising signs from South Sydney, who displayed plenty of physicality. They'll miss the suspended Latrell Mitchell and their depth's going to be tested with Liam Knight injured. You still get the feeling the Rabbitohs still haven't worked out how to play around Damien Cook with the new rules.

7. Manly Sea Eagles (6)

It's clear Manly are struggling without Tom Trbojevic and Dylan Walker. Their half chances aren't being turned into tries as they normally would with those two. On a downward slide.

8. Canberra Raiders (7)

Canberra's season can go two ways after losing Josh Hodgson: they can come together with steel and make it work or they can drop off. The Englishman's injury certainly puts a big dent in their hopes of making the grand final again.

9. Wests Tigers (9)

They're trying hard but keep putting themselves in bad positions. They concede soft tries which places their attack under pressure. Luke Brooks possibly needs a week off.

From Forbes, to Flegg, to four on debut

10. St George Illawarra Dragons (11)

The Dragons looked a lot more dangerous with Ben Hunt starting at hooker and Cameron McInnes at lock. The halves pairing of Corey Norman and Adam Clune remains a work in progress, but overall a much-improved performance.

11. Cronulla Sharks (8)

Probably the worst loss Cronulla have had in the recent years. They didn't turn up from the start and quickly conceded 26 points. There were hopeful signs as they briefly clawed back into the game but were ultimately blown away. Not in the top echelon.

12. Gold Coast Titans (15)

A scrappy win and Ash Taylor must deliver more. But Justin Holbrook would be pleased they hung tough after conceding two early tries. The skilful Tyrone Peachey needs more involvement.

Don does what Don does best

13. New Zealand Warriors (13)

Unlucky against the Titans; they tried hard and should have won after being 12-0 ahead. They'll rue that missed opportunity.

14. Brisbane Broncos (16)

They got some relief with an expected win but didn't move the radar too much. Brisbane still need to work on their game and back up next week, but hopefully, the players have gained confidence.

15. Canterbury Bulldogs (12)

Another team with glaring problems. They've been trying in games for a while but every so often they get blown away and that's what happened against the Broncos.

16. North Queensland Cowboys (14)

The decision to play an injured Valentine Holmes baffled me. To perform as they did in the second half before a home crowd shows there are big issues up north.

 

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