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The top three teams have separated themselves from the pack and the bottom sides have underlined why they're towards the foot of the ladder after 17 rounds.

Then there are the Sharks, a team that appears set for finals football but has a mountain of work to do before that day arrives.

Here's how the Power Rankings stand:

1. Penrith Panthers (Last week: 1)

Penrith's next real challenge is week one of the finals. They've got a big game this week against Parramatta, the only team to have beaten them. I think the Panthers will relish the opportunity to come up against an opponent that makes them go flat-chat for 80 minutes.

2. Melbourne Storm (2)

The Storm are in third gear. They did it pretty comfortably against South Sydney in terms of being in the contest. The Rabbitohs threw everything at them and even took the lead but Melbourne showed their class. The scary thing is Cameron Munster has been relatively quiet in recent weeks but has still done a great job.

3. Sydney Roosters (4)

The Roosters had a few guys returning and defended their butts off and executed at the death. That's what champion teams do. There's no reason they can't be there in late October.

4. Canberra Raiders (3)

Off the pace. Canberra tried really hard and defended well in a physical, high-quality game with the Roosters. But they just haven't got their attacking balance right. The Raiders will compete but where do their points come from against the elite teams? 

Every try from round 17

5. Parramatta Eels (5)

Not convincing. If they had put the game to bed after leading 16-0 against the Warriors then they might have moved the needle. Still competing but they're not with the top teams.

6. South Sydney Rabbitohs (6)

Surprised me a bit without Latrell Mitchell. The Rabbitohs played the way they're supposed to but beat themselves in the second half by dropping the ball. That's the South Sydney we've seen too often and it's why I think they're a year away from being contenders.

7. Newcastle Knights (9)

I thought the Knights would bounce back in a big way and they exceeded my expectations. Will they turn up against the Roosters? We'll wait and see, but they did what they were supposed to do.

8. New Zealand Warriors (8)

I couldn't move the Warriors down based on their willingness to fight back against the Eels. They played some really exciting footy when they were trailing 16-0 to almost force the game to golden-point. The off-season challenge is living up to the base they've created.

Get Caught Up: Round 17

9. Gold Coast Titans (11)

Justin Holbrook is potentially putting his hand up for Coach of the Year honours with what he's getting out of the Titans. I don't think they would've held on against the Bulldogs last year or even two months ago. I'm really excited for the Gold Coast next season.

10. Wests Tigers (12)

Wasted season. The Tigers are going to miss the eight and it looks like they'll finish ninth. They play some good footy when they throw the ball around and can trouble teams, but they don't do it consistently. To play in the finals you need to do it week-to-week.

11. Cronulla Sharks (7)

The most disappointing team of the round. A huge game for the Sharks against Newcastle, having not beaten a finals-bound side, and they didn't turn up. I'm not convinced the top eight is really that strong when Cronulla are four points clear of ninth. If they lose to the Warriors this weekend they're on tilt.

Chanel Harris-Tavita's double against the Eels in all its glory

12. St George Illawarra Dragons (10)

Concentration and execution is lacking. They had enough opportunities to put the Cowboys away on Sunday. The Dragons continue to invite sides to beat them and that's what's happening.

13. Manly Sea Eagles (13)

Another season where three of the competition's top 20 players - Daly Cherry Evans and the Trbojevic brothers - won't feature in the finals. It's concerning for Manly and I've already written about the importance of their off-season recruitment.

14. North Queensland Cowboys (15)

Not pretty by any means, but needed to break a nine-match losing streak. North Queensland scrapped to get home against the Dragons but there's not much more I can say.

15. Canterbury Bulldogs (14)

There are some players that incoming coach Trent Barrett will want to get more from next year otherwise he might have to move them on. Canterbury continuously find ways to lose and sometimes that's to do with concentration rather than effort.

16. Brisbane Broncos (16)

Tried really hard. There were signs that they've hit rock bottom and this is part of the rebuild. I saw some good stuff but also some poor stuff which is why they can't win a game.

 

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