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The NRL can be split into tiers after five rounds: the "power three", the middle and the bottom.

Some performances on the weekend were reflective of this difference in class. Depth is very important if you want to win a competition, so the sides who have injuries in key positions might struggle for a little while - and that could see more scorelines blow out.

1. Penrith Panthers (Last week: 1)

The Panthers have spent a long, long time at number one over the past two seasons. Just professional against the Raiders. They got punched in the face early, and some teams cower after that, but Penrith took the challenge head-on to score points and build pressure.

If the grand final was played tomorrow, I think they'd start overwhelming favourites. They're going through the competition with ease at the moment.

2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (2)

Rolled through the Broncos. The first half is always hard when you're expected to win and maybe South Sydney thought it would come a bit easier than it did. But the sign of a good team is being able to re-narrow the focus. Latrell Mitchell was fantastic in everything. A really good team.

3. Melbourne Storm (3)

I don't think Craig Bellamy would be very happy with the Storm's defence, but to score 50 points and with the way Ryan Papenhuyzen is playing, maybe sometimes they tried too hard or weren't fully switched on. Some big games are coming up - the Roosters on Friday at AAMI Park and the Warriors on Anzac Day - so we'll see where they're fully at.

4. Sydney Roosters (6)

For an hour against the Sharks, I was concerned with what I saw and thought that maybe the Roosters weren't quite there with the top teams. But Sam Walker was dynamite. I made a statement a couple of weeks ago that he'll be better than Joseph Suaalii, and he showed his talent with clutch plays in the biggest moments. The Roosters need to do a lot of work on their last-play options as well as trying to get Joey Manu into the game.

5. Parramatta Eels (4)

Brad Arthur would be disappointed at his team's lack of discipline and patience. They tried to force offloads and came up with errors. The Eels played like that in round one against Brisbane, who weren't good enough to punish them, but on Sunday they were physically dominated. Junior Paulo is the boss of their pack and only made 78 metres – a season-low for him.

6. St George Illawarra Dragons (7)

A great win against Parramatta in a tough environment. St George Illawarra are playing for each other and enjoying it. I don't know what's happening inside the sheds because I'm not there enough, but I think a few egos were crushed after the Charity Shield flogging by the Rabbitohs. Critics backed them to come last and it looks like the Dragons took that personally and challenged themselves to be better.

Get Caught Up: Round 5 must-see moments

7. Canberra Raiders (5)

I was harsh on the Raiders, only because I saw some worrying signs in their past two games against the Panthers and Titans. Perhaps they're unsure of what their attack should look like in the opposition's 20-metre zone. Canberra are having trouble building pressure and points. I might have ranked them a bit high at the start of the year.

8. Gold Coast Titans (10)

AKA David Fifita's team. He produced one of the best forward performances I've ever seen. If the Titans know when to use Fifita, get his work rate up a bit in the back-end of the field and don't just make it "David-ball" by overplaying to him, they're going to be hard to beat.

9. Cronulla Sharks (8)

For 60 minutes Cronulla were really, really good. I was watching them thinking, "Oh my goodness, I think I've misread them and should have had them higher in the Power Rankings". Then they failed to manage the game or stop any tries in the last 20 minutes. The Sharks turned into the team I thought they were last year in terms of not being able to beat a top-eight team. It's more than a coincidence that Cronulla have had close losses to Canberra and now the Roosters this year.

10. New Zealand Warriors (9)

Lost a game they should have won. The absence of the injured Addin Fonua-Blake was some sort of excuse, but the Warriors threw it away against the Sea Eagles. Their game management towards the end in setting up for a field goal was poor. They need to bounce back quickly and I'm sure Nathan Brown will have them fired up next week.

11. Newcastle Knights (11)

I'm worried. Adam O'Brien had some really good players last year, but they've struggled to back up what they did in 2020. I know injuries are playing a huge part, but the will to compete on every play is not there.

David Fifita scoring a try only he could

12. Manly Sea Eagles (14)

Grouped them in with the bottom four teams. It's not going to be pretty for the rest of the year, but Manly found a way to beat the Warriors with Daly Cherry-Evans coming up clutch. It wasn't a game that will be replayed but sometimes that's how it goes when you're trying to get off the mark.

13. North Queensland Cowboys (15)

Played with the style we thought they would to start the season, using their speed men and chancing their arm a little bit. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow was fantastic. North Queensland have given themselves a blueprint. But are they going to make the top eight or compete with the elite teams? No.

14. Wests Tigers (12)

Tough watch against the Cowboys. Following a great comeback last week in a game they should have won, the Tigers had everything to play for at home as they paid tribute to Tommy Raudonikis. But they just didn't come out of the sheds against a team that has struggled. Unfortunately, there seem to be some deeper issues.

Every try from Round 5

15. Brisbane Broncos (13)

In danger of getting the wooden spoon again. I just can't work out Brisbane's style, I definitely can't see the benefit of having two halfbacks in their 17. They needed to sort that out a week or two ago. It's embarrassing that the Broncos can't pick a No.7 to control the side and there have been three different voices out there.

I personally think Tom Dearden is the answer, but they need to settle on a halfback they believe in.

16. Canterbury Bulldogs (16)

Got on the scoreboard for the first time since round one and while everyone will see that as a bit of a giggle it was important. Canterbury probably learnt a lot more about themselves against the Storm than they had in the previous couple of weeks. I saw some improvement from the Bulldogs but they're not NRL standard at the moment.


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

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