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Soward: Parra, Sharks on shaky ground; Raiders coming home strong

The picture is becoming clearer: we have the two big dogs in Melbourne and Penrith and then Manly, South Sydney, Parramatta and the Roosters in the next wave.

It's an interesting race for spots seven and eight. If the form holds up, I think we gained some clarity over the weekend.

Again, for those who don't understand, it's important to note that Power Rankings aren't just about how much a team wins or loses by. It also accounts for injuries, style, defence. Keep in mind that winning a game 30-28 probably won't move the radar too much for me.

1. Melbourne Storm (Last week: 1)

By no means was it pretty. Will the win over the Cowboys be replayed among the great Storm games? No.

But the good teams eke out victories. Now the Storm move on and get the chance to make a statement against the Panthers.

2. Penrith Panthers (2)

Faced lots of adversity, but the worrying thing was that Penrith had 60-odd missed tackles - 20 of those by Origin players.

I felt we saw the aftereffects of Origin. It's hard trying to recreate that excitement and exhilaration of playing for your state in a full house and winning a series.

But they've got a bell-ringer of a match against Melbourne this week and that will show where the Panthers are at. If they miss 60 tackles again, they'll leak 50 points. 

Get Caught Up: Round 19 must-see moments

3. Manly Sea Eagles (3)

Scrappy. They probably knew they'd beat the Wests Tigers, but you can't be leaking 24 points. Des Hasler won't be happy - his teams are usually pretty stout defensively.

But Manly have firepower everywhere and I think they're the biggest threat to the top two. 

4. South Sydney Rabbitohs (5)

I didn't move the Rabbitohs last week because they only beat the Bulldogs, but I've now elevated them because I think they'll be in the final four for Power Rankings.

While South Sydney's attack is scintillating, I can't cop the number of points they're conceding.

That might be the new standard in the NRL, but Melbourne and Penrith aren't going to let the Rabbitohs get away with that. I feel like it's copy and paste with that comment every week.

5. Parramatta Eels (4)

A disappointing loss highlighted the importance of Mitchell Moses. The Eels need to be better. They didn't respect the opposition and went back to a pass-first mentality instead of running hard with their big forward pack.

Parramatta are under the pump with some tough games ahead. They play Souths in round 21 - if they lose then fourth spot is up for grabs.

Every try from Round 19

6. Sydney Roosters (6)

I wanted to put the Roosters higher but couldn't because I don't think they'd beat any of the teams above them. This organisation has been through so much with injuries and retirements and still find a way to get the job done.

It's hard to watch the Roosters at times knowing how good they'd be at full-strength, but it's also great to see the young guys find their way through adversity. James Tedesco has turned into the best captain in the competition.

7. Canberra Raiders (9)

This is the Raiders that I thought we'd see throughout the year. They seem to play better under adversity, but you don't want to put yourself in that situation.

Canberra have worked really hard to move into ninth spot and they look like making a run into the eight. They'll be a tough out if they make the finals. Saturday's clash with the Knights is a four-point swing and a win would all but knock their opponents out.

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8. Cronulla Sharks (7)

I've dropped the Sharks after a win because of Shaun Johnson's hamstring injury. Cronulla's style is likely to be more conservative without Johnson and they will probably drop back to the pack, opening up eighth spot.

However, I like Braydon Trindall, who I think could be the team's future No.7. He'll have to carry the workload now and hopefully, Matt Moylan comes back from a calf issue soon.

9. St George Illawarra Dragons (8)

If the Titans and Knights had been more consistent, I probably would have dropped the Dragons further. Suspensions and a disjointed team have played their part, but they can't hide from a disappointing performance.

For the past two weeks, St George Illawarra have been in the game until half-time and haven't fired a shot after that. They're now on the brink of wasting all their good work at the start of the year.

10. Gold Coast Titans (12)

Played the style they needed. The Titans mixed up where David Fifita received the ball and he took apart a soft Dragons defence. Rookie halfback Toby Sexton looks like he's got an old head on young shoulders.

Maybe the win will kickstart something for the Gold Coast, but it's still a holding pattern because we don't know what they'll produce next week. However, they should win against the Bulldogs.

Jacob Saifiti on the inside as a gaping hole appears

11. Newcastle Knights (10)

Newcastle have underachieved - you can put them in the same basket as the Warriors. Really poor against the injury-hit Roosters in a game they could and should have won.

There's no resilience or steeliness in the Knights' defence and they leaked soft tries. It's set to be another wasted season when they've got an elite talent like Kalyn Ponga.

12. Wests Tigers (13)

The Tigers are in a clump at the bottom. The last five teams could all beat each other on their day. The thing for me with the Tigers is they're so inconsistent and nothing has changed in a long time. 

They just can't put a strong month of footy together. Last week we were talking about a good victory over Brisbane and then it was almost like they thought they couldn't beat Manly, so they turned it around.

In footy and in life, be there for an offload

13. New Zealand Warriors (11)

One of the biggest underachievers of the year. To leak 60 points in a game is always embarrassing and they don't seem to have gotten any better from last year after pushing for the fringe of the top eight.

It's hard to watch the Warriors at the moment because you don't know what their style is. I get that they've called in players late and had injuries, but so have a lot of other clubs.

14. North Queensland Cowboys (14)

I don't know what to make of the Cowboys because they've been hot and cold. They had dropped dramatically over the last few weeks, couldn't win away from home and then had a chance to beat the Storm.

North Queensland fell short of claiming an upset because they just don't have any confidence at the moment. I feel like they're a couple of quality players away from being consistent. 

15. Brisbane Broncos (15)

I can see what the Broncos are trying to build, but I think it's a lot longer off than what they're aiming at. There'll be a lot of expectation on Adam Reynolds next year - they are aching for a No.7 who can control a game and at least kick them into field position and build some pressure.

Brisbane have some big, powerful forwards but really lack finesse, while their decision-making is terrible. Penrith did everything they could to hand the game to the Broncos by missing 60-odd tackles, but they just didn't have the patience to get it done.

16.  Canterbury Bulldogs (16)

Canterbury could have beaten the Sharks but they're still learning what it takes and probably don't have enough quality players.

There's such a big gap between their best and their worst performances, whereas the quality players don't vary as much. It was nice to see the Bulldogs score some points.

 

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