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Soward: Storm supreme; Rabbitohs earn apology

It was an exciting start to the finals - probably more than I expected with some really high-quality games.

Finals are won by whoever turns up on the day and I think that was no more evident than what we saw across the weekend.

1. Melbourne Storm (Last week: 2)

The first week of the finals showed that you're the champs until you're the champs no more. I had started to waver on Melbourne a little bit because of what I saw from Penrith before the finals.

But the Storm reaffirmed their standing as the best team in the competition - which is what they have been all year.

2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (4)

I apologise to South Sydney fans and the team. It wasn't what I expected. The Rabbitohs were desperate - they wanted it more and they executed better than the Panthers.

I really underestimated the fact they could cause an upset. Now they're in the box seat and have made their fourth prelim in four years. That will be brought up and talked about.

I still think they'll need to go to another level to win the competition, but they can make the grand final.

3. Manly Sea Eagles (3)

Not so concerned about Manly after losing to Melbourne; I think this side of the draw probably suits them to make the grand final.

They weren't great, but I think it might've been the loss they needed to have to bring them down to earth. Experience is key at the end of the year and some of their young guys learned some hard lessons.

Get Caught Up: Finals Week 1 must-see moments

4. Penrith Panthers (1)

I think this is the lowest I've had Penrith in the past two years. Really disappointed with what they showed. They looked distressed in attack.

Defensively OK, but they didn't have any answers for a desperate, scrambling South Sydney.

Maybe some of their players were looking ahead and thinking it was a formality that they would play Melbourne in the grand final. Now, they're up against it.

5. Parramatta Eels (6)

Didn't move the needle too much, but I'm a bit cautious of fully writing them off against Penrith. Parramatta's style might even suit this weekend in the Western Sydney derby.

6. Sydney Roosters (5)

Just scraped home. The petrol tank was on empty and the Roosters were pretty much getting ready to enjoy their end-of-season trip. Then all of a sudden they hung on. It's another step up in class this week.

Every try from finals week one

7.Gold Coast Titans (8)

Missed an opportunity. If the Titans had developed more consistency throughout the year, they probably would've beaten the Roosters. Their season was like that last play - it showed so much promise but just didn't deliver.

8. Newcastle Knights (7)

Bit flat. Kalyn Ponga was fantastic, but Newcastle will look back and realise they probably didn't perform to their ability.

I don't know if all the rumours about Mitchell Pearce's future took their toll, but the Knights weren't at their best. It wasn't the team I thought I'd see.


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

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