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Soward: Panthers concern; Rabbitohs in good stead

Two more teams have exited the premiership race as the excitement builds for the preliminary finals.

There's been no change to the order of the condensed rankings, but we learned a lot about the remaining competitors on the weekend.

1. Melbourne Storm (Last week: 1)

Yet another year where they've enjoyed a week off during the finals. The Storm will have their preparation on point leading into a clash with Penrith. They will ramp up their training before tapering off later in the week.

2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (2)

For the first time in four years, the Rabbitohs have benefitted from having a week off in the finals and freshening up. They would have already trained after learning they'll be facing the Sea Eagles.

Souths have one of the game's most electrifying players in Cody Walker and I'm learning towards them to make the grand final.

3. Manly Sea Eagles (3)

If they were on the other side of the draw, I'd swap them and Penrith in the rankings. But it's such a tight match-up against Souths.

It's almost the perfect storm for Manly. Last week's loss to Melbourne was one they needed and now there's talk about the pressure on the Rabbitohs after losing the last three prelims.

The ultimate prize is in sight, but I don't think the Sea Eagles will produce enough to progress to the grand final.

4. Penrith Panthers (4)

Still really worried about Penrith. I haven't seen them play this tight or stressed in attack for a long time.

They look really confused about where they want to be on the field and have been giving the other team opportunities to beat them.

Get Caught Up: Finals Week 2 must-see moments

5. Parramatta Eels (5)

An opportunity missed. If Parramatta had played as they did on Saturday night two months ago and realised their capabilities, they probably would have won the game.

Penrith were there to be taken, but the Eels just don't know how to adjust things on the run to get a result. The good teams do that.

6. Sydney Roosters (6)

Just ran out of troops after a gutsy season. Their young guys have gained invaluable experience and will be prepared for next year.


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

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