1. St. George Illawarra Dragons
Last week: 1st
Even with a loss on the weekend, the St. George Illawarra Dragons are still at least a win ahead of the pack, and are clearly the best team in the League.
At this point, the only way they can lose this spot is if State of Origin chews up their roster, or, maybe a classic Dragons second-half collapse.
2. Melbourne Storm
Last week: 2nd
It will be interesting to see how the Melbourne Storm travel next week with a few outs; Josh Addo-Carr and Cameron Munster both escaped suspension, but Sam Kasiano will miss one week, as will Cameron Smith.
Perhaps bigger than those outs is an in: Brodie Croft. The 20-year-old prospect was sent down to find form in the minors, but if Ryley Jacks cannot make next week’s game, Croft will be handed the keys without Smith to lean out. This might be bad.
3. Penrith Panthers
Last week: 4th
As Cosmo Kramer would say, the Penrith Panthers had no problems “tcb” in their game at the Newcastle Knights on the weekend, with James Maloney looking like the premiership-winning half he’s proven to be.
Let the rest of the League be on notice when Nathan Cleary returns.
4. South Sydney Rabbitohs
Last week: 6th
South Sydney passed their first major test of this season in beating the League-leading Dragons, which breaks a string of losses against better teams earlier in the season, including the aforementioned Dragons, as well as the Warriors and Panthers.
The jump scare here is that the Rabbitohs’ offense arguably the best in the NRL, yet you still feel there’s some improvement to come; Adam Reynolds, in particular, is not quite at his level of a few seasons ago, yet leads the League in kick metres.
5. Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks
Last week: 5th
Speaking of finally clicking, the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks won the fourth in a row on the weekend, and the Chad Townsend-Matt Moylan pairing still has a long way to come.
Encouraging still is that they’ve shaken the tag of being unable to perform without their Captain Paul Gallen – not too many would’ve noticed he wasn’t out there against the Canberra Raiders.
6. Wests Tigers
Last week: 7th
It looks like the Wests Tigers are settling into this group’s true form – you can’t possibly be near the very top of the NRL with Corey Thompson as your fullback and a mystery box at hooker.
Wests are playing the long game, and this is a good team with an excellent Head Coach that still has plenty of holes to fill. Once they manage to fill them, they’ll have the class to win those close games they dropped to Newcastle and Parramatta.
7. Sydney Roosters
Last week: 9th
Let’s not lose our heads here, the Warriors were without both Shaun Johnson and Issac Luke, and the Sydney Roosters are still a weekly question mark.
Captain Jake Friend may have sent back a soft line drive in regards to criticism from the fans midweek, but his team will need to do more than win the occasional game to dispel animosity.
8. New Zealand Warriors
Last week: 3rd
The Warriors will be battling through a tough period over the next few weeks without the aforementioned Johnson and Luke, which will require their forward pack to truly step up their on-field leadership.
Stephen Kearney’s offense has only been held to 10 points or less twice this season, and their aggregate from those games is 10-82.
9. Brisbane Broncos
Last week: 8th
The Brisbane Broncos were all set for a bit of tumble this week until they were caught by a bunch of teams under them losing also.
Take this game for what is it, though – a loss at home to the worst team in the League. This is not how Wayne Bennett teams are meant to look.
10. Canberra Raiders
Last week: 10th
Canberra really are unlucky; they lost superstar Josh Hodgson during the World Cup with an acl injury, and another member of the spine fell last weekend when Blake Austin limped off with an ankle injury.
Interestingly, for as poorly as this team has worked out, they are apparently on the cusp of re-signing relatively disappointing stars Josh Papalii and Aidan Sezer. With the tea leaves pointing one direction only, there seems to be no thought of a rebuild.
11. Newcastle Knights
Last week: 11th
One wonders at the lack of experience shown by Newcastle without superstar halfback Mitchell Pearce on the field.
Experienced signings such as Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Aidan Guerra and Chris Heighington were brought in to combat periods such as this when a key player is out with injury; instead, they’ve now lost two home games in a row.
12. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Last week: 16th
A big jump this week for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, who beat a poor Broncos team at home, but hey, a win at Suncorp Stadium is a win at Suncorp Stadium.
The W has earned them what is basically a free hit this week against their rivals Melbourne, as they have little to lose against the reigning NRL premiers.
13. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Last week: 14th
The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs’ win over the Parramatta Eels last week was muted not only by a controversial call in the lead up to the game-winning play, but also by reports fullback Moses Mbye might be on his way out.
Despite enjoying time in the number 1 jersey, the Bulldogs may not have the cap space to hold onto their playmaker; should this really be a problem with a team in the bottom four of the standings?
14. North Queensland Cowboys
Last week: 12th
Once again, the North Queensland Cowboys were close, but not good enough, falling to the Tigers in their second of a two-game Sydney swing 20-12.
One wonders if future Immortal Johnathan Thurston should concede defeat and announce the inevitable, as he is highly entitled to enjoy a victory lap for his last months in the show.
15. Parramatta Eels
Last week: 13th
Close but not good enough is what the Eels are all about, and their typically unforgiving fans will be fuming with a questionable loss to the ‘Dogs last Friday night.
It gets better, as forward Kenny Edwards could be released as he faces court for driving while suspended last month, potentially ending his time in the League altogether.
16. Gold Coast Titans
Last week: 15th
We have a new bottom team in the standings!
Despite all the superlatives Head Coach Garth Brennan was meant to bring to the team, the club that is a perennial on and off-field mess is once again…an on and off-field mess, raising the question…can a leopard ever change its spots?
Do you agree with our Round 10 NRL Power Rankings? Let us know in the comments below.