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Soward: Eels move into top-tier; Roosters slide

I've had to be a bit ruthless in this week's Power Rankings with injuries piling up across round three.

After losing halves Luke Keary (ACL) and Lachlan Lam (MCL), the Roosters have tumbled out of the upper echelon of teams.

There were some disappointing performances from a few good teams which have been reflected in the rankings.

1. Penrith Panthers (Last week: 1)

Even without Nathan Cleary, Penrith continued to find a way to win and hang in there when below their best. They didn't deserve to win at stages against the Storm but got the points. That's what has made this team so good for the past 16 months.

2. South Sydney Rabbitohs (4)

Wow. They needed to start the season fast so they could go about their business - and they came out and made a statement. I don't think Wayne Bennett would be happy with the 16 points conceded to the Roosters after they dominated for most of the game. 

3. Melbourne Storm (2)

Lost two in a row and had a chance to win at the death against Penrith. They're still a very, very good side. I'm concerned that Melbourne are conceding tries on their right edge and they're also lacking some patience, but they're expected to beat the Broncos in round four.

Every try from round 3

4. Parramatta Eels (6)

Big movers - not necessarily on the merit of their win over the Sharks, but because teams around them have serious injuries. An Easter Monday clash with the Wests Tigers, who have played themselves into form, will be a test. The Eels tried to finesse their way around and pretty it up on the weekend instead of running hard and straight. They haven't realised how good they can be.

5. Canberra Raiders (5)

A gutsy performance despite a loss. I couldn't move Canberra because of their injuries and the unknowns going forward. But when you lead 25-6, regardless of the circumstances, you need to win those games. They found a way to lose, but the Raiders haven't lost any supporters.

6. Sydney Roosters (3)

This is about as low as I've ever ranked the Roosters. They're a wait-and-see prospect now after their injuries. Do they move James Tedesco or Joey Manu into five-eighth, and how would that change their outside backs? I'd bite the bullet and play Sam Walker at halfback. I won't say the Roosters are done, but it's hard losing both your starting halves in one week.

7. Gold Coast Titans (8)

A strong win over the Cowboys - that's the Titans. Now comes a big test at home against the Raiders, a powerhouse of the competition. The house will be rocking. I want to see what the Gold Coast look like week-to-week. There are some teams that are impressive one game and bad the next, so I'm hesitant to dramatically move sides that are still learning to be good.

Re-live the final moments of Raiders-Warriors thriller

8. New Zealand Warriors (9)

Could've had them higher, but I don't think they're better than the seven teams above them. What an effort to beat the Raiders. They had some calls go against them, but Roger Tuivasa-Sheck was outstanding. Like the Titans, their challenge is consistently performing.

9. Newcastle Knights (7)

Newcastle had everything to play for in Mitchell Pearce's 300th game in front of a big crowd at home against a desperate Tigers side. They didn't show respect for the ball. Making 18 errors isn't good enough to win NRL games. 

10. St George Illawarra Dragons (11)

Good win at home. Did what they were supposed to do. They had a tough trip to Townsville last week and backed up again with the right attitude. I thought the Dragons were fantastic, but now their draw gets harder - starting with the Knights away from home. We'll see where they're at.

How good is Magic Round

11. Cronulla Sharks (10)

I dropped the Sharks because of injuries, not their magnificent effort. They lost four players and travel to the Sunshine Coast to face the desperate Cowboys on Saturday. But the performance against the Eels was the blueprint for a team that knows its identity. However, their outside backs depth may be tested.

12. Brisbane Broncos (12)

You don't get too many credits for beating the Bulldogs. They eventually opened up the shackles after a 2-0 half-time lead, but it wasn't great.

13. Wests Tigers (15)

Great win in Newcastle. I savaged the Tigers last week because they didn’t turn up against the Roosters, but they got the job done this round in a tough environment. I was really happy for Luke Brooks. I've been pretty critical of him at times, but he looked settled alongside Adam Doueihi in the halves.

14. Canterbury Bulldogs (14)

Haven't scored any points two weeks in a row and pressure is building. Their task doesn't get easier as they face the Rabbitohs this week. Canterbury look really stressed when they've got the ball, and that's leading to indecision and people not doing their job.

Defy Impossible: Viliame Kikau's match-saving tackle

15. North Queensland Cowboys (15)

Could've put them last, but North Queensland stayed off the bottom because they showed a bit of grit last round. The Cowboys are in real trouble. I'm tempted to say they almost gave up against the Titans. It wasn't pretty to watch.

16. Manly Sea Eagles (16)

Had a lot of ball in the first half against the Dragons but didn't capitalise. They're struggling to find healthy players in their preferred positions. Putting together makeshift edges has really put pressure on other guys to stand up.


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

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