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Soward: Sea Eagles flying; Raiders and Rabbitohs sinking

There wasn’t too much movement in the bottom half of the rankings this week. Consistency is what we're looking for whether that's in style, effort or competitiveness to move up the ladder.

1. Penrith Panthers (Last week: 1)

The only thing that will stop Penrith is themselves. They just keep rolling on and Nathan Cleary keeps getting better. They're about to have a big test during the Origin period but I wouldn't be surprised if they don't lose a game.

2. Melbourne Storm (2)

This one doesn't change. What a performance, what a club. With so many players out they just keep coming up with answers. Every time we think it might be the end of Melbourne they readjust and just keep winning.

3. Manly Sea Eagles (6)

Manly are climbing rapidly. They keep getting better. Looking at their draw they have a lot of winnable games coming up. Tom Trbojevic is getting plenty of accolades and rightly so; he sets the standards defensively and the rest follow.

4. Parramatta Eels (3)

This was a worrying game from the Eels. I thought they'd make a statement but in a big game and big occasion with plenty of emotion they couldn't get up for it. It's a timely reminder for them where they need to improve when the finals roll around.

This weekend against Souths will be a huge game for both sides but if they can win their next four leading into Penrith they get another chance to prove themselves.

5. Sydney Roosters (4)

They suffered a big loss in a game they were expected to win but I've only dropped them one spot. It was just one of those games and they've been up for a while. I'm not too worried about the Roosters although the Origin period will be tough for them.

6. Warriors (7)

I like the look of the Warriors at the moment. They've copped a bit of criticism the last couple of weeks but they're right on the cusp of the top eight and have a winnable game against the Cowboys this week. They need to work out exactly what they're doing with their spine to get the best out of Reece Walsh.

7. South Sydney Rabbitohs (6)

What do you say about this performance? I don't think they can win the comp as they're leaking too many points. This is not a Wayne Bennett, defensive attitude team at the moment. They may prove me wrong but I just can't see it. This was their big test against Penrith and even if they didn't win they needed to keep it close.

8. North Queensland Cowboys (9)

I'm bullish on the Cowboys. I think they'll finish as the top Queensland team this year. Val Holmes is playing nice and direct while Reece Robson and Jake Granville are working well together. I like what the Cowboys are doing.

Every try from Round 11

9. St George Illawarra Dragons (10)

They're just holding on at the moment. They've got a lot of players out but the suspensions are their own doing. That loss against Cronulla was one that got away and they need to get back on track with some winnable games coming up.

10. Gold Coast Titans (12)

I keep saying it, but maturity is the key for the Titans. We know they can score points but they leaked 20 to the Bulldogs at home and Justin Holbrook has his hands full. With games against the Storm, Roosters and Sea Eagles coming up we'll know what they're about over the next month.

11. Brisbane Broncos (15)

This is the highest I've had the Broncos in a long time. I was really impressed with their attitude the other night. They added Albert Kelly to the halves as a running five-eighth which worked well. One of the bottom teams beat one of the top teams and I have to reward that so they're up four spots this week.

Because Origin isn’t motivated by victory, it’s powered by rivalry

12. Cronulla Sharks (14)

It was a gritty win against the Dragons the other night but whether that turns things around or not we'll have to wait and see. They've got some tricky games coming up so they need this to kick-start something.

13. Wests Tigers (13)

No movement after a narrow loss to the Warriors. I feel like the Tigers are going to potentially run into a massive wall over the next couple of weeks with three top-four opponents after the Dragons so I can't really move them up but there are some bright lights there.

14. Canberra Raiders (10)

Injuries have hurt them this year and they can't get any momentum. They just seem to have lost their identity. It should be really tough to go down to Canberra and get a win but that hasn't been the case this year and they haven't really fixed anything over the last couple of weeks.

Bankwest remembers Bob Fulton

15. Newcastle Knights (11)

I'm a bit stressed if I'm a Newcastle fan and I'm not sure where their season is heading. They're still only two points outside of the top eight but they just can't get any luck at the moment.

16. Canterbury Bulldogs (16)

A bit disappointing again from the Bulldogs. They haven't improved too much but at least scored some points against Gold Coast. Need to work on a few areas but face Penrith this week which could be anything.


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

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