NRL Power Rankings: Round 7
A new NRL top four has begun to emerge while the Dragons start their climb out of the doldrums.
1. Broncos (Last week: 1)
When the premiership favourites host the team tipped to win the wooden spoon you expect a one-sided result, and that's exactly what the Broncos delivered in their 53-0 thrashing of the Newcastle Knights on Saturday night. Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt were brilliant, and the Brisbane defence hasn't conceded a single point in the past fortnight.
2. Cowboys (2)
The reigning champs outclassed Souths 44-18, continuing their run as the NRL's best attacking side in 2016. But unlike the Broncos they still don't quite appear to have hit top gear yet this year.
3. Sharks (3)
Produced possibly their best performance of the season, thumping the Raiders in Canberra 40-16 with Ben Barba having a field day from the back with two tries.
4. Eels (4)
Is it too early to say we have a new NRL "big four"? Parramatta were too good for Manly at Brookvale Oval on Thursday night and they're yet to be beaten away from home in 2016. That record will be tested though on Saturday night in their first game outside Sydney this season – against the Cowboys in Townsville.
5. Bulldogs (5)
Beaten by the Warriors in Wellington, the Bulldogs have bizarrely won all their away games this season and lost all their home games – albeit with one "away" game being against the Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium and one designated "home" game being against the Warriors in Wellington. They play their next four at ANZ so will be keen to snap that record quickly.
6. Storm (6)
Melbourne got out of jail with a golden-point win over the Wests Tigers on Sunday in what must be considered another disappointing performance considering the Tigers had been beaten by the lowly Knights a week earlier. In saying that, they sit just two competition points behind the league leaders and have plenty of time to get their groove back before the business end of the season.
7. Raiders (7)
Thrashed at home by Cronulla, the Raiders have three wins, three losses and a draw after seven rounds and find themselves on the edge of the top eight once again. They've got more talent in their squad than they've had for years but still need to improve their combinations if they're going to become a genuine finals force this season.
8. Panthers (10)
Penrith held on in yet another close contest to beat the Roosters on Monday night and would surely love just one comfortable win to allow their fans (and coach) to relax a little in the final five minutes of a game for once. It probably won't come against a fierce Sharks side in Cronulla this week though.
9. Sea Eagles (8)
Manly were very scratchy in their 22-10 loss to Parramatta, although they were without first-choice hooker Matt Parcell and forward Brenton Lawrence, and still have star half Daly Cherry-Evans in the casualty ward for a week or two.
10. Rabbitohs (9)
They weren't expected to beat the premiers in Townsville but South Sydney were still well below their best on Friday night. They'll need to improve significantly if they're to avoid another humbling result in Brisbane this Friday.
11. Titans (11)
Considering their strong start to the season, the return of first-choice half Tyrone Roberts and the poor recent form of their opponents, the Gold Coast would have been disappointed to have been beaten 19-14 at home by the Dragons on Saturday afternoon.
12. Wests Tigers (12)
Almost bounced back in perfect fashion from last week's loss to Newcastle but were pipped at the post by the Storm. They've now lost five straight, although their last two defeats have been by two points or less. Can they snap their cold streak in Canberra this week?
13. Warriors (14)
Earned a much-needed win against the Bulldogs to ease the pressure on their coach for now, but the loss of marquee signing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to a season-ending knee injury is a major blow. The versatile Tuimoala Lolohea excelled after shifting to the back on the weekend though and can certainly fill the role there for the remainder of the year.
14. Dragons (16)
After failing to score a point this month the Dragons grabbed 19 of them – and a much-needed victory – against the Titans on the Gold Coast to jump-start their sluggish season. The fact they're scoring a little over eight points a game and still have three wins to their name is remarkable, and they're actually in equal eighth place on the ladder.
15. Roosters (13)
Beaten by the Panthers on Monday, the Roosters have just one win to their name from seven games this season, and their chances of a finals run are getting slimmer by the week. On the plus side, Boyd Cordner, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Mitchell Pearce are on the comeback trail.
16. Knights (15)
Last week's win over the Tigers seems an age away after the Knights were brought crashing back down to earth with a humbling 53-0 flogging in Brisbane – albeit with just a single fit man on the bench by full-time. Knights fans will be hopeful a home clash against old rivals Manly could spark them to another morale-boosting victory this week.
This article first appeared on NRL.com