NRL Power Rankings: Round 14 – Broncos buckin’ awful, Warriors on the warpath, Dogs surging, Tigers more like kittens


Brisbane’s slide is probably only a momentary lapse in a long season but their hopes of going one better than last year won’t be realised unless they get out of this funk quickly.

The Broncos have dropped to eighth after their second-half shocker against the Sharks after fading poorly in their previous loss to the Titans.

At 7-6 they are hardly reaching for the panic button but as their frustrated coach Kevin Walters succinctly summed it up in the post-match media conference, they have to “f—ing play better”.

They will again be without Reece Walsh this Friday against Souths and Adam Reynolds is months away from returning from his ruptured pec – the Broncs are not a one-man team but definitely too reliant on those two.

Team by team, here’s how the Power Rankings stack up after Round 14.

1 Panthers (last week 1): It’s testament to Penrith’s depth that even when they lose when they’ve got six Origin stars out to a mid-table team like St George Illawarra, it is considered an upset.

They rebounded on Sunday to overcome Manly and continue the NRL education of young playmaker Jack Cole so that he will be more than ready to step up next year when Jarome Luai becomes a Tiger.

2 Sharks (2): At 12-4 down at half-time on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium, the Sharks looked like they were missing their bite without Nicho Hynes.

But the unlikely figure of Royce Hunt sparked their comeback by using well-known rugby league fan Albert Einstein’s strategy of providing energy by hurling his mass into the Broncos at the speed of light.

3 Storm (5): They love a slugfest – seven of their nine wins have been by eight points or less, including Sunday’s victory over the Knights.

Without Ryan Papenhuyzen and Cameron Munster for at least another month, the Origin period should be tricky for Melbourne with Harry Grant and Xavier Coates involved but Craig Bellamy knows how to navigate this treacherous stretch.

4 Roosters (3): They drop a spot by virtue of their last-start loss to the Cowboys and the Storm rising. 

5 Broncos (4): After losing to the Titans and Sharks in similar circumstances, some of the young Broncos need to stop believing that they are the real deal and start showing it on the field.

They are no guarantee to knock over the improving Rabbitohs at Homebush this Friday and then have a trip to Auckland before hosting Penrith on the schedule. 

If they don’t turn their form around in a hurry, a top-four berth could prove out of reach in the final run to the playoffs.

6 Raiders (6): Grinded out a win over the bye on the weekend with Ricky Stuart fuming that nobody believes in their ability to accrue two competition points by default.

7 Warriors (9): They were ultra impressive in demolishing the Cowboys in the tropics and after turning their season around by upsetting Penrith at Magic Round, they’ve won three on the trot to be back firmly in the top-eight equation.

With more stars on the comeback trail in the next couple of weeks they can keep rising quickly up the ladder during the Origin period where they are unlikely to be affected unless Mitch Barnett gets elevated from the NSW extended squad.

8 Bulldogs (10): They have a high ceiling as far as their chances of not only making the playoffs but doing some damage in the finals now that they are really clicking, particularly in attack.

If they had a slice of luck here or there and a little more attention to detail, they could have turned a few of their near-misses into points on the scoreboard against Parra and secured the two valuable competition points on the ladder much earlier but no Dogs fan will be complaining about how you beat the Eels, as long as you beat them.

9 Dolphins (7): They have been treading water with losses to the Warriors and Raiders so the bye last weekend came at the perfect time.

10 Sea Eagles (7): They have lost four of their past five outings and have dropped out of the top eight.

With their next five matches against the Dragons, Rabbitohs, Cowboys, Knights and Titans, they have a chance to bank some wins against modest opposition but only if they’re not average themselves.

11 Eels (11): Trent Barrett hasn’t changed too much since taking over from Brad Arthur a few weeks back and they still seem to be hamstrung by their simplicity in attack unless Mitch Moses is orchestrating an attacking raid.

It is doubtful Parra could match it with the big dogs this season. A win on Monday over the Bulldogs would have lifted them to just two wins outside the top eight, but the late loss leaves their playoff campaign teetering on the proverbial tightrope.

12 Dragons (13): A long time ago in Wollongong, Rod Wishart started his first-grade career in the centres but didn’t make much of an impact so he was switched to the wing and went on to represent NSW and Australia.

Zac Lomax is on the same trajectory after his well-documented switch at the start of this season and after an impressive Blues debut and 32 points in the flogging of the Tigers on Friday, he should have been thanking Shane Flanagan not engineering a release to go to Parramatta.

13 Cowboys (12): After winning three on the trot and looking like they were starting to click in their upset win over the Roosters, they had a stinker against the Warriors.

Some of their goal-line defence was embarrassing. There’s something wrong with the attitude of this team which, on paper, should be top-four contenders.

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

14 Rabbitohs (16): It was only the Titans but the 46-12 was the kind of cakewalk a team like Souths needs after a severely underwhelming start to their injury-riddled season.

They are only three wins outside the top eight and now they have Latrell Mitchell, Jack Wighton, Cody Walker and Damien Cook combining as their spine, they will be a dangerous opponent for any team.

15 Titans (14): Just when you think the Gold Coast are starting to get their act together by beating Brisbane, they show little to no effort at home against a team they should beat in Souths.

David Fifita was great at smashing Cody Walker in a couple of bursts late in the game. Maybe he should do that while running into other forwards earlier on when each team is fighting to get the upper hand.

16 Knights (15): They managed to rack up a few line breaks and put 28 on the scoreboard but still fell short in Melbourne.

They’ve got the Panthers twice, Parra, Canberra, Manly and Brisbane in their next six starts – their finals hopes could be over by the time Kalyn Ponga comes back.

17 Wests (17): A total mess. The Lachlan Galvin situation is emblematic of the stigma that hovers over this club after many years of mismanagement and near-sighted decision making.

The Tigers not only have to pay over the odds to attract players to the club but they have to upgrade and extend contracts for their home-grown talent who don’t even want to stick around.

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