NRL Power Rankings: Round 16 – Warriors once were formidable but now a mess, Rabbitohs rising, Tigers bare teeth

For the maths nerds out there, 58.82% of teams played this round with seven sides putting their collective feet up.

And for many fans who are not quite as precise with their percentages, the interest level in the five matches for the round equated to three-fifths of bugger all. 

There was not just a lack of star factor due to State of Origin representation this round, the cumulative effects of injuries over the course of the season has resulted in some makeshift teams being trotted out.

Manly’s side that took on Souths on Saturday night was barely recognisable compared to their full-strength line-up. 

They tried hard but the whole match had an air of a glorified NSW Cup match to it. 

But hey, the Tigers won again – that’s two on the trot, one more and it’s officially a streak.

And two competition points in an abbreviated round are as valuable as any other victory and particularly for the Storm, their depleted line-up’s triumph in Brisbane over the Dolphins could be priceless in the race to win the minor premiership.

Melbourne are in the outright lead and three wins clear of fifth spot so a 12th top-four finish in the space of 14 years since the “unpleasantness” of the 2010 wooden spoon looks a fait accompli.

Team by team, here’s how the Power Rankings stack up after Round 16.

1 Panthers (last week 1): Had the bye. Another week closer to Nathan Cleary returning.

2 Storm (2): They are all class. There were a few points in Friday’s game against the Dolphins where they could have buckled under pressure but with Jahrome Hughes pulling the strings, they racked up their fourth high-scoring win from their last five starts.

(Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

3 Roosters (3): The development of Sam Walker into an elite playmaker is unfolding before Trent Robinson’s eyes. 

He is still a long way from being the finished product but he whether it’s next year or the one after, he’s the heir apparent to Daly Cherry-Evans’ No.7 Queensland jersey. 

4 Sharks (4): Had the bye. Needed it after losing three of their last four.

5 Dolphins (5): They are Melbourne Lite. The Squall. Not quite the Storm but made of similar stuff, which is sort of expected given that Craig Bellamy was a Wayne Bennett disciple but the master has to operate with the lesser roster.

They don’t make too many errors and they’re not too flashy, especially when Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow is absent, but they are more committed (and successful this year) than a lot of sides with more stars in their line-up.

6 Broncos (7): Get a slight rise in their bye week only because the Dogs lost.

7 Bulldogs (6): As you may have read earlier, they lost. They played dry-weather footy a few too many times against the Roosters in crucial moments and Sam Walker made them pay.

Keaon Koloamatangi. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

8 Rabbitohs (12): They now have four wins on the trot to make a playoff push a distinct possibility.

Jye Gray showed on Saturday night that he deserves an extended crack at the NRL but with Latrell Mitchell returning after Origin II, that might be hard to accommodate unless Ben Hornby gives him a super-sub berth, which may be a stretch as he doesn’t have the size to cope with hooker or a roving lock role.

9 Cowboys (11): Get to go up because the Raiders went down.

10 Raiders (8): As mentioned previously, they went down in a heap on Sunday at Campbelltown. 

After successive losses to the Cowboys and Tigers, the grind of the season looks like it’s getting on top of them. Doesn’t matter, they can always bounce back this weekend when they play … (checks notes), the Storm in Melbourne.

11 Sea Eagles (10): Can’t be too tough on them given they had virtually a first-grade side unavailable against Souths.

Manly coach Anthony Seibold confirmed Tom Trbojevic will be back from his hamstring injury after the bye. Forget this “might play him at centre” malarkey, put him at fullback and let the star Sea Eagle fly.

12 Warriors (9): Atrocious, abysmal, awful. That’s just the start of the alphabet of terms that could be used to describe their “effort” on the Gold Coast in what was a pseudo home game with thousands of expat Kiwis in attendance.

They looked to be rediscovering last year’s form with three straight wins but the loss at home to Melbourne, followed by this capitulation, is more reminiscent of the bad old Warriors of yesteryear.

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

13 Eels (13): They had the bye and their season will go bye-byes if Mitchell Moses doesn’t get through Origin II unscathed.

14 Dragons (14): After their bye they now face a crucial three-week stretch against the Dolphins, Roosters and Broncos which could make or break their yo-yoing finals chances.

15 Wests (16): Tigers fans have seen it all before and this two-game winning “sequence” is probably another false dawn. Don’t expect them to surge up the ladder with such an inexperienced squad.

But that was a fine performance at Campbelltown which shows Benji Marshall at least has this team tracking in the right direction.

16 Titans (17): A 20-point win over the Warriors would have been jaw-dropping but 60 is astounding. 

Des Hasler is slowly working out who are his keepers and who works best in each role – Jayden Campbell needs to have the No.6 jersey every week and if he can stay injury free, the sky is the limit for the talented playmaker.

17 Knights (15): They are probably the best-performing last-placed team in the rankings this year but after three straight losses before the bye, they are a victim of the rare circumstances of the Titans and Tigers registering thumping victories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.