The Roar
The Roar


NRL Power Rankings: Can we have multiple teams in last place as Tigers, Dogs and Dragons circle the drain

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3rd July, 2023
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Round 18 is in the books, one of the beautiful weeks of football between one round destroyed by Origin back-ups and before another one that will be destroyed by Origin call-ups.

Wayne Bennett thinks it should be over three weeks in the middle of year: here at Power Rankings Towers, we agree with the supercoach. Get it out the way and let us go back to our beautiful, serene world of ordering teams based on performance and working out that Penrith are good and the Tigers are rubbish. Spoiler alert.

Smashings aside, there was plenty to love this weekend. Your columnist was on the hill at Brookie Oval, sinking 4 Pines watching sunny Sunday afternoon footy in what people in this country repeatedly, deliberately refer to as winter. You don’t know you’re born.

The Panthers game was great too, as was the Brisbane derby, and even the Raiders and Titans served up something special. Strap in, let’s rank.

1 – Panthers (-)

The threepeat is on. This Panthers team are right back to their best and good luck everyone else.

2 – Broncos (-)

The Broncos, again, win, but again, don’t really look that good in doing so. They’re a weird mob at the moment.


OK, so plenty of players out, but the Dolphins have been battered by everyone of late and did everything in their power to tempt another one at the Gabba on Saturday night. Yet Brisbane huffed and puffed and very nearly lost the game.

It’s understandable that a team that is less accustomed to front-running would eventually struggle with it, and it might well be that they’ve picked a good time to drop their levels. A lot of footy, with few byes, and a lot of Origin has caught up.

The Bronx do get a tough-ish run home, but they should have enough runs on the board to make the top four and that’s all that really matters now.

3 – Souths (+1)

Souths needed this week. Their slide had looked like it might be a permanent one, but all the facets that propelled the Bunnies to the top of the P Ranks during their winning streak earlier in the year were back on display in Auckland.

They faced all the adversity before the game – short turnaround, with travel, men out, fired up sold out crowd – and then when it started, got smashed by penalties early on. 

Yet they defended for their lives and took their chances when they came to record a potentially season-defining victory. 


It’s a benign trot home, with the Dogs, Dragons, Tigers, Knights and Roosters to come with nothing to play for. It should be top four minimum.

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

4 – Storm (-1)

Melbourne have threatened to be not very good for a while – performances, if not results – and were fairly shown up by a superb Panthers outfit.

No shame there, but it does reinforce the idea that they might not quite be in the uppermost echelons of the comp anymore. Even with everyone on deck, they couldn’t lay a glove on the Premiers.

5 – Sharks (-)

We didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know about Cronulla. Yes, they’re a lot better than bad teams. No, that probably won’t help them when they play good teams. Tigers next, too, so we won’t learn much there either.


6 – Eels (-)

The Eels took the week off, demolishing bye. They play the Warriors next and it’s a huge, huge game. Good luck, as Brad Fittler has seen fit to call up their three best players for a total dead rubber.

7 – Raiders (+1)

“Canberra remain inscrutable regarding how good they actually are, but that has been the case for ages now.”

We’re going to straight up copy and paste this every week until proven otherwise. What are the Raiders? 

Resilient, committed, packed with a burning sense of vengeance against the world…but also kinda rubbish and only score off kicks? Who knows at this stage…

(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)


8 – Cowboys (+1)

North Queensland are purring now, and that’s not even a Tigers joke. OK, so the Townsville Blackhawks might have still won on Saturday evening, but that’s not Todd Payten’s fault. 

It was a contest for children, and Scott Drinkwater beat their brains out. With the ladder as it is, the Cows are level on wins with the Warriors and Eels and two wins ahead of Manly and the Titans, so we’re entering endgame for the top eight. Parra and the Cowboys are likely the favourites to make it.

9 – Warriors (-2)

A poor week for the Warriors. Not for the first time, they had all the ducks in a row for a statement win at home, but fluffed their lines.

In the grand scheme of things, who cares, because they’re already well above expectations, but the worry might be that fans now think they’re a finals team. That’s pressure, especially with the resurgent Cowboys breathing down their necks.

10 – Manly (-)


Daly Cherry-Evans is a champion, make no mistake there. He kept Manly’s hopes alive, at least for another two weeks, by beating the Roosters.

They’ll need him to do it again against the Cowboys at Fortress Brookie next time out, but win that and a path does open up. So you’re saying there’s a chance…

11 – Dolphins (-)

The Phins phought back in the second half and made life very difficult for the Broncos. Then they lost anyway. 

It’s encouraging that the slide is somewhat stopped – performance wise at least – but it was another defeat. They’ll finish fourth bottom and probably be happy enough with it.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: James Tedesco of the Roosters is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and Sydney Roosters at 4 Pines Park on July 02, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

James Tedesco. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

12 – Roosters (-)


The Roosters are doneskis for the top eight barring a miracle after losing the straight shootout with Manly. Tedesco, Keary and Manu actually showed up and looked decent, but that wasn’t enough. In truth, that’s kinda been the case all year. 2024 starts now, and team selections might start to reflect that.

13 – Titans (-)

Another week where the Gold Coast might well have won, but fell into the vortex of Canberra. It was bizarro world for the Titans, who defended alright but couldn’t attack. The Raiders will do that to you.

14 – Knights (+1)

A stay of execution for Adam O’Brien after his side blew the Bulldogs out of the water with an excellent performance, aided by some of the most half-arsed defending seen since, err, the night before. 

One swallow does not make a summer but you’d have to think that O’Brien will now make it to the end of the season, especially given that they’ll get another go at their club record score against the Tigers next time out.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JULY 02: Bradman Best of the Knights celebrates scoring a try with Greg Marzhew during the round 18 NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Newcastle Knights at Accor Stadium on July 02, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)


15 – Bulldogs (-)

Nearly did the full ‘hold my beer’ to the Wests Tigers, but capped it at a merely dreadful 66-0 rather than a total disband-the-club of 74-0. Not a banner week for the Doggies, but they can’t really drop further given results elsewhere.

16 – Tigers (-)

Even when they were good, you knew that they’d be bad again eventually.

17 – Dragons (-)

A rabble, and yet somehow come out as only the third worst Sydney team of the round. Not many would have said that on Thursday at about 11pm.

It’s impossible to move a team that loses 52-16 up the rankings, and broadly they have been worse than the Tigers this year, but really, think of it as three teams in joint last place.