Confusing Eels picture after title flex; Reynolds burns sliding Souths: NRL Power Rankings

The Jekyll and Hyde Eels showed they can end their premiership drought if they can find some consistency.

Meanwhile, the Rabbitohs were given a brutal lesson from their former hero Adam Reynolds as Cody Walker’s frustrations were laid bare.

Read on for the latest NRL Power Rankings ahead of Magic Round.

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‘Cody is missing Wayne BIG TIME’ | 03:50

16. KNIGHTS

Last week’s ranking: 16th (no movement)

Newcastle’s season of woe continued with a convincing 36-16 loss to the high-flying Cowboys. There were improvements from Adam O’Brien’s side, but only because they couldn’t get much worse than they have been during their seven game losing streak. Tex Hoy was impressive after being thrust into the halves for the dropped Jake Clifford, but Phoenix Crossland still looks out of his depth at halfback. Kalyn Ponga was used in the five-eighth role in attack, but getting him to play two positions is unfair on him and the team itself and he is much better off nailing one role. The Knights get some much needed troops back for Magic Round, which means they have no excuses to beat the lowly Bulldogs or the wooden spoon looks a near certainty this season.

Kalyn Ponga was caught between playing two positions against the Cowboys.Source: Getty Images

15. TITANS

Last week’s ranking: 14th (down one spot)

Given they went within a whisker of the semi-finals last season, the Titans have been arguably the most disappointing side so far in 2022 and their 44-16 loss to the Roosters was arguably their worst performance of the year. Brian Kelly and Patrick Herbert missed 11 tackles between them as the Titans’ edge defence was blown apart. AJ Brimson’s move back to fullback has so far failed to ignite the Titans’ attack and he is back in the halves this week. Will Smith had a solid game in attack and Toby Sexton improved his running game by testing the line more, but he still had zero try involvements. Not a single Titans player ran for over 100 metres which won’t win you many game sin the NRL and the Gold Coast look closer to the spoon than a finals repeat this season.

AJ Brimson’s switch back to fullback hasn’t got the results the Titans were looking for.Source: Getty Images

14. BULLDOGS

Last week’s ranking: 12th (down two spots)

It was a case of one step forward two steps back for the Bulldogs, who followed up their gutsy 16-12 win over the Roosters with a dour 14-4 loss to the Raiders, who were in horrible form and coming off five straight losses. The fact the Bulldogs could only manage four points against a team that has leaked them all season sums up their spluttering attack in 2022, which is worrying given the amount of recruits they brought to the club to address that long-time problem. Matt Burton found his running game and scored a try in a much improved display, but he and halves partner Kyle Flanagan still need to do so much more to unleash the Bulldogs’ try-scorers out wide.

Matt Burton still needs to do more in the playmaking department.Source: Getty Images

13. WARRIORS

Last week’s ranking: 11th (down two spots)

The woeful Warriors put in one of their most embarrassing displays against the Sharks, who convincingly beat them 29-10 despite Cronulla being reduced to 11 men. Halves Shaun Johnson and Daejern asi missed 10 tackles between them and had just one try involvement despite the numerical advantage. Remarkably Matt Lodge was the only player in the 17 to notch over 100 run metres, which is staggering given the amount of space that was on the field when the Sharks were down on troops. The Warriors are still not getting Reece Walsh enough space to work his magic and use his speed, which was even more confounding in this shambles of a performance.

Reece Walsh is struggling to reach the heights of last year.Source: Getty Images

12. TIGERS

Last week’s ranking: 13th (down one spot)

The Tigers’ season resurgence is well and truly on the backburner after they were beaten 36-22 by the Sea Eagles. Defence remains a real concern for Michael Maguire’s side after they let in 40 missed tackles and seven tries against Manly and trying to outscore teams is not a viable strategy every week in the NRL. Starford To’a is doing a solid job at the back, but the side is missing Daine Laurie, who was huge in their two wins over the Eels and Rabbitohs. Luke Brooks and Jackson Hastings have been solid in the halves, but the side are missing some strike centres to help create more try-scoring opportunities. It doesn’t get any easier against the flying Cowboys in Magic Round.

Luke Brooks needs more from his side as a defensive unit.Source: Getty Images

11. RAIDERS
Last week’s ranking
: 15th (up four spots)

The Raiders’ 14-4 win over the Bulldogs wasn’t pretty, but after five straight losses they just needed to get the job done. Fortunately for Ricky Stuart’s side they didn’t fade out in the second half and their defence was much improved. Matt Frawley was impressive at five-eighth and the fact the Raiders won without their best player in Jack Wighton is a good sign. They will only get better when Wighton is back to his best after his suspension. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was much improved after returning to starting fullback. The Raiders built this win on a much improved showing from their forward pack and that is the key to producing consistent performances and climbing up the ladder for this squad.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad returned to form in the No.1 jumper.Source: Getty Images

10. RABBITOHS
Last week’s ranking
: 7th (down three spots)

South Sydney continued their inconsistent start to the season to drop their fifth game in a convincing loss to the Broncos, to knock them out of the top eight. The Rabbitohs’ attack looks all at sea at the moment and Cody Walker seems off his game and playing without his usual freedom and enjoyment. Lachlan Ilias is improving every week, but the side clearly misses Adam Reynolds and his assured kicking game and organisation of the side’s attack. Walker is a shadow of the player that tore up the competition with Reynolds on route to last year’s grand final and the side can’t get Latrell Mitchell back quick enough to help their spluttering attack.

Cody Walker was frustrated against the Broncos.Source: Getty Images

9. DRAGONS

Last week’s ranking: 4th (down five spots)

After a three week win streak the Dragons came crashing back down to earth with a 42-6 pommeling at the hands of a ruthless Storm outfit. Just when we thought they had turned a corner defensively, the Dragons produced a sloppy performance against the team you can’t afford to be off your game against and the gulf in class was palpable. Anthony Griffin continues to chop and change his halves with Jack Bird returning to the second row and missing a whopping 11 tackles and one wonders when the coach is going to pick and stick and cement his key positions. This was a loss that brutally exposed the Dragons forwards, with Josh McGuire the only forward to notch over 100 metres and they need much more if they want to be a finals threat this season.

Jack Bird struggled in his return to the second row.Source: Getty Images

8. SEA EAGLES
Last week’s ranking
: 9th (up one spot)

The Sea Eagles welcomed back superstar Tom Trbojevic in the 36-22 win over the Tigers, but it was younger brother Ben who stole the show with two tries in the second row. The Trbojevic brothers in their first game together were all excellent, while Reuben Garrick also grabbed a double in a convincing win. Daly Cherry-Evans is arguably in the form of his career and has rediscovered his running game with over 130 metres, two try assists and a try against the Tigers. Des Hasler will still not be happy with his side’s defence, but without their two starting second-rowers in Josh Schuster and Haumole Olakau’atu, Manly showed plenty of fight to get the job done while down on troops.

The Trbojevic brothers starred in their first NRL game altogether.Source: The Daily Telegraph

7. ROOSTERS
Last week’s ranking
: 10th (up three spots)

After back-to-back losses the Roosters returned to form with a rout of an admittedly poor Titans team. The 44-16 win saw James Tedesco at his best with three linebreaks and a hat-trick to lead his team from the front. The Roosters’ back three had seven tries between them as Daniel Tupou and Joseph Suaalii also snared doubles. Under pressure halves Luke Keary and Sam Walker bounced back into form, with the halfback producing four try assists and the five-eighth 120 run metres, two linebreak assists and a try assist. The injury to Sam Verrills is a bitter blow, as they aim to get some momentum in the middle part of the season and bigger tests are ahead for this side, but they are showing signs of improvement, especially in attack.

Luke Keary found form against the Titans.Source: News Corp Australia

6. EELS
Last week’s ranking
: 8th (up two spots)

The Eels put their worst performance of the season behind them to bounce back from their thrashing by the Cowboys and hand the defending premiers their first loss of the season. The 22-20 nailbiting win showed the Eels are a premiership threat and they have now beaten the two most consistent teams in the NRL this season, making them the only team to beat either Melbourne or Penrith. Dylan Brown’s return to five-eighth ignited the Eels’ attack and he and Reed Mahoney both scored tries in eye-catching displays. The Eels pack led by bookends Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo took it to the title holders and Clint Gutherson was superb at the back. Now the challenge is for Brad Arthur’s side to show that every week.

Dylan Brown was back to his best at five-eighth.Source: Getty Images

5. BRONCOS

Last week’s ranking: 6th (up one spot)

The baby Broncos are surging after securing their third win on the trot in a clinical 32-12 win over the Rabbitohs. Adam Reynolds returned to haunt his old club with two try assists and a try and Selwyn Cobbo had a double in an eye-catching display. However, it was the Broncos pack minus their two best players in Payne Haas and Kurt Capwell that really stood up. The Broncos have a new found defensive resolve and willingness to work for each other that we haven’t seen in the last few seasons. With Reynolds’ kicking game they can match it with most sides in the competition and their next goal is to beat a top four team.

Adam Reynolds returned to burn his old club.Source: The Daily Telegraph

4. COWBOYS
Last week’s ranking
: 3rd (down one spot)

It may have been against the depleted Knights, but the Cowboys just keep on winning in 2022 and have now cemented themselves in the top four, after being tipped by some to run last this season. Scott Drinkwater continues to impress at fullback, with Origin star Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow having to make do with a bench role, which shows you how well the Cowboys are playing at the moment. Chad Townsend is earning his big money contract after setting up four tries against the Knights. Jason Taumalolo has been immense in leading a young Cowboys pack that are starting to get the recognition they deserve.

Chad Townsend had four try assists against the Knights.Source: Getty Images

3. PANTHERS
Last week’s ranking
: 2nd (down one spot)

The Panthers looked to have continued their winless start to the year before a late Eels fightback saw them go down 22-20 in a thriller of a local derby between the two arch rivals. Dylan Edwards and Api Koroisau continued their hot run of form, but halves Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai were below their own lofty standards. Had they not been gifted a try for a Viliame Kikau knock-on, the Eels would have done it a lot easier. The fact they only lost by two while not at their best means it isn’t panic stations yet, but the streak is over for now and they get another tough challenge against the Storm this week in the match of the round.

Nathan Cleary was below his best against the Eels.Source: Getty Images

2. SHARKS
Last week’s ranking
: 5th (up three spots)

The shock loss to the Broncos had everyone wondering if the 2022 Sharks were the real deal, but they returned to legitimate contenders with a gutsy 29-10 win over the Warriors after they were reduced to 11 men. The Sharks have a steel back in them and with buy of the year contender Nicho Hynes setting up three tries and scoring another, anything seems possible for this team. The suspensions to Jesse Ramien and William Kennedy will test their depth in the outside backs, but as long as they keep defending with the same commitment, they will give themselves a chance in every game until the cavalry returns.

Nicho Hynes was superb against the Warriors.Source: Getty Images

1. STORM
Last week’s ranking
: 1st (no movement)

The Storm are now on top of the table and the power rankings for the first time this season after another demolition of the Dragons 42-6. Last year the Storm produced one of the best attacking seasons in the history of the game, but they are arguably on pace to be better in 2022. The Dragons were coming off three straight wins and had defended well in that stretch, but they were dismantled by a ruthless Storm outfit led by masterclasses from the in form spine in the competition in Harry Grant, Cameron Munster, Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen. The Storm pack might not get the highlight reels, but they are setting the platform that has Melbourne on track for yet another minor premiership. The Papenhuyzen injury is a blow, but one they have shown they can cover in the past and they just have too many good players in red hot form. Their Magic Round clash with the Panthers should be an epic.

Cameron Munster is in irresistible form.Source: Getty Images

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