Say what you want about the Melbourne Storm but they keep producing victories.
They're winning ugly but they are getting the two competition points.
Despite what desperate teams say late in the season when they're trying to sneak into the finals about matches being extra important, they all count for the same old competition points and the Storm have four in the bank when they could quite easily have zero.
There's been a lot of movement in the Power Rankings this week with such a small sample size leading to some wild fluctuations.
1. Melbourne: (Last week 2): You can see why Brisbane Broncos were withdrawing enough dollars from Suncorp Bank to fill Suncorp Stadium to lure Cameron Smith back to his home town. Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater have that mongrel edge where no matter how they need to get a victory, they do everything they can to get the job done. Street smarts are essential in rugby league.
2. Roosters (3): Now that's a performance more befitting of defending premiers. A one-week grand final hangover is now out of the system but a thrashing of Parramatta could be viewed as false form if the Eels slip back to last year's (sub)standards. This Friday night's clash with the suprise packets Brisbane north of the border will provide a better gauge of the Roosters' early-season efforts.
3. Rabbitohs (1): Was that complacency? Souths never appeared to be in full gear against a Manly side missing the Stewart brothers last Friday night. No truth to the rumour that opposing supercoach Toovey said there needs to be an investigaaaation into how flat the Bunnies were at Gosford.
4. Sea Eagles (4): the same four teams which dominated last season have quickly shown they'll be the teams to beat again in 2014. Manly have a winning culture. Hate them all you want but they know how to chalk up victories. It's why they haven't missed a finals series since 2004 when they were still trying to clean up the mess that was the Northern Eagles merger/slowly executed execution of North Sydney.
5. Panthers (5): yes, they lost but they lost to the Storm. In Melbourne. Without Jamie Soward. By a point. And they could have won it on the full-time siren if Peter Wallace's long-range penalty goal attempt was better. Elijah Taylor, who played the full 80 minutes and racked up 43 tackles, could go down as one of the buys of the season.
6. Broncos (8): it wasn't quite the Broncos of yesteryear but a big crowd in Brisbane and the home side getting the victory was a lot more reminiscent of the golden era than they mediocre football the team dished up last year. Halfback Ben Hunt's kicking game has improved out of sight.
7. Bulldogs (9): flogging the Sharks was a step in the right direction but they'll get a much sterner working over at Penrith on Saturday. Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds combined for three of their many line breaks against Cronulla and those two will need to keep sparking the attack for Canterbury to continue to rise up the ladder.
8. Dragons (10): how good is young fullback Adam Quinlan? They'll have to find a spot for him once Josh Dugan returns from injury in a week or two. Perhaps halfback. He'd be a decent option alongside Gareth Widdop at the scrum-base if Sam Williams doesn't consistently deliver the goods. At last, supercoach Price has some nice selection headaches.
9. Cowboys (6): when the game is on the line, North Queensland have the luxury of going to Johnathan Thurston to produce some magic. The only problem is every defender in every other team knows this. He needs a Matt Bowen-like sidekick. Who that will be? Hard to say. Robert Lui is occasionally dynamic and new fullback Michael Morgan isn't known as an attacking force. Ray Thompson at hooker? None of these guys strike too much fear in opposition defensive lines.
10. Tigers (16): can Luke Brooks go more than a week without an Andrew Johns comparison? Apparently not. It's a great thing for the young halfback as long as he doesn't think he needs to become Joey overnight. Even Johns will admit he wasn't a great player until at least his third or fourth season in the top grade. The big win in the Gold Coast heat was a great starting point but the Tigers have shown in recent years they can have flash-in-the-pan wins but not build momentum.
11. Titans (7): it took Jamal Idris a year to get fit when he moved to the Gold Coast. Dave Taylor looks like he's still in the "waiting to get back to top shape" mode on the holiday strip. Be careful Canterbury fans, he was the Andrew Fifita of the NRL two years ago. All the size and skill in the world but nowadays, he'd be flat out getting another contract at a rival club if the Titans turned him loose.
12. Raiders (15): now that was more like a Green Machine. Jack Wighton looked much more at home in his second outing at five-eighth. Opposition fullbacks and wingers need to take note - he's got a booming left hoof. His 40/20 late in the piece in Newcastle was crucial in the win over the Knights.
13. Knights (14): they lost for a second week in a row but they've risen a ranking. Don't get excited Novacastrians - the ineptitude shown by the three teams below is the only reason Newcastle have not slipped further down the pecking order after coughing up victory at home to Canberra.
14. Warriors (13): weren't they supposed to be good this year? It was a strange characteristic of supercoach Elliott's teams at Penrith that they'd start the year slowly as if they'd had no pre-season. Sam Tomkins is improving as he adjusts to the quicker pace of the NRL, the rest of the team has no excuse.
15. Eels (12): well that was good while it lasted Parra fans. Darcy Lussick's hit on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was dumb and dumber. Unfortunately the referees did not send him off and therefore send a clear message to players throughout the league that foul play won't be tolerated again this year.
16. Sharks (11): long-suffering Cronulla fans can only hope the team has hit rock bottom. On and off the field, the club is in turmoil. The Sharks are not only without a major sponsor, their jerseys are total cleanskins, front, back, sleeves. The side has to improve when some of the injured and suspended players return in the next few weeks but they'll be giving the top teams a big head start in the race to the finals.