Round 7 NRL Ladder predictions: Top 5 starting to gap the rest. Sharks crash, Broncos and Tigers down 3. Sea Eagles and Cowboys up 4.

Stat of the week: Raiders averaging over 30 points conceded in their last 3 games.

(NRL ladder position in brackets)

1. Melbourne Storm. (4th) Holding. Too much class, still the best team in the comp and will go a long way defending their premiership. Let in some late tries but they were celebrating the win very early in this one.

2. Sydney Roosters. (5th) Holding. Again found the ability to cover for missing players. Once they built a 10 point lead they were impossible to stop. Continue to impress and nearly wiped out the Dragons positive for and against in one hit. Still my tip to play the Storm in the big dance.

3. Penrith Panthers. (1st) Holding. Standard win. Held the opposition at bay for 65min before the scoreline unfairly blew out. Back 3 really good this week. Still, 7 and 0, can’t do much better than that. First of 3 consecutive home games and they shouldn’t really be tested until round 11.

4. Parramatta Eels. (2nd) Up 1 spot. Highlighted the fact that the gap between the top and bottom teams is as wide as the Sydney Heads and then some. Sivo back to his best, Cartwright really arrived and the Opacic try early in the 2nd half was beautiful to watch. Dogs next then Roosters.

5. South Sydney Rabbitohs. (3rd) Down 1 spot. Again they were under the pump early but do what Souths always do and sailed home with a near faultless 2nd half, shoring up their competition rate. Benji had a blinder, winding back the clock 15 years. Raiders next and they should continue along their merry way. Still conceded 30 points, hence the drop.

6. St.George Illawarra Dragons. (6th) Holding. Lost the game at the back end of the 1st half when they let in 2 tries while down to 12 men. Once the Roosters found their rhythm the Dragons defence had no answers. Failed to capitalise when playing 13 on 12 themselves. Still at the top of the chasing pack, highlighting the gap between the top 5 and the rest.

7. Gold Coast Titans. (7th) Up 2 spots because they put 30 on a top 5 side and others deserved to slide. Another explosive first half from Fifita and, after leading by 14, really should have gone on with it in the 2nd half. Instead they leaked 30 points and have now conceded 76 points in 2 games, a very worrying trend for the coach and supporters. Perhaps this is the consistency that has been missing and may slide until they match it with a top 4 side.

8. Newcastle Knights. (10th) Up 2 spots despite the loss. Stuck with the Panthers for a long time before losing by 18. Scoreline not really indicative of how the game went and would have gone close to beating most teams based on their performance. Did well to keep Kikau quiet and they fought hard all game.

9. New Zealand Warriors. (9th) Down 2 spots. Yes they copped a dubious sin-binning but 26-4 at half time meant they were gonski. A couple of late tries but is still a thrashing in anyone’s book and again the Warriors remain in a ding-dong battle with the Titans as the most inconsistent team in the comp. Good luck tipping next week’s game against the Cowboys.

10. Manly Sea Eagles. (11th) Up 4 spots. A completely different team from a few weeks ago. Just tore the Tigers apart with brilliant attack. As a wise man recently said, the best way to stop leaking points is to score plenty yourself. An average competition rate (sic) didn’t stop them racking up another huge win.

11. North Qld Cowboys. (12th) Up 4 spots. 3 in a row now and this was an impressive come from behind win at home after being 18 points down. 2 winnable games coming up so they could be making a charge after a less than impressive start to the season.

12. Canberra Raiders. (8th) Down 1 spot. Blew a 24-6 lead and have now conceded 91 points in their last 3 games as well as losing 4 from their last 5. Their next 5 include Rabbits, Knights, Storm and Roosters so they could be out of contention for the 8 after that, if they aren’t already.

13. Cronulla Sharks. (13th) Down 5 spots. Maybe took the Dogs a little lightly but deserved to be down at half time. A shoulder charge sin-binning didn’t help their cause, although they didn’t leak any points during this time. Had around 10 try scoring opportunities and a mountain of 6 agains but couldn’t get the job done. This team is in trouble on and off the field.

14. Canterbury Bulldogs. (16th) Up 2 spots. A fantastic opening 20 where they built an 18 point lead and then did really well to repel the Sharks again and again, stopping at least 3 try scoring opportunities in the first half. Their 2nd half defensive effort was outstanding despite a weight of possession against them. An outstanding win.

15. Wests Tigers. (14th) Down 3 spots. After establishing an early lead they were simply flogged, as Manly ran in 40 unanswered points. Conceded 35 tackle breaks and just looked awful. Had a better completion rate and less errors than the opposition, but obviously these stats mean nothing. Dragons next in Wollongong.

16. Brisbane Broncos. (15th) Down 3 spots. Didn’t handle the humidity as well as their opposition and it took it’s toll after staying with Parra for the first 25min. Dropping the kickoff didn’t help and they were punished for it straight away. Just not good enough to match it with the top teams yet.

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