How the NRL is shaping at the halfway mark


1. St George Illawarra (18 points)

Have surprised all to lead the competition after 13 rounds. After a slow start, the Dragons’ attack is starting to click and they’ve piled on 74 points in the past two weeks.

2. Brisbane (18)

The halves pairing of Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford are beginning to combine beautifully. Their fate will depend on how they negotiate the State of Origin period.

3. North Queensland (18)

Coach Paul Green has found has found a fitting halves partner for Johnathan Thurston in Michael Morgan. Like Brisbane, the Cowboys have a heavy representation in Origin and will be hoping to come out the other side with a clean bill of health.

4. Melbourne (16)

Before their loss to the Sydney Roosters, looked like the competition benchmarks. They have often relied on the Big Three – Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – but have plenty of quality underneath, with Jesse Bromwich and Will Chambers proving this year they are among the best in the world in their respective positions.

5. Sydney Roosters (14)

The bookies’ favourite possess the best roster in the competition. Halves Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney have been big improvers but can go missing in key moments.

6. South Sydney (14)

Flew out of the blocks before an injury to halfback Adam Reynolds led to a dip in form – however they’ve steadied the ship with back-to-back wins. The strength of their outside backs remains their Achilles heel.

7. Warriors (14)

They are unparalleled in their inconsistency and fans never know which Warriors side will turn up on the day. Mercurial halfback Shaun Johnson is key and showing signs he is capable of sustained form.

8. Penrith (12)

What do they say about black cats and bad luck? The Panthers have had their share in 2015 and have battled admirably through an injury crisis this year. If they can get their best 17 on the park come finals time, they can threaten.

9. Canterbury (12)

Have been one of the big underperformers this season and the form of halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds has been indifferent. Have some big names to come back in the next few weeks and are capable of getting on a roll.

10. Canberra (10)

Five-eighth Blake Austin has been one of the finds of the year. Have shot themselves in the foot repeatedly with poor handling and penalties, and South Sydney is the only top-10 side they’ve beaten this year.

11. Wests Tigers (10)

While they are still a young side, the Tigers have been far too hot and cold. Jason Taylor insists Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks aren’t the source of their poor form, but he needs much more out of the pair.

12. Newcastle (10)

Won four straight to start the year but have won one game since. They are desperately missing the direction of Jarrod Mullen but need to rediscover the defensive resolve which served them so well in the opening month of the season.

13. Gold Coast (10)

The Titans’ season got off to a disastrous start with five players hit with drug charges. They’ve lost four games by six points or less, which is why they’re 4-7 and placed where they are.

14. Cronulla (10)

Were diabolical in their 42-6 loss to the Dragons on the weekend and questions are being asked about marquee signing Ben Barba’s place in the team. The return of captain Paul Gallen will inject some starch and they still boast a good pack.

15. Parramatta (8)

Have been disappointing, with big-name signing Anthony Watmough failing to live up to the hype. Jarryd Hayne has been sorely missed this year while halfback Chris Sandow has been erratic.

16. Manly (8)

Have been forced to deal with contract sagas and a heavy injury toll. Have been more competitive in recent weeks but need to quickly rediscover their magic if they are to make the eight.

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