Six Again: Dragons signed two of the best

First tackle: Season's best signings

If there was a Dally M category for 'Season's Best Signing' then James Maloney would hold a sizeable lead at this point, but it's not a one-man race. Maloney has been the backbone of the Panthers' success this year, even with Nathan Cleary out injured, but it's the Dragons who sit atop the ladder thanks largely to two of their 2018 signings.

Ben Hunt arrived at St George Illawarra with a world of expectation on his shoulders after inking a reported $1million-a-year contract to leave the Broncos. He has taken the reins at the Dragons and has steered them to seven wins from eight games, with the big-spending Roosters their latest victims on Anzac Day.

The other reason the Dragons are travelling so well is the inspirational form of front-row forward James Graham. Graham left the Bulldogs last year after they made two major mistakes with him. Firstly, they back-ended his contract to the point where they couldn't afford to keep him this year. Their salary cap incompetence means they are still paying a reported $600k of his $1million salary, making the $400k the Dragons are paying an absolute bargain for a player of his calibre.

The other mistake the Bulldogs made was in naming Graham captain. Graham leads best by example; as captain of the Bulldogs he burnt up way too much mental energy arguing with the referees. At the Dragons he has been allowed to play his own game without distraction. He is leading the pack with aggression, enthusiasm and the kind of workload that is helping Hunt make such a big difference in the halves.

Second tackle: Fullbacks full of talent

Did we see the future stars of State of Origin collide in the 15th minute of Manly's clash with Newcastle? Knights fullback and Queenslander Kalyn Ponga used some of his incredible footwork five metres out from the Sea Eagles line and lunged over for what looked like a certain try. Sea Eagles fullback and New South Welshman Tom Trbojevic flung himself at Pongo in a desperate tackle, dislodging the ball in the process to prevent the four-pointer.

With Billy Slater, Darius Boyd and Greg Inglis nearing the end of their careers, the fullback position for Queensland will open up in the next couple of years and Knights coach Nathan Brown believes Ponga is already primed for the step up.

Incumbent Blues fullback James Tedesco has struggled to impress after switching to the Roosters at the start of the season and the calls have already gone out for Trbojevic to replace him. I'm sure it won't be long before these two young stars are battling it out on the Origin stage.

Third tackle: Green machined by Raiders

So it seems the uncertainty over coach Paul Green's future at the club wasn't the problem with the Cowboys. After he put pen to paper on a new deal two weeks ago they promptly managed a much-needed victory over the Titans but this week they returned to their struggles against the Raiders.

After beating the Sharks in the season opener, the Cowboys have only that win against the Titans to show for their next seven games. It is often said that defence is about attitude, and the Cowboys have a serious attitude problem. Green sees indecision in attack as his main concern.

"We are in two minds at the moment in a lot of areas, we manage to find the wrong decision at the moment," Green said after the loss to Canberra.

"Across the board we need to simplify things and get back to what we do best."

It doesn't get any easier for them either with the Panthers, Tigers, Rabbitohs and Storm lined up to test their resolve.

Green may need more than a backline shuffle to turn things around, he needs his players to rediscover the tackle-your-heart-out attitude they had on their march to last year's grand final.

Fourth tackle: Rabbitoh in the headlights

Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker started the game against the Broncos well, scoring the opening try after six minutes but late in the game, when the pressure was on and the Rabbitohs needed some magic, he had a horror five minutes.

With around 10 minutes to go, he grabbed a Broncos grubber kick right on his dead ball line before slipping over it to guarantee six more tackles to Brisbane. The ball was so clearly going dead that he almost reached over the line to grab it.

When the Rabbitohs next had the ball he backed up a John Sutton break, drew the Broncos fullback and passed the ball five metres behind the two players supporting him. It took the steam out of the Rabbitohs' fight back with the minutes ticking away.

With the game all but over, he partly redeemed himself by getting away with a blatantly forward short ball that saw Sutton dive over for a consolation try. At his best Walker is one of the stars of the game, but the Rabbitohs can't afford his fade-outs.

Fifth and last: Storming back

After a sluggish start to the season, coach Craig Bellamy appears to have found the magic switch to have the Storm firing again. Despite all the wraps on young Brodie Croft as he stepped into the empty boots of Cooper Cronk, his relegation to reserve grade has seen the Storm find their best form. As if to emphasise the point, his replacement Ryley Jacks scored the first and last of their eight tries during a crushing victory over New Zealand Warriors.

The Warriors were expected to put up a great fight in Melbourne on Anzac Day, but they withered under the unrelenting Storm attack, letting in six first-half tries. The Storm were back to their clinical best with Billy Slater and Josh Addo-Carr looking dangerous every time they had the ball.

It's hard to know how much we should downgrade the Warriors' premiership chances after that performance, but clearly Melbourne Storm are right back in the running to defend their title.

Handover: The slippery charge continues

The struggling Eels have now won as many games as pre-season premiership hotshots, the North Queensland Cowboys. They have also drawn level with the Canterbury Bulldogs and Manly Warringah Sea Eagles on two wins and are only two victories behind the Sydney Roosters and a place in the top eight. They still sit at the bottom of the ladder on for and against, thanks largely to that 54-0 loss at Brookvale, so they still have one hand firmly on the wooden spoon.

There was a lot to like about their performance against the Tigers. With the lead changing five times during the match it would have been easy for the early season Eels to let in back-to-back tries and fade out of the contest. To their credit they fought back and answered the Tigers each time.

They face the Sharks, Warriors, Bulldogs and Broncos in coming weeks and will have to win the majority of those games to maintain momentum towards an unlikely spot in the finals.