Melbourne Storm won the battle of the National Rugby League's only unbeaten teams to emerge 17-10 winners over South Sydney at Sydney's Olympic stadium on Saturday.
The world club champions showed they will again be the team to beat for this season's NRL title with a clinical performance against the much-improved Rabbitohs before almost 33,000 fans.
It was the Storm's greater composure under the scheming control of their influential scrum-half Cooper Cronk that proved the difference in a three tries to two victory.
Melbourne capitalised on South Sydney errors to lead 12-0 at half-time but were outscored 10-5 in the second half as the Rabbitohs tested their defence through the powerful running of the Burgess brothers, Sam and George.
Greg Inglis scored a try for the first time against his old club to get Souths back into the contest at 12-6 in the 48th minute before British standoff Gareth Widdop's slick footwork got him over the try-line six minutes later.
Souths pulled to within a converted try at 16-10 with a try from winger Andrew Everingham eight minutes later, before Cronk kicked a drop goal to open the margin with four minutes remaining.
There was late drama when Storm's Test fullback Billy Slater was sin-binned after a try-saver on flying Rabbitohs winger Nathan Merritt with less than two minutes remaining, but time and a relentless Storm were against the Rabbitohs.
Melbourne, who beat Leeds for the world club championship in February, are now unbeaten in 14 games since last July and are now the only unbeaten team in this season's NRL competition.