Reigning champions Melbourne Storm left no one in doubt they are up for the National Rugby League title fight with a record-breaking win over the Canberra Raiders on Sunday.
As the Sydney Roosters displaced South Sydney at the top of the league standings, the Storm flexed their premiership muscles -- handing the Raiders their biggest-ever loss in a 68-4 flogging in Canberra.
Canberra stay seventh on the ladder, but a run of 12 straight home wins came to a shuddering halt.
"It wasn't so much of a statement ... everyone's been talking about we haven't won too many games the last six weeks, we just needed to get back and play the way Melbourne Storm can play," said skipper Cameron Smith.
The Roosters are the new premiership leaders after seeing off a injury-hit Penrith 42-6 on Friday to effectively end the Panthers' finals hopes.
South Sydney lost the outright competition lead when they crashed 30-12 to the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville on Saturday.
The Cowboys have been hit by the death of former coach Graham Murray, the board's termination of coach Neil Henry's contract for 2014 and a season-ending injury to retiring loose forward Dallas Johnson.
But they responded in the best possible way -- defeating the Rabbitohs for the first time since 2009 and keeping their slim finals hopes alive.
It was a horror night for the Rabbitohs, with forward Jeff Lima placed on report for late contact on Test standoff Johnathan Thurston. And captain John Sutton was helped from the field with an ankle sprain that may keep him out for several weeks.
The hapless Parramatta Eels slumped to their 10th successive defeat against Manly on Saturday as the Sea Eagles romped to a 40-6 win.
The losing streak is the Eels' worst since 1995. With visits to Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne in their last four matches, their long-suffering supporters could well be waiting until next year to see their team win a game.
Cronulla made light of adversity on Saturday to hold off a late New Zealand Warriors fight-back and close out an 18-14 win in Auckland that consolidated their position in the top eight.
Brisbane and Newcastle played out an 18-all draw in Newcastle on Friday.
Knights captain Jarrod Mullen missed with four drop goal attempts in 10 crazy minutes of extra time, while Broncos halves Peter Wallace and Ben Hunt were also denied in golden point extra time as the match ended in a stalemate.
Gold Coast ended their losing run in style with a comprehensive 36-6 victory over Wests Tigers at home on Sunday.
St George Illawarra and Canterbury finish off the round on Monday.