Canterbury Bulldogs held off the fast-finishing New Zealand Warriors 16-12 to maintain their outright lead in Australia's National Rugby League on Sunday.
It took a desperate tackle from Bulldogs centre Josh Morris on flying scrum-half Shaun Johnson with three minutes left to clinch their seventh straight win in Hamilton, New Zealand.
The Bulldogs lead the competition by four points although the Manly Sea Eagles can reduce that gap when they host Newcastle Knights on Monday.
The Penrith Panthers lie in third spot in the standings after prolonging the Canberra Raiders' woes with a 26-20 win in the national capital on Sunday.
Tensions boiled over in the second half amid several scuffles, but the Raiders have only have themselves to blame for their third straight loss.
The Ricky Stuart-coached Raiders were guilty of too many handling errors.
The much-improved Parramatta Eels are fourth after thumping the St George Illawarra Dragons 36-0 in front of their first sell-out crowd at Parramatta Stadium for more than two years.
Fullback Jarryd Hayne and winger Ken Sio each claimed a brace of tries.
Test fullback Billy Slater found form at the right time, a week before the State of Origin series, after starring in Melbourne's 27-14 win over South Sydney at the Olympic Stadium on Friday.
The Storm and Queensland star has struggled for much of this season but he enjoyed his best game of the season in the tough win over the Rabbitohs.
Slater scored the game's opening try in just the fourth minute, when he chased down a Cooper Cronk kick, and then raced away for a 45-metre second try to put the Storm two converted tries clear in the 57th minute.
Wests Tigers secured a come-from-behind 22-20 win over bottom team Cronulla Sharks, while the North Queensland Cowboys mauled defending champions Sydney Roosters 42-10 in Townsville.
Test stand-off Johnathan Thurston delivered some magic in his 200th game for the Cowboys, laying on three tries, kicking seven goals and scoring a try.
Brisbane Broncos beat the Gold Coast Titans 22-8 at home Friday, ahead of Monday's naming of the Queensland side for the May 28 State of Origin series opener against New South Wales in Brisbane.