Suliasi Vunivalu scored four tries as Melbourne Storm moved closer to sealing a first minor premiership since 2011 by beating fierce rivals Manly Sea Eagles 38-18 at Brookvale Oval on Saturday.
Craig Bellamy's side were beaten by Canberra Raiders on Monday, but responded impressively five days later to go three points clear of Cronulla Sharks at the top of the NRL ladder with only two rounds of the regular season remaining, although the Sharks have played a game fewer.
Flying winger Vunivalu was the star of the show, running in all four of his tries in the first half, while Kenny Bromwich, Cameron Smith and Felise Kaufusi also touched down as Manly slumped to a third consecutive defeat.
Brad Parker touched down twice for the Sea Eagles before Jorge Taufua went over in his 100th NRL game, but that was no consolation for a side that are out of contention for the finals.
Defending champions North Queensland Cowboys ended a three-match losing streak with a 34-6 trouncing of New Zealand Warriors at 1300SMILES Stadium.
Kyle Feldt crossed twice, while Jason Taumalolo, Justin O'Neill, Ray Thompson and Michael Morgan were the Cowboys' other try-scorers in a one-sided encounter.
Captain Ryan James scored two first-half tries as Gold Coast Titans closed in on ending their six-year wait to feature in the finals by beating bottom side Newcastle Knights 26-6 at Hunter Stadium.
Chris McQueen and Luke Douglas also went over, while Tyrone Roberts scored 10 points with the boot against his former club.
Jarryd Hayne was helped off with concussion and also suffered a minor leg injury, but coach Neil Henry revealed the five-eighth should be fit to face Penrith Panthers next weekend.