NRL leaders Melbourne Storm overcame injuries to Cameron Smith and Billy Slater to dent Canberra Raiders' play-off hopes with a 20-14 victory at GIO Stadium on Saturday.
Leading 12-6 with 30 minutes remaining, the Storm lost Smith to a pectoral strain, while Slater was stretchered off following a late, high challenge from Sia Soliola - the Raiders man fortunate not to see red.
Dale Finucane collected a delightful Nelson Asofa-Solomona offload to get the Storm off the mark, before Aidan Sezer crashed over under the posts to ensure the Raiders trailed by just two at the break.
The sides scored two tries apiece after the interval, including another one each for Finucane and Sezer, but it was the kicking of Cameron Munster after the loss of captain Smith that put daylight between the teams.
Munster converted a penalty early in the half and added the extras to Finucane's second, securing a result that leaves the Storm two clear of Sydney Roosters at the summit, while the Raiders could be six adrift of the top eight by the end of the weekend's play.
Penrith Panthers strengthened their hand in the chase for a place in the play-offs, scoring three second-half tries to record a 24-16 home victory over Gold Coast Titans.
The Panthers' third successive win pulls them level on points with eighth-placed St George Illawarra Dragons, who have a game in hand, and four ahead of this weekend's opponents.
In the day's remaining fixture North Queensland Cowboys climbed to fifth with a 24-12 win against New Zealand Warriors.
Javid Bowen made sure of the win with a breakaway try in the last minute.