Ben Barba inspired the Cronulla Sharks to their 15th consecutive victory with a 36-4 hammering of bottom team Newcastle Knights in Australia's National Rugby League today.
Barba scored two of Cronulla's eight tries to continue his team's winning run and maintain a two-point lead over Melbourne Storm after 18 rounds.
He set up two other tries and had another two tries denied by the video referee.
Melbourne kept within reach of the Sharks with a 26-10 win over the Sydney Roosters at home.
The Storm grabbed two late tries, through Tohu Harris and Kevin Proctor, to ease to victory after they were pushed for much of the contest by the lowly Roosters.
Champions North Queensland are in third spot after a commanding 36-0 win over fellow finals contenders Canterbury Bulldogs in Townsville.
The easy win was marred by a hamstring injury to their inspirational skipper Johnathan Thurston, who could miss the next two matches.
Ricky Stuart's Canberra Raiders fill out the top four after a 26-22 golden point win over the New Zealand Warriors at home. Skipper Jarrod Croker scored the match-winning try in extra time - his third of the game - to seal a fourth consecutive win.
Anthony Griffin enjoyed a triumphant return to Brisbane as Penrith moved into the top eight with a 31-12 win over the Broncos. Griffin was axed two years ago as the Broncos coach making way for the return of Wayne Bennett.
Wests Tigers moved into the post-Robbie Farah era with a 25-12 win over St George Illawarra today.
Tigers coach Jason Taylor made the big call during the week to dump State of Origin hooker Farah to reserve grade and threaten his chances of staying at the club where he has played 247 top grade games.