They might only be on top temporarily – unless the Bunnies lose, in which they will be first – with a first-class performance by the Sydney Roosters proving far too much for the Penrith Panthers, who were crushed 42-6.
It was a record win for the Roosters, as they recorded their biggest win over the Panthers in their history, in front of a crowd of just over 11,000 at Centrebet Stadium.
It was a tense first-half, with the Roosters not quite asserting their dominance, as Penrith looked to challenge the top sides and keep their faint finals hopes alive.
The second half was a different story, however, as the Roosters put on the afterburners and ran away with the game – five-eighth James Maloney springing back to form with a monumental effort and a man-of-the-match performance.
The news did not get much better for the Panthers, with both Sika Manu and Adam Docker suffering broken hands, with both likely to be out for the remainder of the season.
Penrith actually took the lead early on and were in the cost in the first half, before the Roosters rallied back and took a 12-6 break into HGH half-time.
Penrith had a chance to cut the deficit in the second half after a miraculous play by centre Dean Whare, who put a kick through and found David Simmons, only for the winger to knock the ball on.
Whilst he was pleased with the performance, Roosters coach Trent Robinson knows that his side need eighty minute performances if they are to challenge for the minor premiership.
“In the first half we were not as good as we would have liked, but in the second we were a lot better and I was happy with how we played,” Robinson said.
“Confidence is high, but that doesn’t just roll on from week to week we have to work at it.”
Ivan Cleary was a bit of a dejected coach post-game, with the Panthers boss admitting he had never experienced such a horrific injury toll at a club at any one time.
“The way we’ve been getting them we’ve had a lot of fractures,” Cleary said.
“I thought having Oak as our sponsor we’d have stronger bones but it doesn’t seem to be working out.”
3. James Maloney
2. Boyd Cordner
1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.