Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson says his side's NRL revival has begun but Melbourne have established themselves as the NRL benchmark heading into the representative round break.
After 14 rounds, the Storm have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the ladder, giving them a healthy buffer over the Roosters and South Sydney.
In a year in which their hopes were supposed to dive, the Storm have kicked clear of the pack following a Cameron Munster-inspired 34-4 trouncing of Newcastle - who had been pegged as top four contenders.
Having made the last three grand finals - including winning in 2017 - they now look like having all the ingredients to be at ANZ Stadium on October 6.
On a weekend in which the Storm continued their stellar start, fellow contenders the Roosters broke their three-game losing streak with a 38-12 thumping of last-placed Canterbury.
Joey Manu was immense filling in for rested superstar fullback James Tedesco as the Tri-Colours ran in seven tries to two.
While it was difficult to read too much into the result given the Dogs have just three wins and are struggling for confidence, Robinson said it represented an important bounce back for his men.
"I thought it was a start for us," Robinson said when asked if his side was back.
"I don't think anything came easy for us today. I think principally we were really good. We improved as a team and we worked hard for the result.
"But we need more than that."
The Rabbitohs were missing a host of stars including the Sam, Tom and George Burgess and Adam Reynolds as a James Maloney field goal broke their hearts in their 19-18 loss to Penrith at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
It was Wayne Bennett's side's third loss in a row.
On Sunday, Manly continued their inspired start to the season as Tom Trbojevic fired them to a 34-14 win over St George Illawarra, who have lost six of their last seven.
"We're still a little way off the top three - Souths, Roosters and Melbourne," Manly coach Des Hasler said.
"But we're slowly scraping away. Hopefully by the end of the season we might catch them.
Brisbane coach Anthony Seibold admitted his side were embarrassed after their 38-10 rout at the hands of Parramatta which saw the Eels remain in the top eight.
On Friday, North Queensland coach Paul Green was left fuming after his side was on the wrong end of two controversial calls in his side's 27-26 loss to the Wests Tigers in which a Benji Marshall field goal proved the difference.
The Warriors piled on the pain on the under-fire Gold Coast with a 24-20 victory in which Jai Arrow, who has been the Titans' best all year, suffered an ankle injury.
On Thursday, Canberra remained in the top four with a 24-20 win after holding off a Cronulla fightback with winger Nick Cotric going down with an ankle injury.
Australian Associated Press