South Sydney have steamrolled the creaking Warriors 30-10 in Auckland to amplify claims they are the form team in the NRL.
In a game controlled by the power of the Burgess brothers and skill from a host of in-form teammates, the Rabbitohs made it six wins from their past seven matches with their dominant performance at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.
They climb inside the top three for the first time this season, displacing a Warriors team who have suffered three thrashings in their past five games.
Saturday night’s win was built on a purple patch midway through the first half when the visitors scored four of their five tries in the space of 17 minutes.
The Warriors had their share of chances but were largely devoid of creativity without injured specialist halfbacks Shaun Johnson and Mason Lino.
Blake Green, who shifted to halfback, was identified as the heartbeat of the Warriors attack by Souths coach Anthony Seibold, whose team shut the playmaker down.
Seibold said the Bunnies’ performance compared with this month’s upset of the competition-leading Dragons but he was keen for his players to stay grounded.
“We’re certainly improving, and that’s the thing that we’re looking for,” Seibold said.
“But as soon as we take our eye off the footy, so to speak, we won’t get the performance we’re looking for.”
The Warriors enjoyed their best period in the opening 10 minutes, crossing through prop Agnatius Paasi on the back of four penalties.
Tom Burgess paid for his team’s infringing with a stint in the sin bin and he was later placed on report for an attempted trip.
However, it was while they were down to 12 that Souths took command, crossing through George Burgess and Robert Jennings in quick succession.
The excellent Greg Inglis bagged the third try and Tom Burgess burst through Simon Mannering’s ineffective tackle to put the visitors up 22-6 at halftime.
The scoring dried up when rain arrived in the second half.
John Sutton crossed for Souths and Solomone Kata for the hosts while both teams had further players spend time in the sin bin in a game featuring 25 penalties.
Tohu Harris (Warriors) and Sam Burgess (Souths) cooled their heels for relatively innocuous offences.
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said next week’s bye has arrived at an opportune time.
“Overall, it’s been a common theme where teams come in here, bring their best game of footy and physically we couldn’t match it with them tonight,” he said.
“That’s something we need to address.”
The Warriors’ best was captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who played despite his partner expecting the arrival of their first child.
The fullback ran for a game-high 191m and made a memorable try-saving tackle on Campbell Graham.
He hobbled off late with a lower leg complaint which wasn’t deemed serious by Kearney.
For Souths, Angus Crichton and Damien Cook further enhanced their NSW Origin selection claims with standout displays.