The resurgent Manly Sea Eagles will be without calming playmaker Kieran Foran for several weeks after the former Kiwis captain broke his hand in the NRL romp over Brisbane Broncos.
Foran has been key in the form turnaround of the Sydney club, which stormed into the top eight following a thumping 50-6 win over the hapless Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
After starting the season 0-4, Manly has won five from six, including two against the NZ Warriors, with Foran providing a settling head in the No.6 jersey.
But the 30-year-old will spend time on the sidelines over the next few weeks after leaving the field with a suspected fractured hand.
That was the only black mark on an otherwise dazzling display from Manly, with coach Des Hasler describing his side's performance as "near-flawless" as the NRL opened up Magic Round in style.
Dynamic fullback Tom Trbojevic scored two tries, as did winger Jordan Saab - the competition's leading try-scorer, but it's the former who has sparked the Sea Eagles 2021 revival.
A sure-fire State of Origin selection for the New South Wales Blues, "Tommy Turbo" has scored seven tries, 10 try assists and notched none-line breaks in five weeks as Manly have vaulted into playoff contention.
"He is always going to be a threat. He is always going to have that influence on the game. You want those players," said coach Hasler.
But Trbojevic wasn't the only Manly’s standout in their eight-try-to-one rout, with brother Jake Trbojevic solid up front, halfback Daly Cherry-Evans in commanding form and front-rowers Martin Taupau and Taniela Paseka leading the way in the middle of the park.
“I thought Cherry was really good tonight. He played a really smart game of footy,” Hasler said.
“The forwards gave us plenty of momentum, particularly Marty when he came off the bench, and I was particularly pleased with the way some of the younger blokes are progressing too.”
Manly play the Parramatta Eels next week, who are the round 10 opposition for the Warriors on Sunday.
Earlier, the Wests Tigers mauled the Newcastle Knights 36-18 in the Magic Round opener in Brisbane.
Missing nine first-choice starters, Newcastle never threatened the Tigers, who themselves are in the middle of a mini form turnaround, winning their last two games to ease pressure on coach Michael Maguire.
The Knights have just two wins from their last seven games, which is deeply concerning to coach Adam O'Brien, who believes a losing mentality is slipping into the club.
"There is definitely some mental stuff there [with Knights players]," he said.
"You are not always going to have things go your way and you have to wrestle it back.
"We are not willing to do that at the moment. Some of it will be personnel.
"There will be some changes to this club in the next few years. It is clear.
"If we can’t get it then I have to find a way to get it through recruitment.
“There has been 10 years of not having a whole lot of success and three wooden spoons.
"It is ingrained in us and we have got to find a way to get a winning culture in there and do what the teams do that have tasted success and are willing to put themselves through anything.
"We have to learn that. I have seen teams in the past leave no stone unturned do that and we have to be willing to do that."
Saturday will see three games back-to-back as Magic Round rolls on.
The desperate Canberra Raiders play wooden spoon favourites, Canterbury Bulldogs, Cronulla plays South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters take on the North Queensland Cowboys.