Penrith Panthers have sent an ominous warning to the rest of the NRL with an emphatic 32-6 win over Melbourne Storm on Saturday night.
The Panthers scored two tries in the opening 10 minutes and never looked back, powering clear to move to the top of the NRL ladder.
It was the first encounter between the two sides since their preliminary final showdown last year, when the Panthers prevailed in a low-scoring affair.
The defending premiers took advantage of the shorthanded Syrom, who were without injured stars Ryan Papenhuyzen, Reimis Smith and Jahrome Hughes, running in five tries to one at a packed Suncorp Stadium.
The Panthers targeted the Storm's right-edge defence, exposing rookies Cooper Johns and Marion Seve - who were both playing their first game of the season - for the opening two tries to Izack Tago and Viliame Kikau..
After Cameron Munster set up the Storm's only try of the night, Nathan Cleary's bomb was put down under pressure allowing Tago to claim a second and send the Panthers into halftime with a 20-9 lead.
The Storm held on through the early stages of the second half, before Kiaku set up Jarome Luai to dot down, before Stephen Crichton completed the try-scoring in the 62nd minute.
The Panthers move on to face Sydney Roosters on Saturday, while the Storm take on North Queensland Cowboys.
In earlier 'magic round' action, Gold Coast Titans earned a 20-16 golden point win over St George Dragons, while the Warriors' late comeback fell short against the Rabbitohs 32-30.