Tom Trbojevic's stunning season has continued after an 11-minute hat-trick helped Manly sink Cronulla 40-22 and ignited the NRL's top-four race.
In a year littered by sparkling performances, Trbojevic produced another man-of-the-match game with 11 tackle busts and three assists to go with his third hat-trick in four games.
Trbojevic's run is now getting to the point where it could potentially end as one of the great all-time seasons.
Since coming back in round six, he has 18 tries and 21 assists in 11 games for Manly to go with his Wally Lewis Medal for NSW in State of Origin.
With Trbojevic out for the first month, it was inconceivable to think that they could even challenge for the finals.
Now they are two points out of the top four and with a better run home than both the Sydney Roosters and Parramatta.
Next Saturday's clash with Melbourne shapes as one of the games of the season, while a date with the Eels a week later marks their only other top-eight opponent.
"The top four is something we would like to aspire to," coach Des Hasler said.
"All we have to do is keep turning up and keep winning.
"Melbourne will be a really good gauge for us. They are a really good footy side so it'll be a tough game."
For all the concerns over the lopsided nature of the season, the battle at the bottom of the top eight is also wide open.
Cronulla now find themselves clinging onto a spot, sitting eighth but with seventh down to 11th all equal on points in Gold Coast, Canberra, St George Illawarra and Newcastle.
"It's going to be that way to the very end," coach Josh Hannay said.
"There is going to be ups and downs and teams leapfrogging each other to the end.
"We can't be focused on other results. We need to control our own destiny."
The Sharks could also have judiciary dramas with Toby Rudolf sin-binned for a headbutt on Reuben Garrick late before Manly prop Taniela Paseka followed him off for a trip.
After Monday night though, Cronulla will just be happy they don't have to face Trbojevic again in the regular season.
The fullback first injected himself into the game when he and Daly Cherry-Evans put Jason Saab over untouched, before offloading moments later for Morgan Harper to score.
Then after Manly's lead was reduced to 16-10 at halftime, the No.1 shot out of the blocks after the break.
His first came when he ran it on the last and broke through two men, before finding Lachlan Croker, wrapping around, and bursting through three more to score.
Trbojevic's second came after he stepped, dummied and burst through the middle from 40 metres out to score before his last was all power at first receiver from close range.
It earned the 24-year-old an early rest, but not before he laid on one more try for Garrick.
The Sea Eagles' defence remains a concern though ahead of Saturday's heavyweight clash with the Storm, as they let in tries late in both halves.
Will Kennedy and Braydon Trindall both got doubles for the Sharks, slicing Manly open with ease when momentum was on their side.
Australian Associated Press