The Sydney Roosters showed they can compete with the best in the NRL even without their strike weapons with a 32-12 win over Penrith at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
The Roosters led from start to finish and rarely looked troubled by the Panthers who were disorganised in attack.
Two-try hero Boyd Cordner led the way for the home side while Sonny Bill Williams gutsed out an 80-minute performance despite not being able to eat and drink during the day due to his observation of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.
The Roosters piled on five tries to two despite being without NSW backs Daniel Tupou (back) and Michael Jennings (back).
In an attempt to get his best 17 on the park, Roosters coach Trent Robinson shifted several of his charges out of position, including regular back-rower Aidan Guerra who was moved into the centres.
And Guerra repaid his mentor's faith when he went over for the opening try.
"We had our best side out there," Robinson said. "That was the idea. We've got two State of Origin outside backs out but we made up for it with our best side.
"The fluency in attack wasn't an issue - it was fine; we did enough there.
"It was more about getting our line organised and defending well. It was good for most of the game," Robinson said.
With Peter Wallace and Tyrone Peachey on the sideline, Penrith fielded their third halves combination in three weeks in Jamie Soward and Bryce Cartwright.
Soward handled much of the kicking duties and the Roosters effectively pressured him. Penrith's fifth-tackle options were often poor and they received just one repeat set of six.
The Roosters led 18-0 at halftime and, while the Panthers fought back in the second half, the premiers did enough to get a comfortable win which was vital in their pursuit of a top-four finish.
The tri-colours are in fifth spot, on 24 points, only sitting outside the four on for-and-against, while the Panthers slip to third.
"Any reasonable fan would suggest it was going to be a hard ask on the shortest possible turnaround you can have, playing a night game and a day game in five days, against the premiers who have come off the bye," Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said.
"That was definitely challenging. We've had some injuries too so we're trying to work out combinations. We had another new combination in the halves.
"But we didn't play well enough."
Cleary said Wallace was a chance of returning against Cronulla next Saturday.
The Roosters have no concerns over Mitchell Aubusson, who came off with a shoulder injury following a head clash with teammate James Maloney late in the match.