The Brisbane Broncos ruthlessly ended Parramatta's unbeaten nine-game run with an impressive 23-0 win to move into the top four of Australia's National Rugby League yesterday.
The Broncos, looking a strong title chance over the last couple of weeks, can guarantee a home match in the opening week of the finals with a win over the New Zealand Warriors next week.
Brisbane crushed the Eels with four tries at Parramatta Stadium to edge Newcastle Knights out of fourth spot on points difference.
Parramatta, whose resurgence took them from near the bottom into the top four ahead of this weekend's round, had six first-choice props unavailable through injury and suspension and they were always up against it taking on the big Broncos forward pack.
The Eels slipped to seventh and even a win over 10th-placed North Queensland next week may not be enough for them to avoid a clash with the second-placed Canterbury Bulldogs in the opening week of the finals in a fortnight.
Season discovery Greg Inglis was dynamic as leaders Melbourne Storm downed Canberra Raiders 22-18 in Canberra on Saturday to stretch their competition lead to eight points over the Bulldogs.
Center Inglis beat off three Raiders defenders to set up a try for Matt King and then ran the length of the field for an intercept try near halftime.
Manly scrumhalf Matt Orford pushed his side into third place with a match-winning drop goal in the final minutes to seal a thrilling 21-20 victory over the Bulldogs at Brookvale Oval on Friday.
With the scores level and just two minutes and 10 seconds left, Orford struck the 30m match-winner to seal the result and pushed the Sea Eagles to within two points of the Bulldogs.
Newcastle, playing without suspended skipper Andrew Johns, pounded Penrith Panthers 40-4 at home Saturday to keep in the hunt for a home final.
St George Illawarra are now sixth after downing Cronulla Sharks 18-4 in the wet at home on Saturday.
Standoff Jerome Ropati ran in four tries as the New Zealand Warriors smashed the troubled Sydney Roosters 42-16 in Auckland yesterday to put more pressure on the embattled Roosters' Test coach Ricky Stuart.
North Queensland overcame a drug-tainted week of turmoil to salvage some pride by downing bottom team South Sydney 34-12 in Sydney yesterday.
Cowboys prop Mitchell Sargent was sacked from the club after returning a positive test for cocaine last week.