Penrith have given themselves the best pre-Origin platform of any defending premiers in more than a decade after blowing away North Queensland 22-0.
In another clinical night for the Panthers, the hosts dominated ball, territory and the scoreboard to swat away another genuine contender for the third time in three weeks.
The Bluebet Stadium result ended North Queensland's six-match winning streak, but not before 80 minutes of defensive resilience from the Cowboys.
It also ensured the Panthers would enter the State of Origin period four points clear at the top, ahead of a series in which they could lose as many as seven players to NSW.
The club's 11-1 record is the best of any team entering the Origin period since St George Illawarra back in 2011, as is their gap at the top.
"This is our first go at being premiers," coach Ivan Ivan Cleary said.
"Everyone tells you that everyone gets up when they play you, and that's exactly what's happened from the very first game.
"Our boys have handled that so well."
Dally M leader Isaah Yeo was again Penrith's best, while Jarome Luai impressed and Nathan Cleary ran the game with ease.
The only concern for NSW coach Brad Fittler could be a potential late shoulder charge from five-eighth Luai on Scott Drinkwater.
But outside of that, the Panthers have now beaten second-placed Melbourne, seventh-placed Sydney Roosters and third-placed North Queensland in the three weeks since their only loss of the year to Parramatta.
Their biggest challenge now looms, after they entered the Origin period at 12-0 last year before they spluttered through the next two months.
"We're probably a little bit more aware of it this year," Cleary said.
"Just the experience around things like, you don't realise how different training is for six weeks when these guys are gone or come in for a bit and are gone on."
Penrith's first try on Friday night came through Yeo when Apisai Koroisau darted out of dummy-half and put the lock through to score.
The next came when Izack Tago broke down the left edge after some nice work from Viliame Kikau and Jarome Luai, before a speculator pick-up helped Dylan Edwards cross.
Another try came when they stripped the Cowboys for numbers and Brian To'o crossed before halftime.
Five-eighth Luai put Taylan May over for Penrith's only try in the second half.
Luai aside, the other worry for Penrith will be whether Kikau is charged over a late shot and dangerous throw.
North Queensland were not as bad the scoreboard suggested.
They completed at just 60 per cent but were barely given a chance to get on the attack as the Panthers controlled almost all the ball on the Cowboys' line.
"I am disappointed we didn't fire our best shot," coach Todd Payten said.
"We also weren't allowed to at different stages (with the way Penrith played). But playing at 58 per cent is not good enough to keep you in the competition.
"I really enjoyed some of our defensive resilience though. We just looked comfortable for the most part defending."
Australian Associated Press
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