Keith Lulia equalled the club record of four tries but it was the stars of generation next who helped the Wests Tigers stun the Bulldogs 46-18 in one of the joint venture's greatest victories on Sunday afternoon.
Mitchell Moses, Luke Brooks and Curtis Sironen – high school friends from Holy Cross Ryde – in combination with Blake Austin and Lulia, destroyed the competition frontrunners in an nine-try-to-three demolition at ANZ Stadium.
The loss could come at a price for the Bulldogs after Tim Browne was taken to hospital with a depressed skull fracture suffered in the second half.
The 28-point victory could not have come at a better time for under-siege coach Mick Potter, whose future has been under a dark cloud for the past week as the club completed a review of its structures.
But his side's inspiring performance may have just saved his job – at least for the rest of this season. "I'd be pleased with that result anytime but this week is particularly pleasing," Potter said. "Our players played out of their skin and I can't be any more happy with them ... I just need to get on with what I do and try not to be distracted by outside influences. I'm not going to change for anyone outside just because of pressure. I won't be compromising with what I do with the team. The team responds really well to what we do. We got a great result today."
The 27-year-old Lulia, who Potter brought back to the NRL from the English Super League this season, had a field day outside of the young Tigers back line. Lulia equalled Marika Koroibete (2012) and Kevin McGuinness' (2002) club record for most tries in a game.
"Keith's been in and out of first grade this year," Potter said. "He's performed in NSW Cup and he's done OK for us, but that was a great performance from him. His finishing ability was just second to none. A couple of those tries he scored, not too many people can do that sort of stuff."
But the real shining light was man-of-the-match Moses, playing in just his third NRL game in an unfamiliar role at fullback.
Moses, who spent his juniors playing alongside Brooks in the halves, had a hand in six of the Tigers' tries on a memorable afternoon for the joint venture, which celebrated its 15th anniversary on Tuesday night. While Moses was sublime for the Tigers, Potter says the pocket rocket has plenty of improvement in his game. "He's a good young man and I don't think you've seen the best of him," he said.
"He's a player with a lot of potential. I know that word gets thrown around a lot, but he showed a bit of that today. I'm really happy that he's in our team and he's going to be here for a while.
"He's always been a confident kid and always plays his hand. He's not shy and he's got very good vision. He knows where to be at the right place at the right time. It's no coincidence that he came up with those stats."
After such a brilliant defensive effort against Melbourne to claim a 6-4 win on the road last weekend, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler was gutted with the effort his side dished out against the previously out-of-sorts Wests Tigers.
"We weren't good today – I will acknowledge that – but we should have beaten Wests Tigers," Hasler said. "I didn't think they played particularly well but they took their chances. It's one we've got to put behind us. They are a very, very disappointed playing group. The nine tries [conceded] is disappointing."