Wests Tigers 6 Melbourne Storm 28
From bad to worse: Robbie Farah and the Wests Tigers have endured a week from hell. Photo: Getty Images
A week of in-fighting, bad press and now one of their own coming back to haunt them. If the Tigers thought the past eight days had been hard, they probably didn't count on one-time Tiger Town cult hero Marika Koroibete rubbing a fresh dose of salt into the widening wound.
But that's exactly what Fijian flyer Koroibete did, bagging two tries against his old employers after trading in Sydney for the Storm just six weeks ago to complement another five-star performance from Cooper Cronk.
The result did little to suggest the make-up of the NRL's top eight will change dramatically over the final five rounds as the in-form Storm opened up a four-point gap to the 12th-placed Tigers.
Craig Bellamy's men have never been beaten in three trips to Campbelltown Sports Stadium - and wont be if Cronk and company replicate this type of form in south-west Sydney on future trips.
The visitors raced in five unanswered tried either side of half-time, reigniting their top four hopes as they vaulted the Cowboys and Warriors into equal fifth with the Bulldogs on 26 points after their third straight win.
Koroibete engaged in a Jekyll and Hyde battle with the Tigers' late call-up Sitaleki Akauola in the first half before Cronk terrorised the joint venture with four try assists.
In this vintage form, Mal Meninga must surely be pondering what could have been if the Queensland general hadn't broken his arm in the first 10 minutes of the opening State of Origin match.
He had his fair share of willing helpers too. Ben Roberts was much more diamonds than rocks alongside Cronk in the halves and Will Chambers pierced a retreating Tigers line almost at will.
The Tigers? They were spirited early in the Simon Dwyer tribute match, but must somehow tame the Cowboys next weekend on what is the toughest road trip in the NRL at the moment to somehow salvage a season which had so much promise.
They could be without Pat Richards too, who hobbled off with a hamstring complaint. At least they might have Luke Brooks back, a shoulder injury forcing him to miss his first match of the season, prompting Curtis Sironen to shift into the halves.
But the first half was more a tale of two wingers as the hosts' Akauola and ex-Tiger Koroibete engaged in a 40-minute try-swapping expedition.
Akauola, who was to start in the second row according to the official team sheet but moonlighted on the left wing and finished the match on report, capitalised on a Sisa Waqa brain snap to post first points for the Tigers.
Raiders recruit Waqa needlessly offloaded forward close to his own goalline after pouching a bomb, the Tigers subsequently punishing the Storm on the next set when Akauola muscled his way past his opposite to touch down.
If Koroibete at least attempted to use his body to deny Akauola, the latter didn't have an opportunity to do the same as Melbourne's mid-season pick-up scored twice in the space of four minutes.
He can largely thank Roberts for the first after his inch-perfect kick found Koroibete in acres of space, moments before the winger steamrolled a hapless Mitchell Moses on the line for his brace after Cronk's air mail special.
Cronk went long to set up Koroibete's second, but his sumptuous short pass to a marauding Chambers was even better to pad the Storm's lead four minutes before the break.
If there was any doubt about the result at the break, Cronk quickly erased that. He kicked for Waqa to redeem himself as he leapt high above Simona who was shifted to Richards' wing and then he threw the final pass for Cameron Smith after a free-flowing move.