The Canberra Raiders took a sword to the Dragons' soft underbelly as they repeatedly cut open St George Illawarra's middle.
But more importantly Josh Papalii's AC joint got through unscathed in the Raiders' 37-8 victory at Wollongong on Saturday.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart had the luxury of only using Papalii for the opening 35 minutes before letting him sit out the rest of the game.
It keeps the Green Machine in touch with the top four with two rounds remaining before the finals - the first time the Raiders will play back-to-back finals campaigns since 2004.
Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton continued his brilliant form - scoring a double to make it six tries in four games.
Canberra's middles were all fantastic, with Hudson Young (203 run metres) and Joe Tapine (148m) especially good.
Young suffered bone bruising in the pre-season that set him back before his return from suspension.
Dunamis Lui was again excellent, as he continued to fill the one-on-one stripping hole vacated by Josh Hodgson (knee).
They tore apart their Dragons counterparts, slicing through the middle time and time again.
They've also endured a massive injury toll, adding to the praise from Stuart.
But he said it was unlikely either Corey Horsburgh (foot) or Emre Guler (ankle) would be back this year - unless they go deep into the finals and then Horsburgh might be a chance.
Stuart was also happy with the full 80-minute performance after he was critical of the Raiders' second half last week against the Sydney Roosters.
"It would be [Young's best performance of the season] and he's coming back from a horrific knee injury," Stuart said.
"He's just slowly finding his fluency and rhythm in his running style again.
"Our middles have been our backbone all year and there are so many of those guys there that have taken an extra workload on because of the players we've got sitting on the sideline."
Wighton has become one of the most damaging running halves in the NRL and terrorised the Dragons' right edge - that's when the Raiders middles weren't doing it in the middle as well.
Stuart said there was still plenty of improvement in Wighton, who is not even two years into a shift from fullback to five-eighth.
"It would probably be a very good question for someone like [Broncos great] Darren Lockyer, who has gone from fullback to five-eighth and made it in both positions," he said.
"Jack's a lot younger in his career ... I see the growth and there's a lot more in him. It's a matter of getting that."
The story of the first half was Dragons winger Cody Ramsey, who almost scored a hat-trick in the opening 40 minutes of his NRL debut.
Both he and Raiders winger Semi Valemei were involved in everything early - big hits, tries and almost tries.
Ramsey opened the scoring, getting the better of Valemei first with his footwork and then with his reading of a looping cut-out pass for his second - bringing tears to his mother's eyes.
What would've happened if he had've completed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time is anyone's guess.
There were free beers on offer at the Freemasons Hotel in Ramsey's native Molong for every try the debutant scored.
He stopped a Valemei try with an intercept and ran almost 80 metres, but was called back with Lomax ruled offside as the Green Machine pressed.
Valemei got a try of his own in the second half as the Raiders opened the floodgates.
Dragons centre Zac Lomax'had a tough time with three first-half errors, including a fumble that led to a Young try.
It came from a clear Raiders game plan of attacking the Dragons' middle.
A Nick Cotric try saving intercept turned into a 12-point play, with a George Williams kick bouncing perfectly for Jordan Rapana, who got the offload away for Tapine to produce an offload of his own.
Wighton decided to beat four as he crashed through the middle for his first. His second coming from a nice Williams short pass in the second half.
Their combination is building - as is the Raiders' attack, as they cut loose after the break, turning a 14-8 lead into the final rout.
It's been a horror year for injuries with even the referees copping it - Adam Gee was forced off during half-time with a calf problem bringing Matt Cecchin in to take charge of the game.
Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker, John Bateman, Wighton and Valemei all crossing.
Canberra halfback George Williams got in some field goal practice in the dying minutes to kick his first in the NRL.
The Raiders are starting to build nicely as finals approach, with the New Zealand Warriors and Cronulla to come.
"I still feel as though there are areas in our attack we still have huge improvement on. Whether we get there or not, that's up to the players," Stuart said.
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA RAIDERS 37 (Jack Wighton 2, Hudson Young, Jarrod Croker, John Bateman, Semi Valemei tries; Croker 6 goals; George Williams field goal) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS 8 (Cody Ramsey 2 tries) at Wollongong. Referee: Adam Gee and Matt Cecchin.