SYDNEY - Manly jumped above Melbourne into third spot and claimed their first top-four scalp of the season on the back of an electrifying first-half display at Brookvale Oval on Saturday.
Winger David Williams bagged a first-half hat-trick as a switched on Manly overcame an early injury setback to back-rower Jamie Buhrer to score the first 20 points on their way to a 28-8 victory.
The Sea Eagles, who needed to win by 11 to clamber above the Storm on the NRL ladder, scored all six of their tries down Melbourne's left-hand side, in arguably their best performance of the season.
The margin might have been greater if captain and centre Jamie Lyon hadn't had a wayward night with the boot — missing five of his seven kicks at goal.
Manly, who had drawn with Melbourne earlier this season and lost twice to both the pacesetting Rabbitohs and Roosters, underlined their title credentials.
Starting Saturday's penultimate round NRL game two points behind the third-placed Storm, Manly produced a scorching start, piling on 12 points in the first 13 minutes.
Fullback Brett Stewart crossed twice before leaving the ground late in the game.
A besieged and uncharacteristically mistake-ridden Melbourne looked rattled in the first quarter.
The Sea Eagles performed with pace precision and confidence despite losing back-rower Buhrer after little more than 70 seconds.