The Maitland Pickers looked back to somewhere near their dominant best on Saturday afternoon, thumping Central Newcastle 40-12.
In perfect conditions at Maitland Sportsground, the Pickers were a class above Central, fully deserving their seven tries to two victory.
Gavin Quinn scored a double for the two-time defending premiers, while tries to Brendon Horwood, Willie Poleo, Ryan Walker, Billy Towers and Jacob Sinclair sealed the two competition points as the Pickers continue to climb the Newcastle Rugby League ladder.
Maitland got away to a flyer when a short ball from Pickers playmaker Joby Patten put Horwood through a yawning gap 20 metres out in the sixth minute.
The back-rower juggled the pass but held on to stride out and dive over to give the Pickers their early lead.
Dynamic winger Poleo then finished off a slick backline move on the right edge, which included an outstanding flick pass from his centre partner Quinn, and the Pickers raced to a 10-0 lead after 12 minutes of play in the fifth round fixture.
Check out more Stuart Scott photos from the game by clicking the image above.
The match then became quite scrappy, with penalties and plenty of errors contributing to the stop-start affair.
Central opened their account on the half hour mark with a try next to the posts, punishing the Pickers for failing to find touch.
Four minutes later, though, and the Pickers hit back.
A neat shift to the left saw Pickers centre Walker break the line and show good strength, holding off a couple of defenders to score.
The Pickers suffered a setback in the closing stages of the opening stanza when Poleo was injured fielding a short kick in his own in-goal area.
Poleo collapsed to the ground clutching his lower leg and was stretchered from the field, taking no further part in the match.
But there was to be one final moment of brilliance before half-time.
As the siren sounded for the break, Central put a chip over the top, only for the Pickers to regain possession.
From there the Pickers launched another raid down the right side before it appeared Horwood was stripped of possession.
The ball then rolled into the in-goal area where Central failed to ground it and, in typical Towers fashion, the lock followed through and scored the four-pointer.
The try on half-time seemed to deflate Central, with the Pickers holding a commanding 22-6 lead.
The Pickers then went on with it in the second half, adding three more tries to run out comprehensive winners.
Five-eighth Patten backed up his impressive all-round game by having a happy day with the boot, kicking six from seven.
Pickers premiership winning captain PJ Ellis did not don the black and white uniform on Saturday with his renewed contract stating he is unable to participate in regular season matches against Central in 2012.
This agreement was reached on May 3 after Ellis was supposed to captain-coach Central this season but, citing lack of commitment at pre-season training, returned to the Pickers in pursuit of a premiership three-peat.
The Pickers are back in action next round when they host league leaders the Cessnock Goannas in what promises to be an epic Coalfields clash at Maitland Sportsground on Saturday.