The Maitland Pickers cashed in fully to smash Kurri Kurri 48-6 after Bulldogs coach Mitch Cullen was sent off in the 12th minute at Maitland Sportsground on Saturday.
The much awaited Coalfields clash was effectively over with Cullen's dismissal for high contact on Maitland centre Matt Soper-Lawler.
But it was already clear by the ninth minute when Pickers wing Perry Le Brocque had run in two tries on his way to a first-half hat-trick, and Bulldogs five-eighth Nathan Ross was sidelined with a knee injury that the result was only going to go one way.
No team could recover from such a disastrous start and the Bulldogs trailed 30-0 at the break, but the reality from the opening exchanges was the Pickers were playing at a different level and were in no mood to show any mercy to a side which had held the upper-hand over them in clashes over the past decade.
This was disciplined, clinical football based on forward pack domination, led by Jayden Butterfield who played for a 60 bone-jarring minutes, and a backline able to move the ball quickly and cleanly to create line breaks and score across the park.
Pickers fans savoured every one of their side's nine tries and cast their minds back a decade to the premiership year of 2011 as probably the last time they had such an emphatic win over the Bulldogs, who scored a consolation try by Mick Steele under the posts in the 77th minute.
Premierships are not won in June and Maitland coach Matt Lantry was quick to remind his players to maintain their focus and not look forward beyond the next game at home against Wyong.
"It was a nice quality performance, but we can't get ahead of ourselves and need to just look at the next seven days ahead," Lantry said.
Premierships are also about depth and reserve grade kept the pressure on for spots in the top 17 with a 50-0 wins. Promoted to the wing, after injury to Matt Allwood, Kyle Kingston scored a try to celebrate his Maitland first grade debut.
Lantry said he was delighted that the team had been able to maintain the standards they had set in last week's top of the table clash win against Central.
"We needed to make sure we were disciplined in all areas and that was both in our general discipline but also how we executed with the control of the footy, the field position we gave Kurri," Lantry said.
"Our middle third has laid the platform all year for us to play some good footy off and it was nice to see our bench contribute with some really big minutes today as well.
"Kurri would have wanted to come here and turn it into a real dog fight, force us into errors, basically turn us away from the way we would have liked to.
"We didn't allow that which is where I was most impressed with our guys. It was a professional, thorough performance. We maintained our standards and stuck to it with our discipline and it paved the way for a really good win."
Lantry said prop Butterfield was sensational in the middle to be best on ground, with Brenton Horwood and Peter Wilson also turning in fine performances.
He said five-eighth Chad O'Donnell had probably his best game for the season and it was great to see Kingston perform so well in his first game of first grade for Maitland.
"Kyle is a quality kid and we're looking forward to him having a big future here and it was a great effort by Perry (Le Brocque) to finish off so well with a hat-trick."
The Pickers, with a game in hand, share top spot on the Newcastle RL ladder with Cessnock on 16 points. Central are on 14 and play Wyong at home today.
Maitland 48: Tries: Perry Le Brocque (4', 9', 32') 3, Pat Mata'utia (17'), James Bradley (25'), Kyle Kingston (32'), Brenton Horwood (48'), Brock Lamb (56'), Matt Soper-Lawler (63'). Conversions: Lamb 6/9
Kurri Kurri 6: Tries: Michael Steele (77'). Conversions: Ethan Niszczot.