Former Queensland State of Origin star Dave Taylor has emerged as a potential game-breaker for Canberra following the closest opening three weeks in almost half a century.
Playing in his first NRL match in 561 days, a reborn Taylor provided a spark off the bench for the Raiders in their 46-6 annihilation of Wests Tigers on Sunday.
The 28-year-old carried the ball eight times for 81m in a typically rampant 37-minute cameo, earning post-game praise from coach Ricky Stuart.
"I've been impressed with David how he's really committed to the task of wanting to be an NRL player again on and off the field. He's deserved his spot here," Stuart said.
"It was up to him to show the players that he was going to commit and want to become a Raider. I was very pleased for him because he has really worked hard over the pre-season.
"I was really happy for him that he got some good touches and made some good, tough runs. He did all the little things right."
Taylor's comeback gives the title heavyweights yet another big weapon in what shapes as one of the tightest competitions in 44 years.
Not since 1973 has every team secured at least one win in the opening three rounds.
Canberra were one of four teams that entered round three without getting on the scoresheet, including under-fire clubs Canterbury, Gold Coast and Manly.
An under-strength Bulldogs outfit bounced back with a strong 24-12 win over the Warriors, while a similarly depleted Gold Coast ended Parramatta's undefeated start 26-14.
But it was the Sea Eagles who claimed one of the upsets of the early season, with besieged skipper Daly Cherry-Evans orchestrating a sorely needed first win over North Queensland.
In other matches, champion fullback Billy Slater made a successful return from twin shoulder surgeries in Melbourne's fiery 14-12 win over Brisbane.
South Sydney got the chocolates over Newcastle despite George Burgess sin-binned for a flagrant elbow, while the Sydney Roosters got lucky with a two-point escape over Penrith.
In the final game of the round, St George-Illawarra left defending premiers Cronulla with two losses in their opening three games with a 16-10 triumph.
The Storm and Roosters are the only two teams undefeated heading into round four.