James Maloney has staked a claim for a State of Origin recall after engineering Penrith to a desperate 19-10 NRL upset of a depleted Sydney Roosters.
Just days after NSW lost the series opener without him, Maloney set up all three of the Panthers' tries on Sunday in a vintage display.
Last year's Blues five-eighth might come into calculations for Origin II in Perth as coach Brad Fittler searches for ways to send the series to a decider.
And the 32-year-old reminded selectors of his worth with a man-of-the-match effort alongside NSW No.7 Nathan Cleary in a gritty win.
He iced his performance, which included a critical 40-20, with a late field goal in what coach Ivan Cleary admitted was his best display of the year.
"For sure. You could say that about a bunch of them, I thought, but Jimmy was very good tonight," Cleary said.
Told that it was a timely message before game two, Cleary said: "Yeah, well, thing is with Jimmy, he's been there before. And he's done it before.
"I guess he could sense that."
The Roosters were in the contest for the opening hour despite being without Latrell Mitchell, Angus Crichton, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Luke Keary.
But, with his team holding a delicate two-point lead with 20 minutes remaining, Maloney grubbered on a dime for rookie Brent Naden to claim a crucial try.
The defeat for the defending premiers was their third in succession - their longest losing streak in three years - although they remain in third spot.
Playing in front of their biggest crowd of the year, the Panthers flew off the blocks when Maloney put a barnstorming Viliame Kikau over in the second minute.
They should've doubled the advantage when Dylan Edwards broke into the backfield, but threw his pass forward to a supporting Cleary.
A signature Daniel Tupou try reduced the deficit to two points at halftime.
The game turned when Joseph Manu was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 48th minute, and Kikau crossed for his second not long after.
Despite being down a man, the Roosters responded through Victor Radley.
But Maloney sealed the win with a field goal in the closing stages, and the Panthers held on for their third-straight victory.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson refused to use their mass changes as an excuse.
"That's never the excuse. We just haven't handled the last three games as well as what we would've liked," he said.
"I thought we were a good chance to win the game today. We just couldn't find that bit of a break to get on top.
"I thought when (Butcher) went through and passed it to (Radley), that was a really good moment with 12 men.
"We just needed to use that, but we kept giving it back."