Sydney Roosters trounce Cronulla in NRL

Mitchell Pearce leads Sydney Roosters to victory over Cronulla in National Rugby League

SYDNEY (AP) -- Halfback Mitchell Pearce set up three tries and had a hand in another to lead the Sydney Roosters to a 40-0 win over Cronulla in Australia's National Rugby League, days after shouldering the blame for New South Wales' eighth-straight State of Origin series loss to Queensland.

New South Wales backrower Boyd Cordner scored a double as the Roosters became the first team since 1977 to hold five teams scoreless in a season.

The win consolidated the Roosters' position in second place behind South Sydney on the premiership ladder.

Canberra beat Parramatta 14-0 and the New Zealand Warriors beat Wests 24-14 in other matches in the weekend's 19th round, shortened because of the State of Origin finale. Penrith plays Newcastle and Manly faces Gold Coast on Sunday, while South Sydney meets St. George-Illawarra on Monday.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson hailed Pearce's performance after he bore the brunt of fan disappointment following New South Wales' defeat in the third and deciding Origin match on Wednesday.

"We talked about the spotlight he put on himself on Wednesday night. Obviously, he came up a bit short for New South Wales, and he was under it again and he came out and performed," Robinson said. "You can't create those qualities. You can improve skills and stuff, but not those qualities."

Cronulla was missing New South Wales captain Paul Gallen and backrower Luke Lewis, but coach Shane Flanagan refused to make that an excuse for his team's toughest loss of the season.

"We didn't have any player making his debut," Flanagan said. "We had 17 players out there and for me they were 17 first graders. So that's not an excuse."

Canberra kept an opponent scoreless for the first time in four years and posted its 12th straight win at home in beating Parramatta 14-0.

Captain Terry Campese helped set up the Raiders first two tries in a match played in treacherous conditions after hail, sleet and rain swept Canberra Stadium.

The Warriors trailed 14-6 at halftime, but an outstanding second-half performance from stand-off Shaun Johnson steered the club to victory. Johnson scored the Warriors' first half try and then opened up the Wests' defense and found captain Simon Mannering with a well-placed kick for the match-winning try.

"Shaun's second-half performance, in particular, was really pivotal," Warriors coach Matt Elliott said. "He's starting to learn that the more responsibility he takes on, the better he plays."