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Sydney City Roosters crush Cronulla Sharks 40 - 0

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson hailed Mitchell Pearce's fighting spirit after the maligned halfback rebounded from his State of Origin flop to pilot the NRL heavyweights to a crushing 40-0 win over Cronulla on Saturday night.

Pearce set up three tries and had a hand in another as the Roosters piled on seven unanswered four-pointers to consolidate their position in the top two with a record-equalling fifth shut-out of the season.

"Champions don't stay down for long. He's such a fighter," Robinson said.

"We talked about the spotlight he put on himself on Wednesday night. Obviously he came up a bit short for NSW and he was under it again and he came out and performed.

"You can't create those qualities. You can improve skills and stuff, but not those qualities.

A Roosters 40  beat Sharks 0. Image credit. NRL
"That's why everybody in our club jumped behind him, because we knew he produces for us. That's what he does."

Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello he wasn't surprised by Pearce's five-star display.

"I got a phone call from him this morning. He was pumped to play and it showed out there," he said.

"He controlled the team and threw some nice passes for tries and his kicking was great. It was a really good effort. He was outstanding."

Running off Pearce, NSW back-rower Boyd Cordner bagged a tryscoring double, while fellow Blues teammates James Maloney and Michael Jennings also stood up as Robinson's side joined the Roosters' class of 1977 as the only other team in premiership history to have kept opposition sides scoreless five times in a single season.

Sidelined with a hamstring injury, superstar Sonny Bill Williams missed his first match since returning to the NRL this season following his four-year stint in rugby union.

But with Pearce on a mission from the outset, the Roosters utterly dominated the Sharks, who sorely missed injured NSW captain Paul Gallen and Blues back-rower Luke Lewis.

All up, the Sharks had eight regular first-graders unavailable but coach Shane Flanagan refused to blame his casualty ward for the Sharks' heaviest loss of the season.

"As I said to the boys, we didn't have any players making his debut. We had 17 players out there and for me they were 17 first graders," Flanagan said.

"So that's not an excuse."

Pearce put Cordner over for the first try of the night after just two minutes and by halftime the Sharks were already down 28-0.

"It wasn't pretty. They were good and we were bad," Flanagan said.

"I think they're a serious footy team, but we're a lot better than we showed tonight.

"It was a tough night, that's for sure."

Compounding the Sharks' woes, halfback Chad Townsend was placed on report
for a dangerous throw on Roosters captain Anthony Minichiello, while Blues enforcer Andrew Fifita ended the match with a pinched hip.

Jennings limped off with 20 minutes remaining and received treatment for an apparent ankle injury, but Robinson said the Blues centre was struggling with a sty in his eye.

The high-flying Roosters travel to Newcastle next weekend, while Cronulla are home to Penrith.

"We've got to turn it around and we've got to turn it around quick," said Sharks playmaker Todd Carney.

"Because if we don't, we'll be chasing our season in the next few weeks and we don't want to be doing that."

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