Cronk on song as Roosters hammer Knights

Melbourne, March 25, 2018 (AFP) - - Test scrum-half Cooper Cronk set up two tries and scored one to win the battle of the No.7s with former Rooster Mitchell Pearce in the Sydney Roosters' 38-8 National Rugby League win over the Newcastle Knights on Sunday.

Pearce was among four former Roosters in the Knights' line-up but only one of them, second-rower Aidan Guerra, managed to score against his old club.

The win was the Roosters' second in a row and they will next face the unbeaten New Zealand Warriors side, who are having their best start in their 24-year history.

Two drop goals by Kiwi scrum-half Shaun Johnson earned the Warriors a pulsating come-from-behind 20-19 victory over the Canberra Raiders.

Down by seven points with five minutes left, a try to Issac Luke before Johnson's two drop goals gave the Warriors their first 3-0 start in club history.

English international Gareth Widdop and new signing Ben Hunt put the Gold Coast Titans to the sword in a 54-8 thumping that left St George Illawarra Dragons as the early competition leaders on Sunday.

A contentious penalty gifted the Brisbane Broncos a 9-7 golden point victory over the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown Stadium.

Wests Tigers were howling after the match following a decision to whistle a penalty against Robbie Rochow for not being square at marker while chasing down a drop goal attempt.

Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako kicked the penalty goal to win the game for Wayne Bennett's team.

Defending champions Melbourne Storm finished strongly to again beat the North Queensland Cowboys 30-14 in their grand final rematch in Melbourne.

While not as decisive as the Storm's 34-6 margin to claim the 2017 premiership title, it was enough to put Storm back in the winners' list after dropping a game to Wests Tigers the previous week.

The Storm overpowered the Johnathan Thurston-led Cowboys in the final 20 minutes, scoring four-tries-to-two.

The Penrith Panthers paid dearly for their 20-18 loss to the Canterbury Bulldogs with their star goalkicking scrum-half Nathan Cleary suffering a serious knee injury and to be sidelined for 10 weeks.

rsm/amz