Sydney: The Brisbane Broncos cruised to their third straight victory with a 36-10 hammering of high-riding Manly Sea Eagles in Australia`s National Rugby League on Sunday.
The impressive win was just what the Broncos faithful needed after a week that started with the NRL announcing it would investigate potential salary cap irregularities at the Broncos.
It is also consolation for Queensland`s mid-week loss to NSW in the State of Origin at the same Brisbane ground.
Origin stars were scarce after Brisbane lost Justin Hodges (ankle), and Manly`s Anthony Watmough (biceps) and Daly Cherry-Evans (knee) pulled out of Sunday`s club match.
However, Brisbane included fit-again back-rower Sam Thaiday in a full-strength forwards pack in his first game in six weeks. The Sea Eagles heralded the return of Kieran Foran and Jamie Lyon.
In Sunday`s other game in Auckland, skipper Simon Mannering celebrated a double milestone with two tries as the New Zealand Warriors thumped the Newcastle Knights 38-18.
Kiwi Test back-rower Mannering scored both his tries in the first half in his 200th NRL match and his 100th as captain.
The win continued the momentum the Warriors have built under new coach Andrew McFadden. They have now won four of their past five matches to be within two points of the top eight.
Canterbury Bulldogs lead the competition by two points after having the weekend off with a bye. Cronulla Sharks, Gold Coast Titans and Wests Tigers also had byes.
The Penrith Panthers are second after a comprehensive 38-12 win Friday over Parramatta, who badly missed NSW`s Origin hero Jarryd Hayne. He was rested after his mid-week man-of-the-match performance.
A James Maloney-inspired Sydney Roosters swept away Canberra 26-12 Saturday, with NSW winger Daniel Tupou scoring three tries for the Roosters and all of them set up by axed Blues playmaker Maloney.
Maloney also scored a try and did not miss a kick in five shots at goal.
The late inclusion of skipper Cameron Smith could not save injury-ravaged Melbourne Storm as they were thrashed 22-0 by North Queensland in Townsville Saturday.
The Cowboys` State of Origin quartet of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou and Brent Tate all backed up as North Queensland ran in four tries to nil.
The carnage of the Origin opener badly disrupted the Storm, with Test stars Billy Slater (shoulder) and Cooper Cronk (broken arm) both ruled out, while Smith overcame a high ankle sprain and was named at scrum-half.
South Sydney and St George Illawarra complete the round on Monday.