Pearce return helps Roosters to easy win
Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaes both made successful returns to the NRL as the Roosters easily accounted for Newcastle 38-0 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
The Roosters halfback showed no signs of rust after missing the first eight games of the season through suspension, kicking for 427 metres, forcing two line dropouts and scoring a try before leaving the field in the 77th minute to a standing ovation.
Waerea-Hargreaves was eased back into first grade with 56 metres in 21 minutes as the Roosters kept the Knights scoreless for the first time in history.
It was a night to remember for Blake Ferguson, who celebrated his selection in the Kangaroos side with a hat-trick to help guide the Roosters to their second win of 2016.
There would be no nerves for Pearce in his first game since the 2015 preliminary final loss against the Broncos, finding the grass with his first kick while Trent Hodkinson – his NSW Blues halves partner last year – sent his first kick out on the full.
That error should have translated into points but Ferguson lost the ball in the process of scoring after latching onto a Pearce cross-field kick.
Having been named to make his international debut for the Kangaroos earlier in the week, Ferguson quickly recovered to celebrate his inclusion with the game's first try.
In an enterprising bit of football, the Tricolours let the ball sing from right to left before bringing it back to the middle where Pearce found Latrell Mitchell whose offload eluded Aidan Guerra but was gleefully accepted by Ferguson.
The Knights looked to have hit back five minutes later in what was their first real foray in attack, but the bunker ruled Pat Mata'utia had taken advantage of an obstruction from Korbin Sims.
The Fijian international's night went from bad to worse after being placed on report for a brutal high shot that forced Roosters winger Joe Burgess out of the game.
Another penalty to the men from Bondi one minute later allowed Hastings to knock over another two points from 10 metres out before the NRL's bottom placed side put on a try that would have their fans reminiscing about the glory days of 2013.
It was the Roosters of old as a tip on from Dylan Napa put Boyd Cordner into space before the back-rower linked up with Hastings who quickly dished a pass back to Friend who released Pearce to score one of the team tries of the season.
Up by 14 at the break, the Roosters did their best to control the second half but were never able to truly kill off the contest until 20 minutes from full time.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall went close in the 47th minute but couldn't control a Latrell Mitchell pass that might have been slightly behind him.
The fleet-footed fullback then nearly did it all himself with a scything kick return that saw him break through a stack of would-be-defenders before eventually being brought to ground over halfway.
That run seemed to inspire the rest of his teammates, and moments later Isaac Liu spun out of a Hodkinson tackle to cross for his first try of the season to put the result beyond doubt.
With the shackles seemingly loosened, the Roosters set about improving their for-and-against, turning to the soon-to-be Kangaroo to get the job done.
Ferguson was the beneficiary of some nice work from second gamer Ryan Matterson who scooped up a loose ball to send his winger away, before he completed his treble three minutes later after falling on a kick from Pearce that was allowed to bounce.
There was time for one last try as Jake Friend grubbered through for the ever-reliable Mitchell Aubusson to score his side's sixth try of the evening.
Hastings finished the game with a perfect seven from seven with the boot to cap off a performance that has put the rest of the competition on notice.
Sydney Roosters 38 (Blake Ferguson 3, Mitchell Pearce, Isaac Liu, Mitchell Aubusson tries; Jackson Hastings 7 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 0 at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 14-0 Roosters. On report: Korbin Sims.