Mitchell Pearce scored in his first game of 2016 against the Knights in Round 9.

Roosters v Knights: Five key points

Mitchell Pearce made his return to the NRL to help guide the Roosters to a crushing 38-0 win over the Knights in a game that saw Blake Ferguson justify his national call-up with a hat-trick. 

Returning troops provide the Roosters with much needed artillery

Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce looked like he hadn't missed a beat as he played a starring role in his first game back in the NRL in 2016. 

The Roosters No.7 ran for 122 metres, scored a try and was involved in two more in a performance that had the home crowd on its feet when he left the field close to full time. 

"I wasn't surprised with how well he played," Roosters coach Trent Robinson said after the game. 

"It's a real credit to him on what he's done and we've been lucky enough to see when he came back how well he was talking, how well he was clear with his training and physical and the way that he sees the game. 

"He's been ready for at least a month to play. We had our conductor back and it allowed us to move around freely around him."

It was also a successful return for teammate Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who played his first NRL game since tearing his ACL in Round 24 last year.

The Kiwis enforcer made 77 metres and produced 11 tackles in a 21-minute hit out that ticked all the boxes for his coach. 

"It's a tough thing to come back from...probably the toughest an ACL. There are always those thoughts leading into your first game so it was good for him to get that run out of the way," Robinson said.

"We wanted to get him off the bench and get him back into the rhythm of the game and I thought he did his job really well."

Battered Knights looking forward to week off

Newcastle coach Nathan Brown hinted his players would be in for a relaxing week ahead with the bulk of his squad either missing through injury or playing busted.

With rep round looming, Brown said the Knights would be on very light duties, but admitted he wasn't expecting the week off to ease the ever-growing casualty ward that includes Jarrod Mullen, Kade Snowden and Robbie Rochow. 

"We'll have a little bit of training early in the week and then at the back end of the week they'll need some time away," Brown said. 

"We're pretty much down to only 18 players so there are some blokes playing today that obviously have bodies that aren't in the best state at the minute but we've only got 18 blokes left. 

"Even our 18th man probably wasn't quite fit to play either so thankfully we didn't have to introduce him. There are a few fair guys out there [who are busted] so a week off is timely. 

"I don't suspect we'll get anyone back over the next couple of weeks but at least the bodies that are playing will get a good rest which will be pleasing."

 

Can the Roosters mount a charge for the finals?

It might've been just their second win of 2016, but Roosters players are still confident of playing at the business end of the season. 

The Tricolours won just four of their first nine matches in 2015 before going on a 12-match unbeaten run to charge home and lift their third minor premiership in a row.

While they're in a slightly worse predicament this year, their skipper is hopeful Saturday night's crushing win could be the impetus to send them on a similar winning run. 

"It's one win and we know where we're sitting on the ladder now," Jake Friend said. 

"It was a good performance, but I think for us it's got to be the standard now and we've got to keep moving forward.

"Hopefully we can string a few on the trot to get us in a position to fight for that top eight spot at the back end of the season. The belief is definitely there between the boys."

Brock Lamb shines on debut

Rookie five-eighth Brock Lamb made the step up from Holden Cup to the NRL in what was a highly impressive first grade debut. 

The debutant made 24 of his 26 tackles, took the line on seven times and kicked for a whopping 389 metres in what was a tough initiation into life as a first grade footballer. 

"I thought he played really controlled and did really well considering when you look at the circumstances he played in," Knights coach Nathan Brown said. 

"Obviously there will be some parts that he'll look at and think he can do better, but as a whole he had Boyd Cordner coming at him and he handled him reasonably well. 

"I thought he kicked the ball reasonably well and he looked comfortable out there. He'll only continue to improve as the team can only improve."

Roosters bring back their famed Bondi wall

After starting the year as the worst defensive team in the NRL, the Roosters showed glimpses of why they have been the most frugal team over the past three years by shutting out the Knights for the first time in their head-to-head history.

The Roosters only missed 17 tackles on Saturday night against a Newcastle side that wasn't afraid to throw the ball around, and that was the most pleasing of the big win according to five-eighth Jackson Hastings. 

"We feel like our heartbeat is sort of coming back in defence. We sort of live and breathe it at this club," Hastings said. 

"I think a lot of teams talk about it but we actually do pride ourselves on our defence and when it does all go to [sic] as they say, you can have that backbone in defence. It was good to have a couple of those leaders back that really helped with the chat out there."

Trent Robinson said the Knights had been difficult to contain and was proud of the way his side protected the line. 

"I thought they were really hard to tackle. They were coming at us, creating some momentum and we had to control that."