Hard work pays off for Pearce
Roosters coach Trent Robinson has praised star halfback Mitchell Pearce for taking the game by the scruff of the neck during Tuesday's thrilling 13-12 golden point win over the Dragons.
The 28-year-old ran a courage line to score the try that gave his side the lead in the 66th minute and then backed it up with his first field goal in six years to silence the critics who have questioned his ability to stand up with the game on the line.
"There's been some talk even in the last couple of weeks – I think they had to go and put his stats out there for the drop goals – and safe to say he's practised more in this off-season and then in-season than any other year," Robinson said.
"You work hard and you get your results.
"I was just saying that the try that he did, usually a halfback would stand back and organise the play a lot to get the next play on, but to hit the line like he did off Isaac Liu to score that try to get us in front, that's a big play.
"For a halfback to decide 'righto I'm not going to start organising and I'm going to do a hit-up off a front-rower like that in support' that's a huge play. It's a real credit to him.
"I think we've all seen him grow up in rugby league since he was kid, so for him to have nights like that are really pleasing."
Co-captain Jake Friend was clearly chuffed for his good mate who easily knocked over the one-pointer from 30 metres out on the back of a strong charge by Boyd Cordner.
"That's what you play for. It was a big day and a big game," Friend said.
"It was a good set up from us to get 'Pearcey' in position to kick it, and Pearcey is a clutch player so you want the footy in his hands around those times. He snapped it so it's awesome from Mitch, but it's also awesome from all of our boys to play the footy that they did to get the ball in position for Mitch to kick that goal.
"Out there it was pretty calm. It was back and forth footy, but you didn't really have any time to worry about the score. For us, we knew that would happen and we knew it would be an 80-minute game so we just wanted to stick in for the last 20 minutes of the second half."
The game itself lived up to the hype, with neither side giving an inch in front of a record Anzac Day crowd at Allianz Stadium.
The Dragons bullied their way through the middle and looked threatening on the edges in the first half before the Roosters retaliated in the second stanza to hit the lead through Pearce's try.
"To understate it, it was a really good game of footy," Robinson said.
"It was two teams ready to play, not ready to give up too many points and they kept coming at each other. It was a physical game so both teams were trying to win a physical advantage and it seemed like that was going on for the 80 minutes.
"Everyone was trying to get dominant before they opened up. Both teams stood toe-to-toe for 80 minutes and then they had to go into extra-time so it was a high-quality game."