Roosters v Dragons: Five key points
A Mitchell Pearce field goal proved the difference as the Roosters pipped the Dragons 13-12 in golden point in front of a record Anzac Day crowd.
Pearce on point
It was nearly six years to the day, but Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce can now say he's got the monkey off his back after he landed a field goal to win his side the match in golden point.
The last time he nailed a one-pointer was Round 8, 2011 – the Roosters lost 24-13 – but under more pressure than your average regular season game, Pearce ended a streak of 18 missed attempts to break his drought in style.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said it was no fluke that the shot went over.
"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," he said.
"You work hard and you get your results."
Roosters match 2016 tally
It's taken the Tricolours just eight rounds to match their win total from last year.
While everything that could go wrong did go wrong in 2016, the Roosters have shown what they are capable of when they have their full arsenal at their disposal.
Robinson said his players had earned the right to be on six wins after eight matches, and didn't sugar-coat last year's struggles.
"We deserve what we've got this year, as we did last year. It was a good test today and we passed it."
Record Anzac crowd
Not even the onset of rain two hours before kick-off could deter fans of both sides from pouring into Allianz Stadium, with a record 40,864 flocking through the gates to witness an absolute classic.
The signs were there an hour before the Holden Cup with plenty of people waiting in the forecourt for the gates to open.
The atmosphere during the game was finals-like and wasn't lost on the players.
"Every Anzac game is a massive atmosphere, but it was definitely loud there," Roosters co-captain Jake Friend said.
"It was tough communicating on the field, but it's awesome to play in front of a crowd like that. It's our job to play good footy and enjoy this day as much as everyone else."
Dragons brave in defeat
Even in defeat, the Dragons justified their position on the ladder with a gallant display that pleased coach Paul McGregor.
The Red V lost skipper Gareth Widdop just before half-time with a medial injury but they still controlled all the key stats with and without the ball, only for Pearce to hand them their second loss of the season with a clutch field goal at the death.
"You don't lose friends playing like that," McGregor said.
"Obviously there were a few circumstances in the game that unfolded, but as I spoke to the boys, we're still in the learning part and we're still a growing team – and it's a bit of a lesson today at different stages.
"We lost our fullback for a period, we lost our halfback for a period and it came down to golden point. I'm very proud."
Dugan puts his hand up for kicking duties
The first question people asked in the media box when Widdop came off was who would replace him as goal-kicker.
It seemed like we wouldn't find out until Nene Macdonald beat several attempted tackles to spectacularly touch down in the 78th minute.
Having just returned from an HIA, Josh Dugan stepped up with the game on the line for what was a difficult assignment for even the best sharpshooter, let alone someone who boasted a 59.46 percentage before the game.
Despite battling during Monday's training session, the star custodian landed the conversion to send the game into extra-time.
"It was nice of him to nail it because we actually had a kicking competition the day before at training and he didn't win that," McGregor said.