Field goal redemption for Pearce
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce says his game-winning field goal against the Dragons was atonement for one he missed in the Round 5 loss to the Sea Eagles.
In front of a record Anzac Day crowd at Allianz Stadium, the 28-year-old showed no hesitation when presented with an opportunity to break the 12-all deadlock, coolly slotting the field goal to clinch the hard-earned win.
While Dragons counterpart Josh McCrone sent his midfield kick agonisingly dead in the previous set Pearce made no such mistake with the slippery Steeden, sending his 30-metre effort sailing over the black dot in the first period of golden point.
The gifted No.7 revealed he had been working harder than ever at training to master the art of landing drop goals, with Pearce keen to make up for a missed one-pointer against Manly at Allianz Stadium a few weeks ago when the scores were also locked at 12-all.
"I want the ball in those situations," an elated Pearce said after the game.
"That's my job as a half. I missed one a couple of weeks ago [which was] disappointing so it's nice to ice it in such a tight game.
"It's our job as a half and I've been working on all parts of my game. It's an area I've been finishing training sessions with and grabbing Luke [Keary] and trying to do as many field goals as I can. You do it to ice those moments, and it felt nice."
The one-pointer ended a run of 18 missed field goals, with Pearce's last one-pointer coming back in Round 8, 2011 against the Gold Coats Titans.
The usually composed halfback didn't hide his emotions after the full-time whistle, but Pearce said his celebrations had nothing to do with trying to prove the doubters wrong.
"I wasn't thinking about the critics; it just felt good," he said.
"When you hit a field goal like that in a big game and it goes straight over the black dot, it feels good. It's one of the best feelings you can have in footy.
"I was more worried when the boys jumped on top of me because they nearly snapped my knee in half. There was some heavy contact – I had about 800 kilos on me!"
 Pearce Mitchell - Roosters
While his field goal is what most people will remember, Pearce's 66th-minute try was equally important, with the star halfback running a courage line most playmakers would shy away from to give his side the lead.
Initially it looked as though he had lost control of the ball, but replays showed Pearce had in fact re-gripped Isaac Liu's pass before planting the Steeden under the posts.
"I felt like the ball went down and when it popped out I didn't know if I got it down or not. It was good to get us back in front," he said.
"I enjoy getting on the end of the forwards. I like playing that style. There's plenty of space when halves run around the big middles.
"We've been working on it a fair bit and we got some success over the years playing off the forwards that away, and it was nice to get a try off the back of it instead of getting belted."
In what is shaping as the tightest season on record, Tuesday's win over the high-flying Dragons moved the Roosters just two competition points behind the table-topping Storm after eight rounds.
It was an early litmus test for the Tricolours who showed the sort of grit that will have them in good stead come the business end of the season.
"I've been working hard on my management of the team, especially in tight situations, so tonight was a big test and it felt like we played it really well," Pearce said.
"They're the games that you want to be winning so it was a good test for us early in the year to see where we're at."