Sat August 4, 2012 7:11am
THE focus heading into last night had been on whether St George Illawarra could survive without Jamie Soward. The jury might still be out as far as that issue is concerned but the Sydney Roosters certainly learned they can't live without Mitchell Pearce.
Pearce proved to be a hero for the Roosters at Allianz Stadium after scoring a hat-trick of tries to set up a rare win for the club - only its second in its past 11 games - and move it another step away from finishing with the dreaded wooden spoon this season.
The home team had looked the better side for most of the night until centre Joseph Leilua was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 55th minute. At the time the Roosters were in front 14-0 but the Dragons scored two quick tries to reduce the margin to 14-10.
Pearce, the NSW halfback and self-confessed party boy, has been the subject of constant speculation this season that he had fallen out with coach Brian Smith and wants out of the club. Smith was one of the first to congratulate him following his performance last night.
"I just called him Usain - that's the fastest we've seen him move for a while," Smith said.
"He was right on the ball all night tonight, Pearcey, on everything. He deserves it. He's worked hard.
"I've observed lots and lots of players over the years ... the aftermath of Origin is immense and there's two or three players that come to mind at the moment for me that are not playing for us, they look like they're really shattered physically and mentally.
"It's hard and he's (Pearce) only just learning how to come to terms with dealing with all that stuff. He did it so well tonight. That was a really leading performance."