Mitchell Pearce has all but secured his sky blues jersey after controlling the Roosters to an at-times nervous 24-18 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs in front of 15,090 fans at ANZ Stadium.
The Dogs took the early advantage and looked to be the side creating all the early momentum when Josh Morris was at the finish of a set of excellent play that began several tackles earlier when Michael Lichaa sliced through the Roosters defence from dummy half. Morris then capitalised on the raid from Lichaa several plays later when he sliced through the Roosters defence leaving them to grasp thin air to score.
The Bulldogs then almost did it again this time through Brett Morris who sliced his way through but a lost ball centimetres from the line was seemingly the momentum changer that the Roosters needed. The Roosters needed possession and when they got it they used it perfectly crossing the tryline three times in the space of five minutes although only two counted with the first two efforts approved by the officials with the first going to Daniel Tupou who only needed to catch, step and put the ball down.
The second needed the bunker to check almost everything and Tupou wasinvolved yet again, the bunker cleared touchline, possible knock ons, whether a tackle was completed and after all that the bunker approved Jake Friend's effort. Daniel Tupou was included again in the third effort and despite the touch judge keeping his flag down the bunker had ruled that Tupou had in fact gone out.
A short dropout going wrong gave the Roosters another two points before five minutes Latrell Mitchell got his name on the scoresheet chasing through a Pearce grubber and the Roosters took a 20-6 lead which was the halftime score.
The second half started like the first with the Bulldogs making all the running and they couldn't get on the board any earlier than the 51st minute when Kerrod Holland under the pressure of three defenders fought his way to the line and brought the margin back to 8.
Another end to end effort from the Dogs and a staggered defence gave the Dogs the space to go through and they did, Matt Frawley was the man the end of it and the Bulldogs had closed the gap down to just the two points.
For quite a while the tactical mistake of a short dropout was the only thing separating the two sides before Mitchell Pearce showed why he is likely to be first picked for NSW this week with an effort to beat several defenders and force his way to the line and get the try that sealed the match for the boys from Bondi.
Next weekend minus a few players for origin duty both sides have tough roadtrips with the Bulldogs facing the Sharks in the Shire meanwhile the Roosters travel down the Hume Highway to take on the Raiders in Canberra.