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Roosters edge Dragons in Anzac Day classic

NZN 25/04/2017 Steve Zemek

A clutch Mitchell Pearce field goal has propelled the Sydney Roosters to an NRL golden point win over St George Illawarra and provided a strong rebuke to his critics in the process.

The Roosters No.7 came up with the two big moments in the match with a second-half try and one-pointer in the 84th minute getting his side over the line 13-12 in an Anzac Day classic in front of a record crowd of 40,864 at Allianz Stadium.

The Dragons were brave in defeat after losing five-eighth Gareth Widdop just before halftime and storming back in to the match with a 78th minute try to Nene MacDonald that sent the game in to extra time.

However, it was Pearce who stood up when it mattered, shattering his hoodoo with the boot. Going in to the game he had missed his past 18 attempts at field goal going back to round eight, 2011.

It's a record that was brought up in the media three weeks ago as he seeks to regain his NSW Origin jersey and coach Trent Robinson sung his praises after his match-winning play.

"There's been some talk in the last couple of weeks (about Pearce's record with attempted field goal) and safe to say he practised more this pre-season and in-season than any other year," Robinson said.

"You work hard and you get your results. To score the try that he did, normally a halfback would stand back and organise the play a lot to get the next play on.

"But to hit a line like he did off Isaac Liu to score and get us in front, that's a big play."

After the Dragons carried a 6-0 lead in to the break, the game turned when Widdop limped from the field 90 second from halftime, with what appears to be a torn medial ligament in his left knee. The No.6 now looks set for an extended period on the sidelines.

The Dragons, who went in to the match on top of the ladder, suddenly looked rudderless and the Roosters first scored through Blake Ferguson.

Dragons coach Paul McGregor spent the second half of the game reshuffling his backline, and at one point played lock Jack de Belin at five-eighth when Josh Dugan was temporarily taken from the field to be assessed for concussion.

When Pearce bobbled and then regained the ball over the line for a try, the Roosters had the lead for the first time in the game.

The Tricolours looked headed for victory before Nene MacDonald spectacularly scored with two minutes on the clock and Dugan - the side's second-string kicker - booted the conversion just metres from the sideline to send the game to golden point.

However, as brave as the Dragons were, the Roosters just had too much class and composure to get the job done.

"You don't lose friends playing like that," McGregor said.

"Obviously there's a few circumstance that unfolded but, as I said to the boys, we're still in the learning phase

"We're a growing team and it was a lesson today at different stages but we spoke about mateship, courage and sacrifice and words like that; they did all that today.

"We lost our fullback for a period, we lost our five-eighth for a period.

"I'm very proud."

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