Pearce ‘excited’ for Roosters return
AN inspirational captain's knock from Mitchell Pearce and another dazzling performance from Kalyn Ponga has guided Newcastle back-to-back wins to start the season for the first time since 2015.
Following up from his golden point field goal to sink Manly last week, Pearce this time came up with a terrific play to send Sione Mata'utia over for the match winner in the 74th minute to secure a dramatic 30-28 win over Canberra.
On a night when Ricky Stuart's Raiders blew an eight-point second half lead to leave them winless after two rounds, the new-look Knights refused to lay down as Pearce picked them up and drove them to victory.
Ahead of his return match against the Sydney Roosters this Sunday, Pearce proved what an asset he already is for his new club.
Reminded that the Roosters had said after their win over Canterbury this is just another game, Pearce smiled: "It is obviously exciting. It will be funny playing against some of my best mates.
"There is no doubt it is going to be an exciting game. Hopefully it is a big crowd.
"I am sure we will get plenty of Knights fans to come down. We seem to get a lot more than the Roosters fans."
Newcastle coach Nathan Brown piped up: "He is going to belt Boydie Cordner."
Pearce laughed: "I am on the other edge so I am glad I don't have to tackle Boyd."
But Brown was full of praise of Pearce's ability just to get the job done.
"Again, Junior came up with a composed attacking play to create the winning try for us which is a credit to him," Brown said.
"Those little wins build belief and trust and confidence, don't they?"
Ponga also had another night to remember, playing a big role in three of Newcastle's five tries.
"Everyone acknowledges Kalyn Ponga, he is an exceptional talent," Brown said.
"My wife has probably worked that out by now and she doesn't follow rugby league too much."
Up front, Brisbane recruit Herman Ese'ese made his presence known against the monster Canberra pack while fellow recruits Connor Watson, Aidan Guerra and Tautau Moga picked up tries along with Lachlan Fitzgibbon.
The Knights copped a 7-1 penalty count against them in the second half and while Brown wasn't complaining about the tally, he said his team needed to improve its discipline.
But the loss was a bitter blow for Canberra following last week's defeat to Gold Coast when they also gave up a big lead to go down by the exact same score.
Last year Canberra lost eight games by six points or less and now they have two more to open 2018.
The Raiders now take on the unbeaten Warriors on Saturday.
Stuart tried hard to stay positive.
"It is about making sure that we don't lose all that effort and desire," Stuart said.
"It is just not happening for us at the moment.
"If we win that game by two to four points do I have to talk differently to the team after the game?
"If we lose it by two points do I have to talk differently? I mean, the effort is there.
"The contribution from individuals is there. So I can't go off on any type of tangent and wanting to be ripping people's heads off because I am upset about losing the game.
"I have to be smart and I have to be understanding of what the players are going through.
"It is a difficult situation and it is continually happening."