The Sydney Roosters did indeed win the game but the focus was instead on the return of both Mitchell Pearce and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, who both had lengthy stints on the sideline.
In the end, both contributed in their own way to the Roosters victory, as the Tricolours cruised home to a comfortable 38-0 win over the Newcastle Knights at Allianz Stadium.
It was the first time that the Roosters had defeated the Knights to nil, as they proved far too strong for a spirited yet unorganised Knights side.
As the match wore on, the Roosters gained momentum and it eventually the pressure was telling as they crossed the white line to score.
The game could have been different had a Knights try to Pat Mata’utia been allowed, but the bunker ruled an obstruction in the lead-up.
Showing their attacking flair, the Roosters stepped it up a gear and the Knights had no answers to stop it.
Recently selected by Mal Meninga for the Australian Kangaroos squad, Blake Ferguson ended up with a hat-trick, justifying his selection in the eyes of some.
Rather than sit back and relax, the Roosters went for the kill, piling on more points and heaping more misery onto the Knights.
Jackson Hastings finished with 7 from 7 with the boot, as the Roosters look to continue this momentum in coming weeks.
Returning after his off-field incident, Roosters coach Trent Robinson was not surprised at the impact Pearce had.
“I wasn’t surprised with how well he played,” Robinson said.
“It’s a real credit to him on what he’s done and we’ve been lucky enough to see when he came back how well he was talking, how well he was clear with his training and physical and the way that he sees the game.
“He’s been ready for at least a month to play. We had our conductor back and it allowed us to move around freely around him.”
With the Knights suffering from a fair few injuries, coach Nathan Brown admitted they are playing busted and so the break comes at a good time for the club.
“We’ll have a little bit of training early in the week and then at the back end of the week they’ll need some time away,” Brown said.
“We’re pretty much down to only 18 players so there are some blokes playing today that obviously have bodies that aren’t in the best state at the minute but we’ve only got 18 blokes left.
“Even our 18th man probably wasn’t quite fit to play either so thankfully we didn’t have to introduce him. There are a few fair guys out there [who are busted] so a week off is timely.
“I don’t suspect we’ll get anyone back over the next couple of weeks but at least the bodies that are playing will get a good rest which will be pleasing.”
With the Roosters win, it has fans and pundits dreaming – is it possible to make the finals despite their poor start beforehand?
“It’s one win and we know where we’re sitting on the ladder now,” Jake Friend, Roosters captain said.
“It was a good performance, but I think for us it’s got to be the standard now and we’ve got to keep moving forward.
“Hopefully we can string a few on the trot to get us in a position to fight for that top eight spot at the back end of the season. The belief is definitely there between the boys.”
Player of the Game:
3. Isaac Liu
2. Blake Ferguson
1. Latrell Mitchell
Sydney Roosters 38 (Blake Ferguson 3, Mitchell Pearce, Isaac Liu, Mitchell Aubusson tries; Jackson Hastings 7 goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 0 at Allianz Stadium. Half-time: 14-0 Roosters. On report: Korbin Sims.