Dragons centre Jessica Sergis got the ideal 21st birthday present last Saturday, scoring one try and saving two in a brilliant all-round performance in her team's maiden NRWL win – a 22-10 triumph at ANZ Stadium last Saturday.
The performance was even more remarkable given Sergis is managing an ongoing ankle injury that badly restricted her preparation for the tournament.
Sergis also had to overcome concussion protocol after being knocked out in a monster collision with Broncos winger Julia Robinson in her team's opening-round loss, but shook off both injuries to play a match-winning hand against the Warriors.
She could barely put weight on her left ankle in the Dragons' sheds shortly after the win, but the pain couldn't hold back a beaming smile.
"To get the win, we obviously wanted that but I got a meat pie so I was pretty stoked about that," she laughed.
"We knew this was a do or die game for us. Our heads were screwed on and we're stoked with the win, we're on the ladder now so all we've got to do is focus on [the Roosters]."
Remarkably the match was just her third for the year.
"I've had two major foot injuries so I knew it was going to be a struggle [to get through this series]," she added.
"I did my ankle; it's been 13 weeks now. I haven't played any footy really at all.
"I did it in a game coming back from another injury. It's a little niggle. Hopefully it settles down in the next couple of days and hopefully I'll be fine.
"It got in my head a couple of times but once we got rolling I kind of forgot about it and the adrenaline kicked in."
Luckily the previous week's head knock was less of an issue.
"I got all my testing done throughout the week. It was pretty straightforward, I kind of knew all week I was going to play."
Sergis's performance also drew praise from her coach Daniel Lacey.
"I'm really happy for Jess, it was her birthday, she gets a try," he said after the game.
"I couldn't be prouder. We'll be celebrating Jess's birthday in a good way."
Pressed on Sergis's resilience and dual try-saving tackles on powerful Warriors winger Langi Veainu, Lacey added: "That's character.
"It's an all-new competition and these girls have to set what the boundaries are, what the expectations are, they have to set that.
"Nobody knew how this competition was going to go. We needed to turn up in defence. They're a big team with power through the middle. We had to match that. The fact we did match that and played off the back of it, it's good signs. You know you're in good shape if the team is defending for each other."
Sergis has been named to back up this week against the Roosters. It sets up a tantalising head-to-head battle with her fellow Jillaroos and Blues centre Isabelle Kelly, who has been one of the form players of the competition on the Roosters' left edge.
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