Toyota Cup: Round Six Preview

Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell previews Round 6 of the Toyota Cup - this weekend involving television games in Newcastle and New Zealand as the competition leading North Queensland Cowboys make their 2010 debut on the small screen.<br><br><b>Tight at the top..</b><br><br>Five weeks of competition has done little to separate the Toyota Cup field.<br><br>Like the NRL, where one win separates nine teams, one win separates eight teams in the National Youth Competition.<br><br>Complicating the Under 20's ladder are six odd numbers after three draws in the early rounds.<br><br>Chances are not much will change by Round 10 or 15, meaning another thrilling trip through the final rounds.<br><br><b>AK47 to fire..</b><br><br>Albert Kelly is set to make his first Toyota Cup appearance of the season on Sunday against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.<br><br>The rookie first grader has been dropped by Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart after a tough few weeks as an NRL fullback. He'll play five-eighth for Joey Grima's Under 20's.<br><br>Kelly, nick-named AK47 because of his initials, played Toyota Cup in 2008 and '09 with Parramatta, scoring 11 tries in 18 appearances last year, not to mention a stack of try-assists.<br><br>He is an exciting prospect but Stuart could extend no more patience after a couple of big blunders at Brookvale.<br><br>It is interesting that he has been sent back to Toyota Cup and not the NSW Cup.<br><br>Coaches tend to send players to the NSW Cup to "toughen up" against open company.<br><br>Toyota Cup is seen as an avenue to "brighten up" after a wack to a young player's confidence.<br><br><b>Baby, baby Broncos..</b><br><br>With Ivan Henjak forced to promote several of his club's Under 20's last week, it was a great performance for the baby, baby Broncos to beat St George Illawarra in the Toyota Cup 26-14.<br><br>Impressively, the Broncos kept the home side scoreless in the second half after leading 16-14 at the break.<br><br>While Dale Copley returns to the NYC ranks this week, Dunamis Lui has been rewarded with a role as starting NRL prop against the Sharks.<br><br>Not bad to go from interchange on debut to starting prop one week later, especially against Cronulla warriors Luke Douglas and Kade Snowden.<br><br><b>Seeing is believing..</b><br><br>Scott Sattler and myself were left shaking our heads at Gosford on Saturday, calling a game you almost had to see to believe.<br><br>Newcastle led South Sydney 22-0 after 11 minutes with the Rabbitohs moving as fast as this week's Central Coast traffic on the F3!<br><br>When the Bunnies finally found the accelerator they levelled at 22-all after 27 minutes and outscored the Knights 44-6 in an incredible 45-minute stretch, going on to win 48-34.<br><br>Newcastle was harshly treated by a decision that denied Peter Mata'utia late in the game but should never have been beaten after such a commanding start.<br><br><b>Newcastle v Nth Queensland..</b><br><br>Expect last week's defeat to inspire the Knights against North Queensland on Saturday, although the Cowboys are also hurting.<br><br>Like Newcastle, the Cowboys collapsed against Wests Tigers. They led 18-4 at halftime but conceded six second-half tries to be beaten 38-28.<br><br>It means the Cowboys gave up more points in 40 minutes (34) than they had in the first four rounds (31)!<br><br>Still the Cowboys stay first and travel to play a Newcastle team in eighth.<br><br>Their game will bring together the Toyota Cup's top two line-breakers - North Queensland halfback Michael Morgan (10) and Newcastle fullback Neenan Simpson (9).<br><br>Simpson should be buzzing after a three-try haul last weekend and goes up against another exciting fullback in Wayne Ulugia.<br><br>The Cowboys also boast the sharpest shooter in the Toyota Cup, with Kyle Feldt nailing 17 of his 20 shots at goal for a strike rate of 87%.<br><br>Join myself and Brett Kimmorley for all the action from 3.15pm Easters as part of Super Saturday from 2pm.<br><br><b>Older age given the Noddy..</b><br><br>Speaking of Brett Kimmorley, it is interesting to see him suggesting a 22-year-old age limit for the Toyota Cup.<br><br>He thinks that will allow the Toyota Cup players to better develop mentally and physically as they work towards the NRL.<br><br>The Toyota Cup is locked in as an Under 20 competition until 2012 at least, when it will be discussed further.<br><br><b>For our next trick..</b><br><br>Pity the punter who made $12,000 disappear on a two leg Toyota Cup multi with TAB Sportsbet last weekend - Gold Coast +8.5 / St Geo -6.5 @ $3.61.<br><br>Gold Coast's 22-all draw with Melbourne ticked that box. The Dragons' shock loss to Brisbane crossed the other one.<br><br>Oh well, the footy's on again this week.<br><br><b>Green with Envy..</b><br><br>As Fox Sports' Warren Smith pointed out on Monday, players 1-5 in the Canberra NRL lineup were Toyota Cup products who helped the Raiders win the inaugural Under 20's title. The 13, Shaun Fensom, was also part of that team.<br><br>While they've already produced names like Dugan, Stuart, Croker, Thompson, Vidot, Fensom and Waddell, don't expect it to stop there.<br><br>Canberra has cracked the Toyota Cup finals for the first two years and is on track to do so again after a 40-22 win against Parramatta on Monday.<br><br>Haydon Hodge, Sam Williams and Drury Low scored two tries each and are more exciting prospects lurking in Canberra.<br><br>Hanging on to all their young stars looms as Canberra's biggest hurdle. If they do, maybe the glory days of the late 80's and early 90's aren't so far away.<br><br><b>Billy Threepou</b>..<br><br>The Warriors Under 20's enjoyed having Billy Tupou in their side for Round 5, with the winger scoring three tries.<br><br>It helped the New Zealander's score their first win of the season 36-30 against Canterbury, despite injuries, suspension and questionable form.<br><br>Unfortunately for his Under 20 team mates, Tupou is back in the NRL ranks this week, covering for a hamstrung Manu Vatuvei.<br><br>The Warriors are out to make it back to back wins when they host Penrith on Sunday.<br><br>The Panthers also have only one win so far.<br><br>The loser in Round 6 risks falling right off the pace.<br><br>Who will be most desperate? Find out on Fox Sports this Sunday from 11.45am Eastern.<br>