Toyota Cup: Round 12 Preview
Does Parramatta have a future sensation sneaking through the ranks? How has Newcastle created history? Why have Canterbury's Under 20's come good? The answers are all in Matt Russell's weekly look at the Toyota Cup. He'll call games in Cronulla and Melbourne this weekend as the National Youth Competition continues.<br><br><b>Best game yet</b><br><br>Parramatta and Cronulla might not be the most fashionable Toyota Cup teams but they provided arguably our best television game of the year on Saturday.<br><br>The Sharks survived a thrilling finish 24-22 after 80 minutes of high completions, few penalties, good kicking and exciting attack.<br><br>Parramatta looked anything but a team that has now lost nine straight games.<br><br>Cronulla looked better than a team still outside the top eight.<br><br>Together they provided a great advertisement for the National Youth Competition.<br><br>If Saturday night was any indication, Parramatta is a big chance to snap its losing run this weekend against St George Illawarra and Cronulla will go on to make the eight.<br><br><b>Loko-motive!</b><br><br>Parramatta's Jacob Loko looks a player of real potential.<br><br>The centre ran amok against Cronulla and scored a 50 metre try using power and speed.<br><br>He his big, fast and strong and has just stepped up from Parramatta's Under 18 team (which lost the SG Ball final to the Roosters).<br><br>Loko is one of five Parramatta SG Ball players invited into Matt Cameron's Toyota Cup squad.<br><br>If they other four are anything like Loko, Parramatta won't be last for long.<br><br>I can hear marketing departments and newspaper editors hoping Loko is a name that makes it!<br><br><b>Chipper Chad</b><br><br>Without Chad Townsend, Cronulla would not have beaten Parramatta.<br><br>Criticised for a poor kicking game in the Round 10 loss to Penrith, Townsend kept the ball in hand to score the first double of his Toyota Cup career.<br><br>For both tries he dummied and stepped his way though the Eels' defensive line.<br><br>He converted all four of Cronulla's tries, the last from the sideline proving the difference in the end.<br><br>Chad Townsend is other player to follow.<br><br>He'll need another good performance if the Sharks are to beat Brisbane on Saturday.<br><br>The Broncos boast NRL experience through Dale Copley in the backline and Dunamis Lui up front.<br><br>They are also smarting after a massive upset loss to Gold Coast last start, which snapped a five-game winning streak.<br><br>Join myself and Cam Smith for all the action as part of our Fox Sports Super Saturday coverage.<br><br><b>Triple treat</b><br><br>For the first time in its Toyota Cup history, Newcastle has won three games straight.<br><br>After big wins against the Titans and Roosters, the Knights claimed their biggest scalp last Friday, knocking Wests Tigers from the top of the table 22-18.<br><br>Coach Garth Brennan now wants to make it four in a row by beating Penrith after this week's bye.<br><br>The win against the Tigers had plenty of merit.<br><br>The Knights fell behind 6-0 early and 18-10 in the second half before a late try from Tyrone Roberts and goals from Peter Mata'utia saw their side home.<br><br><b>Good mentor</b><br><br>Matt McIlwrick's performance against St George Illawarra must have impressed his the man he first lived with after moving from New Zealand.<br><br>The hooker scored two tries, led his side's running metres and also got through a stack of tackling as the Raiders rolled the Dragons 28-20.<br><br>The result kept the Raiders in the top eight heading into this week's Canberra bye.<br><br>Oh, and the man who housed McIlwrick when he first arrived from the nation's capital - first grade coach David Furner!<br><br><b>Breathing... nothing</b><br><br>I said the Dragons had turned their season around a few weeks ago when they beat Manly bravely at Brookvale.<br><br>I was wrong.<br><br>St George Illawarra has since been beaten by Canterbury and Canberra to sit 14th.<br><br>Still it was good to see Under 20's Kyle Stanley and Kalifa Faifai-Loa make first grade against Canberra, along with 2009 Toyota Cup captain Jake Marketo.<br><br><b>Sezer-ing his opportunity</b><br><br>Canterbury are on the climb with a lot of help from Aiden Sezer.<br><br>After starting the season with seven winless weeks, the Dogs have now won three in a row against Parramatta, St George Illawarra and Penrith.<br><br>Against the Eels Sezer scored a try.<br><br>He kicked a goal after the fulltime siren to sink St George Illawarra.<br><br>Penrith allowed him to score three tries and kick six goals for a personal haul of 24 points in a 40-16 rout.<br><br>What will the five-eighth do against Melbourne at AAMI Park on Sunday?<br><br>It is starting to get desperate for the Storm. Last year's premiers have lost five in a row.<br><br>Tune in from 11.30am when Scott Sattler and I call all the action as part of NRL Sunday.<br><br><b>Match of the Round</b><br><br>Keep and eye on Saturday's game between North Queensland and Manly in Townsville.<br><br>It is first versus third.<br><br>The young Cowboys have dropped only two games this season to lead the competition.<br><br>The Sea Eagles are just behind but have been in questionable form, losing to the Rabbitohs and Dragons before downing Parramatta by six.