Toyota Cup: Round 18 Preview
The pride of the league is on top of the Toyota Cup table and below them, three teams are charging towards the top eight. Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell looks at the competition and a bunch of exciting halves in his latest look at the National Youth Competition.<br><br><b>Anything but average...</b><br><br>Critics of the amount of points scored in the Toyota Cup might be interested in this statistic.<br><br>The average NRL score line this year is 28-14 and the average NYC score line is 34-20.<br><br>Both competitions have an average winning margin of 14 and you get an average of just one try more per team in the Under 20's.<br><br>Not bad considering the majority of Toyota Cup players can only train part-time while they work/study/train outside the game.<br><br><b>Minor Premiership on the line...</b><br><br>South Sydney can take a massive step towards the minor premiership by beating the Roosters on Friday night.<br><br>The Bunnies are three points clear on top of the table. The Roosters share second spot with North Queensland.<br><br>When they met in Round 1, Adam Reynolds and Kennedy Pettybourne scored doubles to get Souths home 30-26.<br><br><b>Brisbane's busy time...</b><br><br>The Broncos are in danger of dropping out of finals contention on the back of five straight losses.<br><br>Sydney's wet weather last month did them no favours - leaving them to play Wests Tigers in Brisbane on Friday and a deferred game at Manly on Monday.<br><br>They were pipped at the post by the Tigers 20-16 and heavily beaten by the Sea Eagles four nights later 30-16.<br><br>The bye this week might be just what they need before the Titans on Friday week.<br><br><b>Remember the Titans...</b><br><br>The Gold Coast is one of three form teams set to crack the top eight in coming weeks.<br><br>The Titans have won their last four games and four of their last five.<br><br>Either side of them are the Dogs (seven from eight) and Penrith (six from eight), also surging after slow starts to the season.<br><br>Can they continue their good run this week... Gold Coast against Wests Tigers, the Bulldogs versus the Storm, and the Panthers at home to the Warriors.<br><br><b>Once were.. and are again?</b><br><br>The Warriors could crack the top four this weekend having won their last six games in New Zealand. (Even the "away" win against the Roosters was in Christchurch.)<br><br>Can they keep it going in Australia.<br><br>They face a tough ask on Sunday when they head to the foot of the mountains for the in-form Penrith Panthers.<br><b><br>Mirror image...</b><br><br>There are plenty of similarities between Canberra's NRL and NYC teams at the moment.<br><br>Both of them are struggling to turn pressure into points - especially at home - and both have seen the once feared home record go out the window this year.<br><br>The Raiders' NRL and Toyota Cup teams are two from seven at home.<br><br>Luckily the Green Machine Under 20's are six from eight on the road and still in competition contention.<br><br><b>Half a chance...</b><br><br>The Raiders' impressive road record goes on the line again on Saturday when they play Manly at Brookvale.<br><br>The Sea Eagles have a short turn-around after downing Brisbane on Tuesday, a result which snapped their three-game losing streak.<br><br>Canberra need to bound back from consecutive losses or risk crashing out of the eight.<br><br>Canberra half Sam Williams continued his impressive season despite his side's loss to the Roosters, taking his try tally to 12 in 14 games. He's also second in the competition when it comes to line breaks. Williams is still eligible for Toyota Cup next year.<br><br>The battle with Manly half Gary Riccardi should be a good one. He heads the Toyota Cup kicks in play statistic and is second in try assists.<br><br>Find out which half emerges on top by watching Fox Sports 2 as part of our Super Saturday coverage from 3.15pm.<br><br><b>Speaking of halves...</b><br><br>Aidan Sezer and Josh Kent have an impressive combination at the Dogs and are a key reason for Canterbury's transformation this season.<br><br>One wonders what their future holds with the club's stocks boasting names like Kimmorley, Hodkinson, Keating, Roberts, Barba and Green.<br><br>Behind a big forward pack, Canterbury's Under 20 backs are being given a great platform to shine.<br><br>Fullback Nathan Massey was named as Stuart Raper's Young Gun of the Day on Saturday.<br><br>Simon Woolford went for Roosters half Brad Murray in Sunday's win against the Raiders. <br><b><br>Still at the scrumbase...</b><br><br>Newcastle coach Garth Brennan has plenty of scrumbase options after the return of Tyrone Roberts.<br><br>It's forced Will Smith to the centres after he impressed at five-eighth earlier in the season.<br><br>While he was good in attack, his defensive work was outstanding and highly praised by Brennan.<br><br>The Knights halves have a good test on Sunday against a smart pairing at the Sharks in Chad Townsend and Albert Kelly.<br><br>Join us for all the action from Energy Australia Stadium on Sunday from 11.15am.<br><br><b>Skill set...</b><br><br>Ethan Lowe played a key role in the Roosters' win against Canberra on Sunday.<br><br>Apart from scoring a try, he also played the key role in another.<br><br>His catch and pass in the one movement, with defence right in his face was great to watch.<br><br>It was clearly no fluke. He's done it so often this year it's becoming his signature play!<br><br>Parramatta punted... but with good reason.<br><br>The Eels Under 20's have been moved to Ringrose Park at Midday on Sunday against North Queensland.<br><br>Instead Wentworthville will play Balmain Ryde as the curtain raiser.<br><br>The reason is sound.<br><br>Toyota Cup players have to undertake work, study or training outside rugby league and do so admirably.<br><br>That balance is tough for the Cowboys, given their travel arrangements, and a Sunday game was specially requested this week by the North Queensland welfare officer.