Toyota Cup: Finals Preview

And so eight becomes six. Gold Coast and Manly are gone. South Sydney and the Warriors have a week off. North Queensland, Canberra, Canterbury and the Roosters slug it out in Week 2 of the finals. Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell has his weekly look at the Toyota Cup.<br><br><b>New Favourites...</b><br><br>South Sydney have been wound in to $3.25 to win the 2010 Toyota Cup after coming from 22-6 down to beat Gold Coast 24-22.<br><br>The minor premiers were $8 just to win the game in live betting but showed great character in a comeback victory.<br><br>Second half tries from Nathan Peats, Francis Laulu and Kane Morgan were important but so too were the three conversions from an ice-cool Adam Reynolds.<br><br>Laulu picked a great time to score his first try of the year.<br><br>Rookie coach David Kidwell must have been proud of his troops, who he told to ignore the disappointment of being made to play on the Gold Coast, five days after their final regular season game.<br><br>His message could easily have been lost at 22-6 down but instead the Rabbitohs rallied and the bookies have taken notice.<br><br><b>Welcome home...</b><br><br>The Bunnies are straight through to Week 3 of the finals, where they will not have the disappointment of travelling again.<br><br>The NRL has already announced they will play at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, September 25 against the winner of this week’s game between North Queensland and Canberra.<br><b><br>Worthy Warriors...</b><br><br>The Warriors are also through to Week 3 after a win that resembled South Sydney’s.<br><br>The men from New Zealand trained 16-6 against a fired-up Manly at halftime before scoring two tries in the five minutes to start the second period.<br><br>Glen Fisiiahi scored two tries in another show of speed and skill.<br><br>Captain Ben Henry has now scored five tries in the last month.<br><br>Big Sam Lousi – all 198cm of him – stood like a colossus, with his offloads leading to two tries.<br><br>The young Warriors have now won 10 of their last 11 games and John Ackland has them firing at the right time of the season.<br><br>They didn’t win a game for the first month!<br><b><br>Rest up...</b><br><br>The Warriors can stay at home this weekend before returning to Australia on Friday week to play the winner of the <br><br>Bulldogs v Roosters game.<br><br>In a way it’s a pity that the Warriors and Dogs won’t get to meet in the Grand Final.<br><br>They are the form teams of the competition at the moment, each with big, off-loading forwards and skilful backs.<br><br>If they meet at Suncorp Stadium for a position in the season decider it shapes as a must watch.<br><br><b>This week...</b><br><br><b>Friday, September 17<br>Canberra Stadium.<br>North Queensland (4th) v Canberra (6th)</b><br><br>Why Nth Queensland can win: The Cowboys were dominant against the Roosters last Saturday, racing ahead 30-0 at halftime and going on to win 46-12. They have big bodies from the front row to the centres and will rip the Raiders to pieces if allowed to run and offload.<br><br>Where they might struggle: The Cowboys have trained in 30 degree temperatures in Townsville this week. It won’t be that warm in Canberra... and it’s a fair road trip.<br><br>The key man: At 17 years and 82 days, Jason Taumalolo became the Cowboys’ youngest NRL debutant recently. His bulk and skill in the second row gave the Cowboys a flying start against the Roosters.<br><br>Why Canberra can win: The Raiders have had a good year against the Cowboys, beating them twice – 38-24 and more recently 30-22 in Canberra. Those scores should given them plenty of confidence.<br><br>Where they might struggle: Defence has not been a priority for the Raiders this year, ranking 13th in that department. They gave up 54 points against Canterbury last Saturday.<br><br>The key man: Sam Williams made an encouraging return from an ankle injury against the Dogs and was instrumental in his side’s strong first half showing. If the Canberra conductor can stretch his superiority for 60 or 70 minutes, they will be right in the finish.<br><b><br>Saturday, September 18<br>Sydney Football Stadium<br>Bulldogs (3rd) v Roosters (5th)</b><br><br>Why Bulldogs can win: Have a look at their last 12 games. They haven’t lost. Still not convinced? Go back to Round 7. Since then, they’ve only been beaten once... and that with a prop sent off in the first half.<br><br>Where they might struggle: You tell me!<br><br>The key man: I’ll make it the key men. Sam Kasiano and Paki Afu come off the bench, bringing size and skill. It’s a bit like surviving the opening bowling spell from Michael Holding and Andy Roberts, only to have Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall come on as first change.<br><br>Why Roosters can win: Many will say they can’t! Perhaps a 40-all draw with the Dogs earlier this season will provide some confidence. Canterbury won the other meeting 38-28. The Dogs have allowed teams to stick with them in the first half lately. If that happens again, maybe a sudden death situation may spook them.<br><br>Where they might struggle: The Roosters were flogged 46-12 last week. It’s a long way back from there.<br><br>The key man: Brad Murray needs to have his biggest game for the Roosters, otherwise it will be his last before joining Parramatta. The halfback finished second to Tariq Sims as Toyota Cup Player of the Year and can grab a game by the scruff of the neck. He needs all of his linebreak and try assist skills on Saturday.<br><br><b>And one more thing...</b><br><br>Simon Dwyer’s hit on Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was the biggest and best I’ve seen.<br><br>Both are products of last year’s Toyota Cup.<br><br>Anyone who tells me the Under 20’s can’t tackle will be sent straight to a replay of that shot.<br><br>Dwyer put his body on the line and timed it perfectly.<br><br>Waerea-Hargreaves ran in fearlessly and to his credit, afterwards said he had no issues with the tackle.<br><br>Just what you want to hear from a blow who is often the “giver” rather than the “receiver”.