Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell analyses the week that was in the 2011 Toyota Cup competition.
Remember this name...
He has South Sydney officials very excited and with good reason.
Roberts leads the 2011 Toyota Cup try scoring ranks with nine.
Last weekend, he scored three tries and kicked four goals for 20 points. Souths won 24-22.
That came after three tries in Round 1. There was a double in Round 4.
Roberts burst onto the scene late last year when he scooped the ball up in his own in-goal and raced 110m to score. Twice!
Born in Kempsey and via the La Perouse junior club, Roberts is a relative of ‘Famous Amos’. In time, Amos might be known as a relative of ‘Jumping Jimmy’.
Case for the defence...
In a competition where attack might appear to be the priority, don’t underestimate the ability of some teams in defence.
Cronulla kept Manly scoreless in the second half at Shark Park. It helped the home side come from 20-4 down to win 21-20.
Melbourne and Parramatta went the last 32 minutes of their game without any points as the Storm won an absorbing battle 22-16.
The Warriors kept the Roosters scoreless for 80 minutes. Canterbury and Brisbane gave up only single figures.
Coaches James Shepherd, Dean Pay, John Ackland, Andy Patmore and Kurt Richards must be very satisfied men.
Sharing it 'round...
The Warriors premiership defence goes from strength to strength.
For the last three weeks, the young New Zealanders have posted 40 points or more.
They beat the Roosters 42-0 with the eight tries scored by eight different players.
This week they pack their bags for Brookvale with plenty of good memories.
The last time they played Manly there, the Warriors won 56-18, with Omar Sleimankhel becoming the first Junior Warrior to bag four Toyota Cup tries.
Now at fullback, Sleimankhel is in form again.
Join Simon Woolford and I for all the action from 3.15pm EST on Fox Sports 2.
Get your compass...
It’s called the National Rugby League and the Toyota Cup is doing that proud.
After five rounds the top eight is Canberra, Brisbane, Warriors, Melbourne, North Queensland, Canterbury, Newcastle, Cronulla.
It represents two countries, five states or territories, and seven regions.
Nothing like spreading it around.
North Queensland might head Toyota Cup premiership betting but Melbourne has to be a contender.
Unbeaten at home this season, Dean Pay has some very handy players displaying some great footy.
And they are still playing without two of their best forwards – Tohu Harris and Jordan McLean.
They are due back from injury mid-season, fresh for a back-end of the year spent mainly on the road. Perfect timing.
Match of the round...
How I’d love to be calling the North Queensland v Canberra Toyota Cup game on Saturday night.
The two Under 20’s heavyweights will carry hot form into their Townsville encounter.
Canberra is the best attacking team in the league, having scored 210 points already as part of a points differential of +106.
The Cowboys have the most experienced playing roster in the competition and are unbeaten in their last four.
They’ll also be celebrating Sam Williams’ return to first-grade for the Raiders.
Williams has scored two doubles in four NYC games this year and last week handed off five try assists.
Sam Wighton and Luke Berkrey form Canberra’s new combination at the scrumbase.
North Queensland has the most experienced halves pairing in the competition, with Michael Morgan and Michael Parker-Walsh each crossing for two tries last week.
Maybe that will be the difference.
Nothing the matter at Parra...
The Eels are imposters... but only because they are near the bottom of the table and shouldn’t be.
They stretched Melbourne to the limit on Sunday and had some great contributors.
In consecutive weeks, Parramatta has lost by four points to North Queensland and by six to Melbourne – two teams who could meet in this year’s Grand Final.
Add a four-point loss to New Zealand and 10-point defeat to Penrith and Parra could easily be closer to the top than bottom.
Peni Terepo, Ava Seumanufagai and PJ Asiata form a willing and destructive front-row rotation.
Lock Rory Brien has to be the competition ironman.
Marmin Barba is much like brother Ben and will bewilder plenty of defenders.
The Eels are one and four. It wouldn’t surprise me if they finish the season with more wins than losses.
For what it’s worth...
Wayne Bennett doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what I think.
Still, I hope his Newcastle coaching team has room for Garth Brennan.
‘Brenno’ has a long history with Newcastle rugby league, as a local player and coach at the Knights since 2003.
His passion for Newcastle rugby league and the next generation of players comes through in every footy chat he has.
Brennan has blooded some good local juniors in his Toyota Cup reign and is on track to guide the Knights to their first Under 20’s finals appearance this season.
The coach would have been disgusted with Monday’s 54-6 collapse to the Broncos and will be keen for redemption at home to Cronulla on Sunday.
Join us from 11.30am EST on Fox Sports 2 as Braith Anasta and I call all the action.
No Norman, no worries...
Brisbane lost their Toyota Cup five-eighth Corey Norman to NRL on Monday night but didn’t the rest of the backline step up.
Fullback Lachlan Maranta and centres Dane Gagai and Dale Copley all scored two tries. Maranta and Gagai ran for nearly 150m each.
Brisbane will take some stopping by the Roosters in Gosford on Saturday, especially after the Tri-colours were ‘lapped’ in New Zealand.
As the Titans prepare to farewell NRL hooker Nathan Friend, some eyes will shift to NYC hooker Matt Srama.
The Friend look-a-like gives the Titans 20’s good direction and a dangerous dummy half runner.
He’s been a bright spot in Gold Coast’s otherwise disastrous Toyota Cup start.
Prop Paul Vaughan is having a happy time with Canberra.
He’s scored five tries from five games this season, including doubles in his last two.
He’ll be kicked out of the front rowers union if that doesn’t stop.