Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell looks at all the action from the Toyota Cup.
Dogged by unwanted headlines at NRL level, at least Canterbury has some bite in the Toyota Cup.
Andy Patmore and his players have just won seven games straight for the first time in their NYC history.
Twice last year they couldn’t get past six. But they've brought up the super seven now - and what a way to do it.
Trailing Cronulla 20-0, Canterbury went to halftime at 20-10 and surged in the second half to win 30-26.
Fullback Daniel Abou-Sleiman reminds me of Rod Silva and scored two tries during the game. Chris Centrone crossed twice in two minutes.
Lock Lachlan Burr was willing and fellow forwards Dale Finucane and Josh Jackson showed again why they could be first graders at the kennel for the next decade.
Finucane ran an incredible 283 metres and led the tackle count with 34. Jackson had 139 metres and 31 tackles, not to mention a break and brilliant pass to set up a try.
The Dogs love the duo’s playing ability but also the way they conduct themselves off the field.
Finucane, from Bega, is studying teaching and Jackson, from Dubbo via Mudgee, is doing exercise science at Uni.
They train hard, speak well, share a house... and are signed long term.
Footnote: Were it not for Canterbury’s comeback, this column would have led with high praise for Cronulla. For the first 30 minutes they played the best half hour of Toyota Cup rugby league I’ve seen. They completed every set, kicked well, attacked brilliantly – which yielded a Luke Pickerd double – and were a class above the Dogs. Unfortunately for the Sharks, games go for 80 minutes, not 30.
Three’s a crowd
Canterbury’s comeback and two upsets have left the Toyota Cup with three leaders.
For so long the Warriors and Melbourne have owned top spot but now they’ve been joined by the Dogs.
It probably won’t be so crowded for long. This week the Warriors host Melbourne.
The Warriors go into the game after their third loss of the season, which snapped a six-game winning streak. They went down 42-22 to the Cowboys, who didn’t score until the 31st minute but piled on eight tries through eight different scorers in the space of 45 minutes.
The Storm were beaten 60-20 – yes that’s right – by Wests Tigers. It was also the Storm’s third loss of the season.
Who will bounce back first? Find out on Fox Sports 2 from 11.45am EST on Sunday.
West going wild
At least the Toyota Cup is set to give Western Sydney something to celebrate in September.
Joining Canterbury’s Under 20s in the top half of the competition are Parramatta in 6th and Wests Tigers in 7th.
The Eels have been beaten only once in their last eight games and head to Canberra this week after a 30-16 win against Manly.
The Tigers meanwhile made a big statement by smashing Melbourne by 40 points.
Wouldn’t their NRL teams love a bit of that form?
Penrith is the only Western Sydney club outside the Top 8 in both grades. Come in, Gus.
I was disappointed to learn Garth Brennan won’t be at Newcastle as Toyota Cup coach next year.
Since he started playing Under 6’s in the Hunter, Brennan has been part of Newcastle rugby league – be it in the local competition or at the Knights.
He didn’t want to go and has great support from his players.
Expect them to step up in a bid to send their coach out with a finals campaign.
The Tigers’ 60 points against Melbourne provided their biggest win of the season.
Four of the 10 tries came from James Tedesco.
The SG Ball graduate had already caused a flurry of excited internet blogs before his Leichhardt haul and now we know why.
The last person to score four tries in one game for the Tigers was Jake Mullaney – the exceptional Toyota Cup fullback who broke all sort of records and remains the competition’s record scorer with 472 points from 40 games, including 42 tries.
With Mullaney now playing with Balmain Ryde in the NSW Cup, Tedesco is set to spice up the weekly serving from Wests Tigers.
It will be interesting to see what sort of damage the Wests Newcastle junior can do against Canterbury on Friday at Campbelltown.
Coast need golden boot
The Titans have underlined the importance of having a good goal kicker this season... or should that be the dangers of lacking one!
Souths and the Gold Coast scored five tries each on Saturday but the Bunnies won because the Titans kicked only 2/5.
It is the sixth time the Titans have matched or out-scored the opposition in terms of tries. Of those six games, they’ve only won two.
They kicked 1/3 in a 14-all draw with the Tigers. They kicked 0/4 in an 18-16 loss to Parramatta. It was 2/5 in a 26-24 loss to Canterbury. Souths won 28-24 as the Titans again landed 2/5.
The Titans are last but if you add the ‘lost’ seven points from above they’d be on the edge of the Top 8.
So far this season they’ve kicked 23 goals from 49 attempts.
In 14 games this year, they’ve only kicked above 50% in three of them.
You don’t often see a rugby league team scoring more tries than the opposition and being beaten but it’s happened twice to the Gold Coast.
They’ll need to be better on Saturday against Cronulla.
Brett Kimmorley and I will call all the action from 3.15pm EST on Fox Sports 2 as part of Super Saturday.