Fox Sports commentator Matt Russell looks at all the action from Round 16 of the Toyota Cup.
Born To Play
The NRL has been well served by Fijian flyers.
From Noa Nadruku to Akuila Uate. Don’t forget current Knights captain Wes Naiqama. What about Lote Tuqiri. And, of course, Marika Koroibete.
Koroibete is playing for the Tigers Under 20’s and presents as your typical Fijian.
Firstly he arrived at Wests Tigers late, only by a couple of months. Secondly that big smile is never far away. Thirdly he throws himself fearlessly at the defence, takes a lot of tackling and has blistering speed.
Koroibete started with a bang by scoring two tries on debut. He crossed again the following week... and the week after that.
Now he’s scored his first Toyota Cup hat-trick in a 22-18 win against the Bulldogs.
That’s seven tries in six games.
Interestingly, my Fox Sports colleague Brett Kimmorley was more fussed about Tigers centre David Nofoaluma.
His 15 runs resulted in 17 tackle breaks!
Koroibete and Nofoaluma are just two reasons the Tigers will return from this week’s bye full of confidence.
Try For Try
The race to be Toyota Cup leading try scorer shows no signs of easing.
Omar Slaimankhel took his tally to 16 in the Warriors 34-16 win against Melbourne.
Marmin Barba went to 15 in Parramatta’s loss to Canberra 40-30.
Barba has a game up his sleeve, against Brisbane on Friday night.
It’s been a dangerous week for throwing.
Dave Taylor was charged after his NRL tackle in Perth last Friday and Roosters Toyota Cup centre Cheyse Blair faces an even longer ban after Sunday’s win against Newcastle.
Hit with a Grade 4 offence, Blair’s penalty is six games, meaning he’ll be back for the last four rounds.
He’ll hope the Roosters – 12th, four points outside the Top 8 – are still in finals contention.
Cronulla and Gold Coast played an entertaining but brutal television game on Saturday.
The Sharks took the points but at a price with fringe NRL player Tyson Frizell forced off with a shoulder injury.
Frizell hasn’t missed a game all season but is long odds to play Souths at ‘Shark Park’ on Sunday.
It’s another TV game for Cronulla with Simon Woolford and me to call all the action from 11.30am EST.
On Saturday, Robbie Farah will make his Toyota Cup commentary debut at Penrith, when the Panthers host Canterbury from 3pm EST.
Both games on Fox Sports 2.
Outgoing Newcastle coach Garth Brennan is desperate for the Knights to make the Toyota Cup finals for the first time.
His dream is disappearing under a heavy injury toll, with centre Will Smith the latest player out for the season.
The other problem is consistency.
After beating Wests Tigers and Penrith, the Knights had a golden opportunity to build some momentum against the Roosters.
Instead, they fell 26-14 and sent the boss back to the drawing board.
On The March
Newcastle has a tough trip to meet St George Illawarra on Sunday.
The Dragons Under 20’s made it three straight wins for the first time this season by belting Manly on Monday.
They are two wins outside the Top 8 but have time and a bye on their side.
Back On The Horse
The Cowboys have responded to their shock loss against Manly in the best way possible.
A week after the upset, they put 42 points on the Warriors with eight different try scorers.
This week it was 46 points against Penrith with eight different try scorers.
If courage counts, Canberra will make the Top 8 for the fourth year in a row.
Despite being decimated by NRL promotions and injuries, the Raiders have fought hard to draw with Brisbane and beat Parramatta.
Remember Canberra and the Warriors are the only clubs NEVER to miss the Toyota Cup finals.
Ash Clouds Storm Season
Before a volcano in Chile let loose, Melbourne’s Under 20’s had lost only two games and were playing some great rugby league.
Then flight chaos forced them to host the Roosters on a Wednesday afternoon, which they won 28-20.
Four days later they had to back up in Sydney and were belted 60-20.
A week later they flew to New Zealand and were toppled by the Warriors 34-16.
Back to back losses for the first time this season, no doubt partly explained by the unexpected mid-week move in Round 14.
At least Dean Pay and his men have a bye this week to re-group.
Then they have six of their last nine games on the road!
In A Hurrell
The outstanding form of Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell shows no signs of stopping.
Against Melbourne, Hurrell ran for 211 metres and broke 12 tackles in the process.
Freshened up by this week’s bye, he’ll take some stopping against the Gold Coast in Round 18.