Next Gen: Knights rack up a century
What a win!
Jason Taylor’s Sydney Roosters are flying in the Toyota Cup. The Bondi Boys made it six in a row by belting the Bulldogs 50-8 last Saturday.
It shouldn’t be dismissed as just another Toyota Cup blowout.
Canterbury entered the round as the best defensive team in the competition, having given up only 330 points at an average of 18 per game.
That defence couldn’t stop the Roosters, left, right or centre.
The 42-point win was their biggest of 2011. They were just short of the 48 needed to equal the all-time records of Roosters’ biggest win and Dogs’ heaviest loss.
Twice in this streak have the Roosters reached 50 points and the last two wins have come against top-eight teams. They are expected to put another big score on Manly at Brookvale on Sunday.
Why are the Roosters going so well? Halves Jack Littlejohn and Ryley Jacks have a great combination and an exciting backline to feed. Prop Kane Evans scored two tries last weekend to continue the form that saw him made 18th man for NRL recently. Back rower Ethan Lowe has scored six tries in his last five games. The big bodies of Brandon Tago and Tai Tuivasa provide great impact off the bench.
Friends in high places
It was great to have Tigers captain Robbie Farah as co-commentator at the Roosters-Bulldogs game on Saturday.
Feeling cheeky, he suggested referee Gavin Reynolds looked a bit like NSW and Cronulla captain Paul Gallen – an observation that’s been made by others before.
A moment later, Robbie’s phone lit up with a message directing him to “cut it out”.
The message ID... Gal! Great to have him watching Generation Next.
Sunday... bloody Sunday.
Cricket season came early on Sunday when every Toyota Cup winner scored a half-century.
The Warriors put 50 on Canberra and now have the best attacking AND defensive records in the competition. Their average score in 2011 is an incredible 37-19.
It also saw Omar Slaimankhel extend his advantage as the competition’s leading tryscorer. A double lifted him to 23. To put it in perspective, Ben Barba leads the NRL with 15.
The Warriors can all but end Brisbane’s finals hopes at Suncorp on Saturday.
Newcastle scored 52 against the Titans as Tyrone Roberts, Matt Ireland and Chad Redman scored doubles.
It set up a big afternoon at Ausgrid Stadium when the Knights NRL players also celebrated a 50-point haul.
It is only the second time a club has “raised the bat” in both grades.
The other time was Round 1, 2009 when South Sydney downed the Roosters 50-14 in Toyota Cup and 52-12 in NRL.
Corrimal High School student and recently selected Australian Schoolboy Evander Cummins had 25 runs for 298m and 12 tackle breaks as St George Illawarra posted 52 points against Souths.
Oh, he also scored two tries as fullback. Prop Jarrod Thompson and hooker Mark Asquith also scored doubles to make sure the forwards didn’t miss out.
Food for thought #1.
Through 20 rounds of this season, the NRL was averaging 33.95 points per game and the Toyota Cup 46.71. So the Toyota Cup is averaging 37% more points than NRL, or about three more tries per game, or one extra converted try per half.
Amid the lopsided scores in the middle of Round 20 were thrillers at either end.
Despite leading 28-12 at halftime, Cronulla needed a 79th minute field goal from Penani Manumalealii to beat Brisbane 35-34 on Friday.
Like the Roosters, the Sharks are on a six-game winning streak, to sit second behind the Warriors.
Then on Monday, Melbourne led Parramatta 16-4 at halftime, only to be beaten 23-22 by a 76th minute field goal from Jason Wehbe.
Crucially, the win lifted Parramatta into eighth and confined Melbourne to fourth instead of second.
This Saturday, Melbourne is back home against Penrith in a game you can see on Fox Sports 2 from 3pm EST.
Food for thought #2.
Toyota Cup has no extra time and has featured six drawn games so far during 2011.
The NRL has gone to golden point seven times during 2011 with just one of them then finishing in a deadlock – Eels v Dragons 14-all in Round 13. The other six have all been decided by field goal.
Five teams are set to fight out the final position in this year’s top eight. Holding that spot at the moment is Parramatta on 23 points. Behind them, St George Illawarra 22, Brisbane 21, Newcastle 21 and Canberra 19 are still alive.
Newcastle hosts Canberra on Sunday, in what is surely the final chance for the Raiders. Remember the Knights have never made the finals and Canberra is yet to miss. You can see that game on Fox Sports 2 from 11.30am EST.
The Dragons and Broncos have tough jobs against Wests Tigers and the Warriors respectively.
Parramatta will be expected to beat Souths, only adding to the pressure on the chasing teams.