As with the Premiership, the key to success in finding the top try scorer in the Pro 14 is about finding the sweet spot of players who do not get international call-ups whilst also playing for top teams with enough creativity to give them regular try scoring chances.
That formula gave Barry Daly last season, and it’s no surprise that after his 12 tries he’s near the head of the market.
James Lowe, who scored seven tries in a fine debut season, is the favourite but appears short at 6/1 given the constant spectre of issues relating to his status as a non-European player. Lowe missed missed out on being involved in Leinster’s run to European glory last term after Luke McGrath’s availability was compromised by knee and ankle problems and now an injury to Nick McCarthy’s wrist means that Leo Cullen has to choose between Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe for the second foreign slot in the matchday squad. He’s chosen Gibson-Park for tonight’s trip to Cardiff and with McCarthy set to be back through the middle of September he could close valuable game time.
Daly’s 12 tries included a hat-trick against the Cheetahs and a double against the Southern Kings, and his ability to fill his boots against the weaker sides could give him a big chance once again here. He was called to the extended Ireland squad for Six Nations games against Scotland and England but we can him to play every week and he’s got a great relationship with Ross Byrne to boot, so the 12/1 makes a lot of each/way appeal.
Things can’t get much worse than they already have done at Ulster and with off field troubles put to one side it’s time for them to kick on and Craig Gilroy will be essential in that endeavour. Gilroy is a natural born try scorer with some of the best feet in the league and scored eight tries in a write off season before taking a brace against the Ospreys in the Champions Cup playoff.
He was placed in the two seasons before and should benefit from a settled squad with a confirmed new flyhalf at Ravenhill.
DTH Van Der Merwe is Glasgow’s record tryscorer who managed just the three appearances for Newcastle Falcons last year. Criminally underused – albeit in a very competitive environment – by Dean Richards last year, he is already in Dave Rennie’s plans and scored a try in pre-season against Northampton. He starts on the wing against Connacht tomorrow and could make hay this season.
The market for top point scorer is a fascinating one but the favourite might be the bet. John Cooney has stepped into the void left by Ruan Pienaar’s departure and the Ulster scrumhalf, who scored 160 points last season, can top the charts once again. Ulster should be aiming to do better than the last campaign and Cooney’s one focus is playing for his club with no threat of international call-ups unlike so many kickers on the list.
The Ospreys have picked Luke Price ahead of Sam Davies for their opener tonight which could be a sign of things to come. Jack Carty scored 131 last season and has to be considered although there are multiple kicking options at Connacht there. Owen Lane, a uniquely talented flyhalf who can also play the centre and the wing, is another interesting option for such honours but the second vote goes to Ross Byrne.
Byrne scored 106 points last season but he was sharing the duties at 10 last season with Joey Carbery and now he will be the number one choice for Leinster with Sexton needing watchful rest and Carbery at Munster. Leinster will be hard pushed to repeat the performances of last season but Bryne should be taking plenty of shots.
Advice – Top Regular Season Tryscorer
1 pt each/way Barry Daly (12/1 general)
1 pt each/way Craig Gilroy (16/1 general)
1 pt each/way DTH Van Der Merwe (16/1 Bet365)
Advice – Top Regular Season Pointscorer
2 pts John Cooney (5/1 Paddy Power)
1 pt Ross Bryne (7/1 Paddy Power)