Picking the top try scorer in the Champions Cup this year looks tough as ever, with pools very evenly matched. There are plenty of potential qualifiers through the runners-up spot and tries are being scored at an ever-higher rate in the Premiership this season, indicating a very open European rugby culture.
The obvious place to look is the defending Champions Leinster, who swept all before them last season. Their tries were very much shared around, however, so it’s not easy to pick just one of the many options, but wingers tend to dominate in this competition and James Lowe, who scored seven tries in the Pro 14 last season before missing out on the knockout stages due to eligibility rules, is the most tempting of the many choices in blue. Lowe has not put a foot wrong since arriving from the Chiefs and in the shape of Garry Ringrose and Robbie Henshaw, has two of the best centres in the tournament to supply him, playing outside of Johnny Sexton. It is also highly likely he plays at least six games according to tournament odds of 9/4, a key element to finding the winner in most seasons.
Montpellier were knocked out of the Cup early last season, being one of three teams to succumb to Leinster, but now they are just 4/5 to take their pool, facing a Toulon side whom they have already beaten at the Altrad first up tomorrow.
Nemani Nadolo took joint honours last year (along with Sam Davies of the Ospreys’) entirely through the pool stages but he is now out FOR four months after knee surgery, opening up a chance for the backline. Montpellier did score 18 tries last season despite going out at the pool stages so they can get over the line and Benjamin Fall makes appeal.
The Frenchman has been named on the wing for their encounter against Edinburgh at the Altrad tomorrow and has already scored three tries so far – Edinburgh have lost all three away games and conceded 11 tries in doing so.
Saracens are in the same position as Leinster, with two fantastic wingers starting today in the shape of Sean Maitland and David Strettle, although the limitless amount of options they have – and the fact that forwards frequently get in on the act – does make it tricky to line up a potential punt. Liam Williams doesn’t even get into the starting XV for them against Glasgow tomorrow, but the Welsh back – who can play across the backline – already has six tries in the Premiership and will surely get starts at some point in the pool stages – and any knockout games.
Racing are in a very competitive pool and didn’t top their section last season before making the final, but they score plenty of tries and Simon Zebo has already settled down well there. The Irishman has six tries in the Top 14 so far this season and whilst there’s plenty of backline competition from Juan Imhoff, he has already shown that he’s got what it takes to compete with the very best. A strong pool isn’t a put-off – Racing have already played Clermont, Lyon and Castres in France this season.
2 pts each/way James Lowe (10/1 general)
1 pt each/way Benjamin Fall (33/1 general)
1 pt each/way Liam Williams (20/1 Boylesports)
1 pt each/way Simon Zebo (16/1 general)