Predictions for 2019/20 season: Champions, most tries, most minutes

Andy Baber
26 September 2019

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The long wait is almost over. The Guinness PRO14 returns this weekend for what promises to be another blockbuster season.

All roads lead to the Cardiff City Stadium in June where the Guinness PRO14 Final will take place next year.

But before the opening round of action, our writer Charlie Talbot-Smith has his say on how he predicts the season will unfold – something you can also do on Predcitor, via the app.

Who will win the Guinness PRO14?

It’s hard to look past Leinster, the two-time defending champions. But they will have to work their way back up to speed this year after the World Cup.

So my tip would be Glasgow Warriors, they are improving year on year under Dave Rennie, came so close last year and while they have lost Stuart Hogg have a conveyor belt of young talent that keeps delivering.

Who will score the most tries?

I expect the Toyota Cheetahs to finish up on top of this statistic this season.

Unhampered by international call-ups, and with their free-flowing attacking style, they should be the league’s great entertainers once again.

Rabz Maxwane will go close as the top individual try scorer once again, but keep an eye out for Ulster’s Michael Lowry who lit up the second half of last season.

Honourable mentions to Leonardo Sarto who is a try machine if he can get back to the form and fitness of old at Benetton while also in Italy, Charlie Walker’s sidesteps will keep defenders missing all season long.

Play the most minutes?

Tian Schoeman was the Iron Man last campaign, but fitness is such a tough one to predict.

The South African sides rotate less than anyone else on previous evidence and the backs normally stay on the field for longer than forwards.

So while someone like Stephen Archer is Mr Consistent for Munster, I am tempted by Masixole Banda of the Isuzu Southern Kings.

Score the most points?

Jack Carty finished on top last year, but his Ireland call-ups mean he might not have as many chances this year.

Jaco van der Walt is deadly from the tee and if Edinburgh improve on last year, he could well be in contention.

But I am going to go with Sam Davies of the Dragons, the new fly-half at Rodney Parade will be the main man and keen to put the region back on the front foot.

A special mention too for Ruan Pienaar, back in the Guinness PRO14 with the Cheetahs and still laser accurate from the tee.

Most away wins?

On the sly, Ulster were one of the best road teams last season.

They were one of very few teams to go to Treviso and bring back a victory, while they also went to South Africa twice and emerged undefeated.

They are an up and coming force under Dan McFarland, have not been hit as hard as the other provinces by call-ups to Japan, and should challenge at the sharp end of the campaign.

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