English rugby’s Gallagher Premiership starts on Friday. Saracens are the defending champions beating regular season table toppers Exeter in the Play off final in May. Saracens and Exeter, perhaps challenged by Wasps should be at the head of affairs again, the strongest squads in a salary cap system where rising player salaries (competition from the French top 14 notably) is reducing depth of quality across the board. I was tempted to make the case for Wasps at 7-1 in the outright market but still feel that a side that conceded 150 points more than Saracens and Exeter over 22 regular season games last season lacks the defensive solidity of the top two sides.
Instead I turned to look at the top try scorer market and in particular at the Fijian Vereniki Goneva at the Newcastle Falcons the 2017-18 Aviva (previous league sponsor) Premiership player of the season. A star of the sevens game for many seasons he has now scored 53 tries in 100 Premiership appearances, mostly for Leicester Tigers until his move to Newcastle two seasons ago.
Last season he was joint top league try scorer with 13 in 19 appearances for a side that finished 4th in the league and lost in the play-off semi-finals.
Goneva is 34 but his coach Dean Richards said at the time of a recent contract extension
“He defies the ageing process with the physical condition he keeps himself in, he is a phenomenal athlete but also has a thorough understanding of the game and how he can influence it. He is right up there in the world-class bracket when it comes to finishing.”
As a team Newcastle scored 55 league tries last season at least 20 fewer than the top sides, and this perhaps accounts for why Goneva is priced up at 16-1 here opposed to the favourite Christian Wade of Wasps, another of the joint league try scorers last season who is 5-1 favourite in what could be a prolific Wasps side
This of course won’t be the most liquid of markets, but the each way terms of 1/4 1,2,3,4 are sensible and if he stays fit Goneva should be in the frame again
Vereniki Goneva Top Gallagher Premiership Try scorer 16-1 each way Betfair Sportsbook/Paddy Power 12-1 Skybet 1/4 1,2,3,4