Betting Ahead: Hunting Top Try Scorer Value
A change to the rules and early-season rust has seen a dip in scoring to start the 2022 NRL season. Teams are no longer running riot for lengthy periods and setting up their wingers to score multiple tries every week. There is a contest and genuine uncertainty in which team will win and who will score in most matches.
Ryan Papenhuyzen tops the try-scoring list right now but it's difficult to see him still being there after Round 25. Taylan May has made his mark on the competition already but is no guarantee of being in the first-choice 17 every week all year. Meanwhile, the Sharks have impressed to start the year but have two elite finishers who can split the meat pies.
There's still some value in the Top Try Scorer market this year, so let's go hunting. All odds referenced in this piece can be found at TopSport.
Ryan Papenhuyzen - $5
Ryan Papenhuyzen tops the list with eight tries already this season and is the favourite to end the year as the top try scorer through six rounds. The Melbourne Storm fullback pulled out in front with four tries in one game, but he has scored in five of the six games played this season.
Papenhuyzen is one of the most active support players in the competition. He's constantly sniffing around the ball for his 7.3 supports per game and has a keen eye for opportunities through the middle ahead of time. However, unlike other traditional supporting fullbacks, Papenhuyzen also often finds himself on the edges sending wingers down the sideline before receiving the ball back on the inside. His speed allows him to keep up with the play wherever it is and few teams fall into shape better than the Storm.
We were in a similar spot last year when Papenhuyzen picked up eight tries in his first six games before missing 11 of the Storm's next 12 games.
His try-scoring rate doesn't appear to be sustainable but he does have a tendency to score in bunches. Playing within the second-best attack in the NRL and sure to be on the happy end of a few thrashings, there is a good chance Papenhuyzen continues to cross the line with the odd double and hattrick making up for a quiet week here and there.
Alex Johnston's 30 tries in 2021 are an outlier. The top try scorer typically scores between 21 and 23 tries throughout the season and that's a number Papenhuyzen can hit following his hot start but his current $5 is a little bit short at the moment.
Notably, Storm winger Xavier Coates is just behind Papenhuyzen at $8. At a new club and trying to find his place in a group featuring Justin Olam and Reimis Smith, Coates has only three tries to his name through six rounds.
Taylan May - $11
Taylan May has burst onto the scene this season in place of Brian To’o. The 20-year-old is scoring tries for fun to have seven in four games and is second in yardage averaging 179.1 metres per game.
Given his nose for the line and willingness to dig in and generate running metres, May is the perfect replacement for To’o who is due back in Round 9.
As well as May has played, he won’t retain the left wing position when the incumbent is fit. To'o is a State of Origin representative, and while he could play either side of the field, he is a proven performer on the left and the Panthers will be reluctant to shift him. However, May could replace Charlie Staines on the right wing.
Should May remain in the side it's unlikely that he continues his try-scoring ways.
No team has scored more tries down the left edge than Penrith’s 18 this season and no team scores a higher proportion of tries anywhere on field than their 56% on that side. Nathan Cleary’s absence and a reliance on Jarome Luai will have a lot to do with their left-heavy attack to start the year, but it’s not new to 2022. The Panthers scored 44% of their tries on the left and 36% on the right last season.
May has a long future in the NRL and it won't be a surprise to see him receive the Ken Irvine Medal at some stage in his career, but he's not a top try scorer candidate in his rookie season.
Sione Katoa - $15 & Ronaldo Mulitalo $23
The Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks are one of the best-attacking teams in the NRL right now. Their 23.2 points per game ranks 4th in the NRL and still has room for improvement.
They’ve introduced a new attacking structure along with a new on-ball halfback touching the ball over 60 times per game. Still, they’re making it look easy at times with Sione Katoa and Ronaldo Mulitalo benefiting for nine tries between them already.
The Sharks have looked left for 46% of their tries so far this season but Katoa is the Top Try Scorer threat. He’s an incredible finisher and Fitzgibbon’s slingshot attack is set up perfectly for Katoa to slide over in the corner.
While they only scored 18 points against the Storm in Round 6, the Sharks left one or two tries out there. Katoa missed the game and more than likely would have converted one of the missed opportunities if not two.
He does have a history of injuries and did miss the last game with a knee issue. However, Katoa is named to return for Round 7 and if he can stay healthy through to Round 25, he is set to be the main beneficiary of this high-powered and still-improving Sharks attack.
Mulitalo is another consideration but is a chance of being moved around throughout the year. He started the season in the centres and will be an option there should injuries strike. A move one position in will greatly reduce Mulitalo's influence as a try scorer.
The Sharks left edge is producing plenty of points and Mulitalo has scored four tries in three-and-a-half games on the wing. Like Katoa, the 22-year-old is a top tier finisher. But the Sharks have leaned towards the right edge for 44% of their tries across the last three seasons and the expectation is for them to score more tries down Katoa's side than Mulitalo's side by the end of the year.
Right now, Katoa's $15 appeals more than anything else.
Ken Maumalo - $34
Digging deep into the roughies, Ken Maumalo has quietly scored five tries in five games so far in 2022. While it’s only good for 10th in the NRL right now, it’s an impressive effort within a side that has won only one game all season while averaging 10.5 points per game.
Big Ken's current 118 running metres per game is the lowest of his seven-year NRL career but the Tigers are looking for him close to the line. He has scored 45% of Wests tries through six rounds and is a clear target of the attack in good ball.
Wests put in an impressive performance to beat the Eels in Round 6. They displayed plenty of positive signs and showed they can compete on their day. However, putting it together consistently is their next challenge. Until then, Maumalo will remain at the rough end of the market.
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