Toyota Cheetahs fullback Rhyno Smith was officially crowned the top-try scorer in the 2019/20 Guinness PRO14 season on Tuesday following the conclusion of the pool stages this past weekend, making him the second South African in as many seasons to achieve this feat.
Smith racked up an impressive 10 tries in 13 matches before the COVID-19 pandemic brought their season to a grinding halt, leaving him only four tries short the competition’s season record set by his former Toyota Cheetahs team-mate Rabz Maxwane last season.
Making this achievement particularly remarkable is the fact that Maxwane’s record - which he shares with former Edinburgh speedster Tim Visser - was set in a full season of 21 matches.
Six of Smith's tries were scored in only four matches in South Africa, with the other four being on tour.
The other winners in the various categories are:
Gilbert Golden Boot | JJ Hanrahan (Munster)
Munster’s JJ Hanrahan has been a crucial performer in his team’s path to the Guinness PRO14 Semi-Finals with his place-kicking coming to the fore. Hanrahan’s accuracy off the tee was 90.91% as he converted 50 kicks from 55 attempts. The Munster out-half has scored 121 points in 14 appearances this season.
Big Red Cloud Turnover King | Josh MacLeod (Scarlets)
The West Wales region has a strong pedigree for snaffling the ball away from the opposition at the breakdown with James Davies and ex-Scarlet Tadhg Beirne appearing high in the turnover charts in the past couple of seasons. In the absence of Davies during this campaign, MacLeod has performed strongly at openside picking 23 turnovers to earn the Big Red Cloud Turnover King award.
Ronseal Tackle Machine | Paul Boyle (Connacht)
Connacht’s young back-rower is becoming well known around the Guinness PRO14 and should be in contention for the Next-Gen Star of the Season award. Providing strength and reliability from No 8, Boyle has been fearsome in defence with a remarkable 98.3% tackle completion rate from his 179 tackles attempted to earn him the title of Ronseal Tackle Machine.
Ironman Award | Matthew Screech (Dragons)
Playing in all 15 of Dragons’ Guinness PRO14 fixtures wasn’t enough for second-row Matthew Screech who was on the pitch 1,161 minutes out of a possible 1,200. Director of Rugby Dean Ryan has brought a feel-good factor to Dragons who have just had their place in the Champions Cup confirmed and the reliability of Screech will add to their options for the new campaign.