- Final nominees added to LV= Breakthrough Player shortlist
- Ben Spencer and Tommy Taylor impressed in Round 4
Photo: Getty Images
Following the conclusion of the LV= Cup pool stages, the final four names have been added to the list of nominees for the LV= Breakthrough Player Award. Voting for the award is now officially open at LV.com/rugby.
Sale Sharks hooker Tommy Taylor and Saracens scrum half Ben Spencer made the list following their performances in their respective Round 4 games.
Taylor, 21, produced a barnstorming hour for Sale who edged out London Wasps 33-30 in the final pool stage, despite scoring five tries to the hosts’ three. The victory put Sale in the LV= Cup semi-finals, a much needed tonic for the Premiership’s bottom side according to Sharks chief Steve Diamond. Taylor made just four carries in the match but made a gain of 25 metres, breaking the line to dot down for a try. Another dominant carry followed as the 21-year-old defeated three defenders in total. At the lineout, he found his own players with 12 of 13 throws.
Sale will host Saracens in the second of the LV= Cup semi-finals, with Taylor likely to line up against fellow LV= Breakthrough Player Award nominee Ben Spencer.
The scrum half produced an assured performance with the boot against Worcester to keep the scoreboard ticking over, ensuring Saracens notched up the win needed to see them qualify for the semi finals on Sunday, March 10. As well as converting Ernst Joubert’s early try, Spencer also nudged over five penalties to keep the Warriors at bay. The 20-year-old has impressed ever since his arrival at Saracens from Cambridge and with more consistent and dominant performances like this he could find himself getting more and more game time for the Aviva Premiership side.
Nowell and Allen final two after outstanding performance statistics
Joining Taylor, Spencer and the current nominees looking to follow in the footsteps of Gloucester’s Jonny May – who won the LV= Breakthrough Player Award in its inaugural year last season – will be Exeter Chiefs full back Jack Nowell and Ospreys lock Morgan Allen, who both had outstanding performance statistics throughout the course of the pool stages of the competition.
Despite a four-point loss to Harlequins on Sunday at Bridgend, Ospreys find themselves with two players representing the Welsh region in the list of nominees, with Morgan Allen joining Sam Lewis.
The young No.8 was a model of consistency for the Ospreys in all four LV= Cup appearances this season, and can be regarded as one of the strongest ball runners in the loose with only two other forwards making more metres than him in attack. Allen was also busy in defence, completing 46 tackles in total – only three other men across the competition made more tackles than him.
Photo: Getty Images
Finally, Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Nowell completes the shortlist and is crowned the top back of the LV= Cup after the group stages, despite the Chiefs’ failure to make it to the semi finals.
The full back has constantly been a blight on opposition defences this season and was regarded as the top player in round four as his side saw off a strong Northampton Saints. The England U20s international averaged a gain of almost 100 metres per game in his four appearances, in which he played 320 minutes of rugby. He is the LV= Cup’s top metre-maker and has defeated more defenders than any other player.
Defenders beaten: 3
Initial breaks: 1
Tries scored: 1
Lineout success rate: 93%
Tries scored: 3
Average gain: 8.45
Clean breaks: 6
Defenders beaten: 20
Missed tackles: 2
Passing accuracy: 97%
Tackles (%): 2 (100%)
Kicking accuracy: 75%
Tries scored: 3
Average gain: 4.16
Clean breaks: 2
Defenders beaten: 11
Missed tackles: 4
About the LV= Cup Breakthrough Player Award
The LV= Cup Breakthrough Player Award was launched in September 2011 and is designed to recognise the wealth of impressive young talent on show in the competition. Gloucester’s Jonny May took home the inaugural title after making his mark in the competition last season.
Two players from each round, along with two players who have strong overall competition statistics will form a shortlist, which will be submitted to a fan vote on www.lv.com/rugby. Voting for the LV= Breakthrough Player is now open and closes after the second LV= Cup semi final. The winner is decided by a fan vote and will be announced prior to the LV=Cup Final. LV= will donate £1,000 to a grassroots rugby initiative of their choice.
To vote for your LV= Breakthrough Player, visit www.lv.com/rugby.