- Final four added to LV= Breakthrough Player Award shortlist
- Voting now open at www.lv.com/rugby
Photo: Getty Images
With the LV= Cup semi-finalists confirmed, the last two nominees for this season’s LV= Breakthrough Player Award have joined the shortlist, and will be put to a public vote on www.LV.com/rugby.
Two Welsh representatives complete the final eight with Dan Baker, Ospreys and Owen Williams of Cardiff Blues joining the shortlist. They are accompanied by wildcard nominees Ollie Devoto of Bath Rugby and Saracens’ Matt Hankin, who recorded the best overall statistics for a back and forward respectively, throughout the LV= Cup pool stages.
Fans have until March 10 to cast their vote for this year’s award. The 2014 LV= Breakthrough Player Award winner will be announced prior to the LV=Cup Final at Sandy Park, Exeter on March 16 and LV= will donate £1,000 to a grassroots rugby initiative of the winner's choice.
Joining the list of LV= Breakthrough Player Award nominees are:
Dan Baker, Ospreys (21, back row)
In a high-scoring and entertaining affair, Ospreys edged out Sale on Friday evening. Despite the visitors having their backs to the wall with far less possession, the Sharks outscored Ospreys five tries to four but were ultimately outgunned by the sheer power of the Welsh region. At the forefront of the Ospreys’ attacking prowess was number 8 Dan Baker, who managed an incredible nine defenders beaten from 14 carries. This included an initial break and try scored, while in total he gained 58 metres; an average gain of over four metres per carry. In defence he was nearly almost faultless, missing just one of eight attempted tackles.
Carries – 14
Metres – 58
Defenders beaten – 9
Initial breaks – 1
Tackles – 7/8
Tries – 1
Owen Williams, Cardiff Blues (22, centre)
Owen Williams already has four international caps to his name and is already making himself a household name in Welsh rugby. Though not involved in Wales’ RBS 6 Nations 2014 campaign at the moment, the Cardiff player continued to enhance his reputation in the Blues’ 35-5 demolition of Harlequins on Friday evening. Though not on the score sheet himself, Williams assisted a try, beat three defenders and made three initial breaks. He was one of just five players to gain over 100 metres over the course of the weekend, with a remarkable average gain of 14.9 metres per carry. In defence he made 5/7 tackles and won turnover ball through a jackal.
His match stats are below:
Carries – 7
Metres – 104
Defenders beaten – 3
Initial breaks – 3
Try assists – 1
Ollie Devoto, Bath Rugby (20, utility back)
Despite Devoto’s young age he has already made a serious impression at The Rec with a series of accomplished performances both in the LV= Cup and also in the Premiership. In the Cup this season he has consistently turned in all-round performances. In attack he has made 67 metres from 23 carries, proving his ability to beat defenders (four) and bring teammates into play (five offloads) in the process. A tackle success rate of 90% shows his strength in defence and paired with three turnovers won and you can see why there is a buzz down in Bath about this youngster.
Carries – 23
Metres – 67
Defenders beaten – 4
Offloads – 5
Tackles – 37
Tackles % – 90%
Turnovers won – 3
Matt Hankin, Saracens (20, flanker)
Hankin has been the standout defensive player in the LV= Cup this season, making the joint most tackles of any player in the competition and still achieving a success rate of 92%. The England age-group player has also pitched in with five turnovers won (joint-fifth most) and made 35 metres from 19 carries, crossing for a try against Scarlets in the process. Having gained some good game time in the LV= Cup this season he will be hopeful of securing some minutes under his belt in the Premiership before the season is over.
His match stats are below:
Carries – 19
Metres – 35
Tackles – 45
Tackle % – 92%
Turnovers won – 5
2013/14 LV= Breakthrough Player nominees:
Round 1: Jonah Holmes (London Wasps) and Harry Thacker (Leicester Tigers)
Round 2: Sam Jones (London Wasps) and Ben Ransom (Saracens)
Round 3: Zach Kibirige (Newcastle Falcons) and Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs)
Round 4: Dan Barker (Ospreys) and Owen Williams (Cardiff Blues)
Wildcard nominees: Ollie Devoto (Bath) and Matt Hankin (Saracens)
The LV=Cup, watch the next generation break through. For more information on the LV= Breakthrough Player Award and voting, visit www.LV.com/rugby.
Photo: Getty Images
About the LV= Breakthrough Player Award
Launched in September 2011, the LV= Breakthrough Player Award is designed to recognise the wealth of impressive young talent on show in the competition. Two players from each round, along with two "wildcard" players, who have strong overall competition statistics compiled by Opta, form the shortlist, which is submitted to a fan vote on www.lv.com/rugby.
Fans will vote for the winner of the LV= Breakthrough Player Award from the end of Round Four until 9am on Monday, March 10. The winner will be announced prior to the LV= Cup Final and LV= will donate £1,000 to a grassroots rugby initiative of the winner's choice.