The results of the Man of the Match award for the game on Saturday are as follows:
- Phil Nilsen – 24%
- Will Maisey – 13%
- Rob Knox – 11%
- James Stokes – 10%
- Anthony Matoto – 10%
Congratulations to Phil Nilsen…doubly so given that he also won the club’s official ‘ Man of the Match award which tends not always to be the case in these polls, with the supporters quite often seeing things rather differently to the sponsors.
I have to say I have sometimes been mildy surprised with some of the sponsors’ MofM awards, but even though I haven’t always voted for the player who wins the blog poll, I’ve never had reason to think it an odd decision. Quite often voting after the game, sometimes several hours later, gives you a chance to reflect a little more than during the game when there are other factors that might influence your decision…
No bottle of champagne for Phil on this occasion I’m afraid, no photo with the Chairman either, just the knowledge that this win is result of the votes cast by supporters, something that is always extra special.
I don’t usual include 4th and 5th places, but for this poll I thought it might be interesting to do so as on a day when the weather was foul and the pitch was as heavy as it’s been for many a year, 4 of the top 5 places went to the backs, something that would have seemed highly improbable before the game. It’s shows the quality of the rugby we played in some respects, with the forwards able to deliver good ball that gave the backs the opportunity to unlock the Esher defence with relative ease at times.
This is the second award won by a hooker this season, with Scott Tolmie successful against Plymouth Albion.
However, whereas Scott tends to impress most when he’s playing almost as an extra flanker, standing off the rucks and mauls and bulldozing his way through opposition defences, Phil strength seems to be more at close quarters, winning the hard yards in attack and, in defence, making the tackles and working tirelessly in the mauls. In rucks, he’s often one of the first in and even more often one of the last up.
And that’s something that Cov supporters have always warmed to…the tough, no nonsense approach.
A team player who won’t let you down.
Different skill sets maybe from the two hookers, but both exceptionally good players at this level.
On Saturday Phil’s was as good a display at 2 as we’ve seen all season. The lineouts were pretty near perfect, the scrum solid and it was an 80 minute performance, capped off by his fifth try of the season.
Such is his fitness, Rowland Winter has, on several occasions, had the luxury of bringing Scott Tolmie off the bench to cover the back row, knowing that Phil will last the game.
I’m not sure it would work the other way round, highlighting the differences perhaps between the two players.
The extraordinary thing is, for a player who was awarded the honour of a place in the Greene King IPA Championship Dream Team last season, who played over 200 games for Leeds Carnegie where he was also voted Supporters’ Player of the Season and was only the second player in the club’s history to be awarded a testimonial – despite all that, in 17 years Phil had never previously won a Man of the Match award.
Even as I write that I find it hard to imagine.
And he was clearly a happy chappie after the game, tweeting:
— Phil Nilsen (@philnilsen) January 21, 2018
and from Phil’s wife:
GET IN THERE!! It may have taken 17 years but was worth the wait. Congrats @philnilsen on man of the month. Thanks @CoventryRugby for being the breathe of fresh rugby air we needed!! #Congratulations #CovRugby pic.twitter.com/rT3PpJDXS7
— S (@Salfopms) January 20, 2018
Phil has become a really popular member of the squad and the club is benefiting from having two Championship quality hookers at its disposal – there’s surely no other team in National One has that kind of quality available. Scott has been a revelation since his arrival here and has become a firm favourite with supporters…Phil is another in that mould.
Between the two of them, they’ve scored an impressive 16 tries, which makes the No 2 shirt the most prolific in the club as far as tries are concerned this season. I remember reading a piece on Matt Price in which he stated was hoping to get the occasional game this season, but such is the form of Phil and Scott, Matt hasn’t really been able to get a look in.
One of the things that has really impressed me about Phil is that he’s arrived at the BPA from a club that was pushing for Premiership rugby last season, and had previously been in the top-tier, with all the benefits associated with being a professional player at that level, yet he has only good things to say about what he’s seen so far at Cov.
Whilst it’s obviously a step down for Phil, and even though he’d spent his whole career at the one club prior to his move here, he appears to have fitted in exceptionally well.
He loves the club and the supporters love him, too.
Well done, Phil…the first of several such awards, I hope.
Good to see Will Maisey feature in the MotM polls for the first time – his absence from the top 3 in previous polls is something of a surprise to me given the way he has learned to control a game. I’d have money on him winning one of the weekly polls outright before the end of the season, more than likely when he kicks an injury time conversion from the touchline to beat Darlington, given previous close contests in which he has had the final say.
I was excited on his return to Cov, but I’d have to hold my hand up and say I didn’t think he’d make the impact that he has – and he’s such a nice guy with it.
Rob Knox has featured in the poll once before, when he came second against Moseley in the pre-Christmas win. Rob has looked a different player this season, physically bigger I reckon, less worried by injuries and confident to do what he does best and that’s take the game to the opposition.
I think it took a while for him to settle out wide, and credit must go to the coaches for seeing his potential there as I’m not altogether sure Rob was convinced that was the best place for him initially. The Knox, Trimble, Stokes triumvirate is proving really effective and better still, bringing real excitement back to the game. You only had to listen to the reception the supporters gave him on Saturday as he was taken off towards the end of the game to see just what a popular figure he is at the BPA.
He should have given Gully that hug though…
I’ve updated the tables below and at some stage over the next few days I’ll
have a go at using the scoring system suggested by Richard S, just to see if that is a better indication of the spread of MofM awards…
A table based simple on the number of appearances in the top three would now look like this:
However, to give weighting to the relative positions, I’ve given 3 points for a first place in the poll, 2 for a second and 1 for a third. Clearly coming first in a weekly poll is more of an achievement than coming second.
By applying the weighting, the table now looks very different…
(Latu Makaafi, for instance, has a second and three thirds which under the system I’ve opted to use gives him 5 points (2+1+1+1).
Player Weighted Score
John Coles has again kindly forwarded to me the photos he took from the Esher game on Saturday. I can only re-iterate just how grateful I am and how much more they add to post-match discussions. I’ve included a selection below and a few comments where appropriate:
Next is the sequence of photos capturing Max Trimble’s first try , showing his control at pace and what a great all-round footballer he is…Max is on fire again at the moment.