RUGBY UNION: ENGLAND JOB'S ALL YOURS, CIPRIANI; Danny Kicks 11 Points but Can't Save Wasps GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP

The Mirror (London, England), October 2, 2008 | Go to article overview

RUGBY UNION: ENGLAND JOB'S ALL YOURS, CIPRIANI; Danny Kicks 11 Points but Can't Save Wasps GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP


Byline: BY ALEX SPINK Rugby Correspondent

Wasps 23 Bath 27

DANNY CIPRIANI came through his comeback unscathed last night as luckless rival Jonny Wilkinson was told to forget playing for England this autumn.

A full six weeks ahead of schedule Wasps' star fly-half made an impressive return from the sickening ankle injury he suffered in May on the same pitch against the same opposition.

The 20-year-old landed four of his five kicks at goal and had a hand in Wasps' first try before being substituted to wild applause after 53 minutes.

The feeling of relief for England boss Martin Johnson was obvious on the day Wilkinson was ruled out of the four autumn Tests after his scan revealed a dislocated kneecap.

It is devastating news for the injury-cursed Newcastle ace, who will seek further specialist advice to find out whether or not surgery is necessary.

Either way he can expect to see his England shirt being worn by someone else in November and all of a sudden - against all odds - the favourite is Cipriani.

The young Londoner, playing with metal pins and a plate in his rebuilt right ankle, showed remarkably few signs of his four-month lay-off at a packed Adams Park.

Wearing his trademark black scrum cap he threw himself into fierce Guinness Premiership traffic, banishing any mental demons he might have harboured.

He had promised he would return fitter, faster and stronger and the early signs were encouraging, despite being at fault for Bath's first try - failing to field a high ball which led to Michael Claassens' try.

Wasps' usually watertight defence was breached for the second time inside the first 15 minutes when Matt Stevens powered through Raphael Ibanez to open up a useful 12-point lead.

But then Cipriani wonderfully found his feet, settling Wasps with two penalty strikes - which would have been three had referee Sean Davey not overruled his two touch judges. …

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