Danny Cipriani looks set to miss England’s tour to New Zealand after sustaining a suspected dislocated ankle in Wasps’ GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP semi-final victory over Bath.
Cipriani was tackled by Ollie Barkley in the 49th minute and found himself at the bottom of a ruck, shouting out in pain as England manager Martin Johnson watched from the stands Medics arrived immediately and gave the 20-year-old fly-half oxygen treatment before he was carried off on a stretcher and taken to hospital by ambulance.
Cipriani was set to start in the number 10 jersey against the All Blacks after starring in England’s RBS 6 Nations finale against Ireland. He had ousted World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson as England’s first choice fly-half but if Wasps’ worst fears are realised he now faces a lengthy spell of rehabilitation.
The incident, which television cameras opted not to replay, overshadowed what should have been a memorable occasion for skipper Lawrence Dallaglio.
Dallaglio retires at the end of the season and Sunday’s victory means he will bring down the curtain on his illustrious career at Twickenham after Wasps battled their way into the Premiership final.
The 35-year-old left the pitch to a standing ovation in the 66th minute and will make his last appearance against Gloucester or Leicester in two weeks’ time. It was Dallaglio’s Adams Park farewell and an emotional occasion for the former England captain, who has spent his entire 18-year career at Wasps.
Bath controlled long spells of the match and when Alex Crockett crossed early on Wasps – traditionally slow starters – looked in trouble. But Ian McGeechan’s side responded magnificently with Fraser Waters, Riki Flutey and Tom Palmer crossing in a brutal contest that left both teams battered and bruised.
Bath’s cause was not helped when Barkley missed two kickable early penalties, leaving them with little reward from a dominant first quarter.
Worryingly for Wasps their scrum – missing front rows Phil Vickery and Raphael Ibanez to injury – was collapsing repeatedly in a testing opening for the reigning Heineken Cup champions. It seemed only a matter of time before their defence cracked and the moment came in the 27th minute when centre Crockett dived on a dropped pass by Josh Lewsey.
Lewsey, stood in the in-goal area, took his eye off the ball as Bath pressed, giving Crockett a golden opportunity he gratefully accepted. Barkley converted but Wasps’ response was emphatic with a bulldozing run from man of the match James Haskell setting up the initial field position
But the real magic came from Flutey, whose superb delayed pass found Waters at full speed on a angle that sliced the Bath backline wide open.
Cipriani converted Waters’ try and in the 36th minute Flutey turned from provider to scorer when he picked up and drove over after Sackey had almost crossed himself.
Once again Cipriani added the two points to give Wasps a 14-7 lead at the interval.
Play was held up for several minutes in the second half as Cipriani received treatment on his serious injury and shortly after it had resumed Barkley landed a penalty.
Wasps hit back when Waters sent Voyce dashing into space and the former England winger showed strength to set up a try for the marauding Palmer. Substitute Mark van Gisbergen – on for Cipriani – slotted the conversion but Wasps had suffered another injury blow when Voyce walked off with a shoulder injury.
Dallaglio’s departure was greeted warmly by the crowd but Wasps suffered a setback in the 70th minute when Waters was sin-binned for offside.
Both sides were dead on their feet amid a succession of casualties but Bath could not take advantage of the extra man and Wasps held firm.