Danny Cipriani came on for the last 20 minutes as Wasps hung on for a 29-25 victory over Harlequins on Sunday, their third GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP win in a row.
England’s loss was Wasps’ gain. They were 26-18 ahead when Cipriani, sporting a black eye, replaced Mark van Gisbergen, going to the full-back position he had expected to take for England before he was axed for "inappropriate behaviour".
Cipriani, dropped by England head coach Brian Ashton for visiting a London nightclub after midnight last Wednesday, had only a few touches of the ball, but did what was required of him when Harlequins piled on the pressure in injury time.
Wasps had given Cipriani "only" a place amongst the replacements because he had not been part of their training for this weekend’s game.
Dave Walder started at outside-half, Cipriani’s usual club position, and was their man of the match, kicking four penalties, two conversions and a drop goal for a personal tally of 19 points. He did not miss a kick.
After the events at Murrayfield it is now not so much whether Cipriani will come back into the England side to face Ireland next Saturday – that is surely a certainty – but where he will play.
After a 15-minute delay because of an accident on the nearby M40 Walder was quickly on the scoresheet, adding a conversion to the fourth-minute try by hooker Raphael Ibanez at the end of a powerful forward drive.
Visiting stand-off Adrian Jarvis reduced it to 7-3 with an eighth-minute penalty and then, after Walder had kicked his first penalty, was instrumental in the scores being levelled after 28 minutes.
It looked as if his crossfield kick would be taken by Van Gisbergen, but it eluded the Wasps right wing, full-back Mike Brown gathered instead and passed for centre Hal Luscombe to score a try that Jarvis converted from wide out.
Walder then put over another penalty and just before half-time the Wasps advantage was stretched to 23-10 when centre Dominic Waldouck scored their second try after bursts by Ibanez and Worsley, with Walder adding the conversion again and dropping a goal with the last kick.
Harlequins had lost right wing Tom Williams to injury by then, but Jarvis managed his second penalty, only for Walder to reply in kind.
Dean Richards’ side needed to score next to have a chance and did so with a 60-metre breakaway try by left wing Ugo Monye midway through the half, Josh Lewsey being unable to match his pace.
That was when Cipriani was introduced, on at full-back with Lewsey switching to the wing for the rested Van Gisbergen.
Walder retained the kicking duties, though, and kept his perfect record for the afternoon with a fourth penalty 10 minutes from time.
That made it 29-18, but a Tom Guest try and Chris Malone conversion revived Harlequins hopes. They turned down two kickable penalties late on in pursuit of a try, but then kicked away possession right at the end.