Cipriani survives return unscathed

London Wasps 23 Bath 27

A near-capacity crowd cheered Danny Cipriani on his return to action, which lasted an encouraging if plainly exhausting 51 minutes, but they would have been more pleased if Bath had not waltzed off with a bonus point win which put them top of the Premiership. For Wasps, the champions, it was their fourth defeat in five matches this season.

Cipriani said it was fate that dictated his comeback would be against Bath, the same opponents when he fractured and dislocated his right ankle here just under 20 weeks ago.

The portents for his side's title defence continue to be dodgy. Shaun Edwards railed angrily at an eccentric piece of refereeing when Sean Davey overruled the signal from both his touch judges that Cipriani had kicked a penalty goal in the 29th minute but the Wasps head coach could not deny Bath's superiority. "Their offence was absolutely on song," Edwards said.

The only plan that Wasps stuck to coherently was that which gave Cipriani a half and a bit to ease his way back.

It is one thing for the fly-half to be photographed for a magazine, James Bond-style, with near-naked lovelies draped over him; quite another to play Thunderball in the face of Bath's marauding forwards, among whom the prop Matt Stevens was rightly singled out as "the dominant player" by Edwards.

"I was rusty and I made a couple of mistakes," said Cipriani, who was also mystified by Davey's penalty ruling. "I'm glad to have got through, and now I want to get a run of games, but I'm disappointed for the loss."

Bath led 12-0 after 15 minutes through tries by Michael Claassens – a confident leap by Cipriani to claim Nick Abendanon's kick only delivered it to the onrushing Bath hooker Pieter Dixon – and Stevens, who piled past a weak tackle from Raphaël Ibañez.

Either side of the penalty which wasn't – Wasps' miniscule posts hardly help the officials – Cipriani kicked goals in the 19th and 31st minutes. Then he sent Riki Flutey knifing through Bath's defence to claim a smart try with a little help from Tom Palmer.

A conversion and third penalty by Cipriani left Wasps, improbably, 16-12 up at half-time.

Such is the hope vested in Cipriani after just three caps for England that talk had turned before last night to the 20-year-old's inclusion for the November internationals.

The red tape which prevents his inclusion in the senior England squad unless an incumbent is injured or suspended looks to have been torn up by the dislocated left knee suffered by Jonny Wilkinson on Tuesday: a lengthy absence, possibly up to three months, is expected to be confirmed by a specialist today.

Cipriani may come back bigger and quicker according to his coaches, but he would have needed an elephant gun to bring down a galloping Stevens three minutes into the second half, as Dixon plunged over for Bath's third try. It was nip and tuck for a while: a penalty by James and his imperious conversion of Joe Maddock's bonus point score at the right corner in the 61st minute came either side of Tom Rees's try for Wasps converted by Cipriani's replacement, Jeremy Staunton. But in a concluding quarter of knock-ons and wrong options Wasps – who had won all three meetings with Bath last season – had their many woes laid bare.

London Wasps: Tries Flutey, Rees; Conversions Cipriani, Staunton; Penalties Cipriani 3.

Bath: Tries Claassens, Stevens, Dixon, Maddock; Conversions James 2; Penalties James.

London Wasps: T Voyce; P Sackey, D Waldouck, R Flutey, J Lewsey; D Cipriani (J Staunton, 51), E Reddan (M Robinson, 73); T Payne (T French, 74), R Ibanez (capt, R Webber, 62), P Vickery, S Shaw, T Palmer (R Birkett, 71), J Worsley (J Haskell, 26), J Hart, T Rees.

Bath: N Abendanon; J Maddock, A Crockett, S Berne, J Cuthbert (A Higgins, 62); B James, M Claassens; D Barnes (D Bell, 62), P Dixon (L Mears 23-35, 62), M Stevens, J Harrison, P Short, S Hooper, J Faamatuainu, M Lipman (capt, J Scaysbrook, 40).

Referee: S Davey (Sussex).

* Leicester Tigers, beaten 28-19 by Wasps last Friday, left it late to beat Northampton Saints 29-19 at Welford Road last night. Their head coach Heyneke Meyer said: "I'm very proud of the guys. They played great rugby in the first half, but we didn't execute. I thought if we kept pressuring them in the second half, the tries would come and that's how it turned out."

11

Points scored by Danny Cipriani on his 51-minute comeback for London Wasps.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker