Round-Up: Wilkinson on the road to recovery

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Given that he missed, unusually, a last-minute penalty that would have won Newcastle's match against Northampton on Friday night, perhaps Sir Clive Woodward should be more concerned about Jonny Wilkinson's form than his fitness.

Given that he missed, unusually, a last-minute penalty that would have won Newcastle's match against Northampton on Friday night, perhaps Sir Clive Woodward should be more concerned about Jonny Wilkinson's form than his fitness.

Perhaps not. "It was a relief to get through the game without any bumps and bruises," said the England fly-half, who survived for 50 minutes without straining a knee ligament, popping a shoulder or doing something unfeasibly uncomfortable to his neck. "Instead of the disappointment of being missing from the game I have a different type of disappointment, that which you get from defeat."

Announcing his Lions squad last week, Woodward gave Wilkinson an extended chance to prove his fitness to join the journey to New Zealand. He has a final Premiership match, against London Irish, guaranteed and there may also be a couple of wildcard play-offs, thus providing that god-forsaken competition with a belated reason for existing.

"It felt good being out there to be honest," he said, "and everything passed the test from a physical point of view. I'm always going to say that I'm a long way away from being as sharp as I want to be, so there's always room for improvement. Whatever happens will happen. I'm back to enjoying life and getting on with my rugby as normal, so I'm very happy."

Richard Hill, who was named in Woodward's squad without condition after one match of his comeback from a wrecked knee, plays again for Saracens at Vicarage Road today. Leicester, the visitors, have the prop Julian White back from his neck injury as one of six '"tigons" (or "ligers", if you want), in their side. The others are Geordan Murphy, Graham Rowntree, Ben Kay, Neil Back and Martin Corry. Two more, Lewis Moody and Ollie Smith, may be on the bench.

Wasps use Josh Lewsey, Matt Dawson and Lawrence Dallaglio at home to Worcester, so Woodward will have every crossable part of his anatomy engaged for none of the above to fall injured.

In Wales last night the Newport Gwent Dragons did Cardiff a rare favour by beating Connacht 24-19, letting the Blues into a play-off for a Heineken Cup place with the third-strongest (and thus entirely beatable) Italian side.

In yesterday's Powergen Shield contest at Twickenham, played before half-empty stands in the same way the minis used to get a runaround before the county cup final, a last-ditch try from the centre Leigh Hinton gave the Bedford Blues a 14-13 win over Plymouth Albion.

In the Super 12, the New South Wales Waratahs beat the ACT Brumbies 10-6 in "one of the ugliest Super 12 games ever played", according to the victorious captain Chris Whitaker.

Comments