June International Tours

Cipriani gets Lions boost from McGeechan

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Danny Cipriani’s chances of being selected for the British and Irish Lions squad for the tour of South Africa got a boost on Sunday after he starred in a losing cause for Wasps against Saracens.


Cipriani, coming back from a career-threatening ankle injury, was left out in the cold by England manager Martin Johnson during the Six Nations.


Although the 21-year-old fly-half missed three of his goalkicks in a 19-14 loss to English Premiership rivals Saracens, his performance in open play impressed Lions boss Ian McGeechan, who names his squad for a three-Test series with world champions South Africa on April 21.


McGeechan, also Wasps’ director of rugby, said: “We’ll have to see a bit more (before deciding whether he is ready for the Lions). That was comfortably the best game I’ve seen Danny play since he’s come back.


“That was pretty close to where he was last year before he got injured and I can’t give him any higher praise than that.


“That’s what’s been missing and he had a confidence today that he’s not had recently. There were a lot of good things in his game.” Defeat left English champions Wasps struggling to qualify for next season’s European Cup.


They dominated the second-half but Saracens wing Franciso Leonelli’s late try won this London derby clash.


Defeat left Wasps tenth in the twelve-team Premiership and needing to produce a late run in their last four league matches to make sure of their place in European club rugby union’s leading competition.


“We’re not going to make the Premiership play-offs but still have a slim chance of the Heineken (European) Cup and we’ll give it everything we’ve got,” said Wasps coach Shaun Edwards.


“The last time we weren’t in the Heineken Cup was in 2002-03 when we won the Parker Pen (European) Challenge Cup and Premiership. After that we won trophies for six consecutive seasons.


“If you do miss out on the Heineken Cup it’s disappointing but the lesser competition can be used as a building block for the next season,” the former Great Britain rugby league international added.


In the day’s other Premier League match bottom-of-the-table Bristol scored six tries in a 37-18 win over Worcester.


Bristol remain favourites to end up occupying the lone relegation place, but their victory cut the gap on second-bottom Worcester to nine points.


“We’ve had some improved performances lately and not actually finished it off and it was pleasing we played for 80 minutes today, not 45 or 50,” said Bristol coach Paul Hull.


“We just want to keep improving on our game-plan and we are doing that. You get your rewards if you keep improving,” the former England full-back added.


“The only way we can get out of this hole is by carrying on playing with confidence. London Irish away will be tough opposition next Saturday but we will take it as it comes.”


Sapa-AFP Rugbyweek.com

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