Cipriani injury mars Wasps Semi-final triumph

Wasps booked a place in the Premiership play-off final with a 21-10 win over Bath on Sunday, but their victory was marred by Danny Cipriani’s serious ankle injury.

Cipriani is likely to miss England’s tour to New Zealand after sustaining a suspected dislocated ankle early in the second half at Adams Park.

The Wasps fly-half was tackled by Olly Barkley in the 49th minute and cried out in pain as he found himself at the bottom of a ruck.

Medics arrived immediately and gave the 20-year-old oxygen treatment before he was stretchered off and taken to hospital by ambulance.

The injury was so severe that the television company broadcasting the game opted not to show replays.

It is a devastating blow for the player and England manager Martin Johnson, who was watching in the stands.

Cipriani was set to start in the number 10 jersey against the All Blacks after starring in England’s Six 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.

Cipriani’s injury took the gloss off a great day for Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio, who will have to postpone his retirement for one more match.

Dallaglio, 35, has already announced he will retire at the end of the season and now he will bring down the curtain on his illustrious career at Twickenham against Gloucester or Leicester.

The 35-year-old left the pitch to a standing ovation in the 66th minute on his final home appearance for Wasps after spending his entire 18-year career at the club.

Bath controlled long spells of the match and when Alex Crockett benefitted from a dreadful error by England fullback Josh Lewsey to touch down 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 injured experienced front rows Phil Vickery and Raphael Ibanez – was collapsing repeatedly in a testing opening for the reigning European 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 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 an 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 Tom 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.

Waters was sin-binned for offside in the 70th minute but Wasps had done enough but at quite a cost.

Sapa-AFP –

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