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Cipriani inspires red rose victory

Latest update : 2008-03-16

England ended their disappointing Six Nations tournament with a 33-10 win over Ireland at Twickenham, with Danny Cipriani making a superb first start with a personal contribution of 18 points.

Flyhalf Danny Cipriani inspired England to their most enterprising display of the 2008 Six Nations on Saturday when they beat Ireland 33-10 on Saturday, their first victory over the Irish in five attempts.

After a generally disappointing campaign, England finished on a positive note as their backs, galvanised by 20-year-old flyhalf Cipriani in his first start, showed plenty of ambition to complement a terrific all-round defensive display.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it," Cipriani said. "It have may have been my first game but I have played it a million times in my head," he told BBC television.

"When the forwards play like they did, it's easy for a 10."

Paul Sackey, Mathew Tait and Jamie Noon scored well-worked tries while Cipriani, in for Jonny Wilkinson, landed all seven of his goal kicks for an 18-point haul.

The victory was all the more impressive coming after Ireland had raced into a 10-0 lead inside six minutes and though June opponents New Zealand will not yet be quaking in their boots, coach Brian Ashton can look ahead to the two-game tour with a lot more confidence than looked likely after last week's woeful show against Scotland.

"We did owe (a good performance) to Brian as a team, we haven't always done as well as we could have. Our forwards were awesome," added Cipriani.

England end with six points from three wins and to finish third or second in the standings depending on the result of the title decider between Wales and France later on Saturday.

Ireland, after a low-key tournament, finish fourth to heap pressure on coach Eddie O'Sullivan.



An indication of the pace of change within the England camp was that captain Phil Vickery was their only survivor from last year's 43-13 thrashing at Croke Park.

Ireland must have been thinking of a possible repeat of that memorable day after their flying start.

Winger Rob Kearney crossed in the left corner after four minutes and Ronan O'Gara converted before adding a penalty.

However, unlike at Murrayfield last week when England were also caught cold, the hosts were able to regroup and take control, with Cipriani to the fore.

A well-worked Sackey try gave Cipriani the chance to notch his first international points, which he did successfully before added two penalties to edge England into a 13-10 lead they took into halftime.

Noon, who made a series of huge tackles, was inches short after making the sort of break that has been conspicuous by its absence in the previous four games while Cipriani added the zest and pace at flyhalf he has been showing all season for Wasps.

Ireland, deprived of injured first-choice centres Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy, were also trying to move the ball but were too predictable and England dealt with most of their attacks without much difficulty.

England stretched their lead early in the second half with a Cipriani penalty and then introduced Wilkinson to replace the injured Toby Flood after 50 minutes.

Wilkinson was soon involved in the action as the England backs produced a slick move to send over Tait, on as a blood replacement for Sackey.

Cipriani retained the kicking responsibilities and duly converted to give the hosts a comfortable 23-10 lead.

Ireland looked shot by then and they could not keep out Noon when he capped a great individual display with a try in the 69th minute.

Fittingly, Cipriani rounded things off with his fourth penalty

Date created : 2008-03-15