Cipriani boots Wasps to win
Danny Cipriani kicked all Wasps' points in a 9-5 victory over Northampton.
Last Updated: 22/02/09 5:42pm
Discarded England fly-half Danny Cipriani kicked three penalties to guide Wasps to a 9-5 Guinness Premiership victory over Northampton on Sunday.
The accuracy of Cipriani's place kicking proved the difference at Adams Park, although it was another player recently axed by England - Northampton's Ben Foden - who impressed most.
Foden, dropped for the national team's defeat by Wales after making his international debut the previous week as a replacement in the victory over Italy, scored the only try of the contest.
He burst over in the left corner after taking a pass from stand-off Stephen Myler in the 55th minute.
But Myler had an off day with the boot, missing the conversion and three penalty attempts, to cost Saints the chance of their first away Premiership victory of the season in a match they dominated for long periods.
Cipriani kicked Wasps into an early 6-0 lead with penalties in the fifth and 10th minutes - and just failed to land another from inside his own half.
Both sides regularly fell foul of referee Rob Debney, who was particularly strict in his interpretation of the breakdown.
Northampton enjoyed the better of the opening period, Wasps' former French international star Serge Betsen leading the way with a series of powerful runs - but the visitors lacked the clinical finishing to turn their territorial advantage into points.
Prop Soane Tonga'uiha burst through before the attack came to grief when centre John Clarke knocked on.
Wasps continued to hold firm, bundling Foden into touch near the right corner flag to shut down another Saints' scoring chance.
An error by Cipriani, whose drop-out following Myler's second penalty miss flew straight into touch, handed Northampton the scrum and provided the launch pad for another wave of attacks.
Left wing Bruce Reihana and number eight Roger Wilson both made inroads before the Northampton pack lost possession as they attempted to drive close to the try line.
The half ended with another missed Myler penalty to send Wasps into the break with their six-point advantage intact.
Northampton continued to be the more enterprising side at the start of the second period, although they twice spurned penalty opportunities in favour of close-range scrums.
Despite the efforts of England's second-choice hooker Dylan Hartley and winger Paul Diggin, who got within a couple of yards of the line, the well-drilled home defence again repelled the attacks.
But Northampton persevered and finally got the breakthrough when Myler, having a good game with ball in hand despite his place-kicking woes, released Foden on a run to the left corner.
Myler, however, missed the chance to edge his side ahead as the conversion attempt floated wide.
Saints were denied a second try six minutes later when they were brought back for a forward pass after Reihana sent Clarke in down the left flank.
Cipriani's third penalty - from just inside the opposition half - moved Wasps 9-5 ahead in the 65th minute, but he missed another from a similar position two minutes later and then put one wide from the left touchline as Northampton's valiant effort finally ran out of steam.