Eddie Jones made one of the biggest selection calls of his England reign by omitting Danny Cipriani from his training squad for a three-day camp in Bristol.
Jones explained the decision was based on Cipriani’s form and not his conviction for common assault and resisting arrest in August, yet the fly-half had excelled in his three outings for Gloucester.
Against Saracens he was offered a head-to-head with Owen Farrell to prove Jones wrong. Here, Press Association Sport examines his performance as Saracens emerged 38-15 winners at Allianz Park.
As Jones pointed out on Thursday, a fly-half’s influence on a game is dictated by the type of ball delivered by his forwards. Gloucester’s pack have made a forceful start to the season but they were bullied at Allianz Park, denying Cipriani any kind of platform off which to work. In contrast, Farrell was given an armchair ride.
Cipriani’s passing was crisp and sharp when Gloucester went through the phases and on one occasion he sought to release Charlie Sharples on the right wing, but there was not enough space to cause real damage. Apart from a few spells in the first half-hour, however, he rarely got his hands on the ball and was forced to look on helplessly as his team were over-run up front.
Given such limited opportunity to express himself or steer Gloucester into the right areas, Cipriani was powerless to prevent the rout unfolding around him. He dovetailed with Billy Twelvetrees well by allowing his team-mate to act as first receiver while he scanned for opportunities, but this tactic had to be abandoned as Saracens drove forward ceaselessly.
Any hope of issuing an instant riposte to Jones was snatched away by Saracens as Cipriani was left to reflect on a significant dent to Gloucester’s title pretensions.