George Skivington, the new Gloucester head coach, praised outside half Danny Cipriani’s masterclass in how to exploit 14-man Worcester after full-back Melani Nani was sent off.
Cipriani cut Worcester apart with a surgeon’s precision in a bonus point 44-15 win after Nani was dismissed for felling England wing Jonny May with a shoulder to the head after 18 minutes to leave the home side, who are winless in the Gallagher Premiership for the last nine months, totally exposed as they conceded six tries to give Gloucester a much-needed bonus-point win.
Skivington is also a former Wasps player and understands the special skills Cipriani can bring to the game and this was the first example of the impact a new coaching regime is having on the Gloucester No10. Besides Skivington, the new attack coach is former England outside-half Alex King who was Cipriani’s mentor at Wasps while another ex-teammate Dominic Waldouck is in charge of defence. Waldouck used to room on tour with Cipriani and like Skivington and King is acutely aware of the strengths and weakness of one of English rugby’s most talented attacking threats.
All three also recognise that with Cipriani’s passing, vision and kicking skills comes the threat of a damaging mistake as the player tries too hard to unlock a defence but on this showing, the balance is right under the new coaching regime.
Skivington paid tribute to Cipriani’s vision to make the most of the numerical advantage and emphasised the control that his outside half showed along with the risk-taking. Skivington said: “I thought Danny did a great job managing the game and there were some brilliant performances. Once Danny got into his flow he put us in the right areas of the pitch – it wasn’t reckless and it was good constructive rugby and he couldn’t have done any more.
“My focus was to concentrate on how the boys performed no matter what was coming at us to see their attitude under pressure and work rate when fatigued. Overall I was pleased with the work ethic of the players. When someone gets sent off it is hard for the team and I thought we managed the game particularly well. Jonny May had to come off and I am hoping he is OK after a big collision.”
Alan Solomons, the Worcester director of rugby, said: “The sending off clearly had a massive impact on the game and after waiting for five months to play we then had the next 60 mins playing with 14 men.”
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