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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 17:43 GMT



England fly-half Danny Cipriani applauds during the victory over Ireland
Cipriani produced an assured display in his first Test start
Fly-half Danny Cipriani paid tribute to his forwards after guiding England to a handsome 33-10 RBS Six Nations victory over Ireland on his first Test start.

"I thoroughly enjoyed it," said Cipriani, who scored 18 points with a perfect seven-from-seven kicks at goal.

"It may have been my first game but I have played it a million times in my head. I was awake until 4am this morning thinking about it.

"When your forwards play like that it's easy for a 10. They were outstanding."

Cipriani also praised the contribution of under-pressure head coach Brian Ashton, for whom victory should provide some breathing space ahead of the two-Test tour of New Zealand in June.

The Wasps fly-half was controversially dropped from the squad for being photographed leaving a nightclub after midnight, three days before England's match against Scotland last weekend.

I might have the biggest say in whether I have the job or not

Brian Ashton,
England coach

"We owe part of it to Brian," the 20-year-old added. "Sometimes we have not performed as well as we should have, but he has got us prepared."

And despite a good performance on his debut Test start, the first thing Cipriani did when meeting the media after the match was apologise for swearing on national TV.

"I was too excited after the game and I am very sorry," he said.

Ashton praised Cipriani for his performance on the field but refused to dwell too long on a single player.

"That was a team performance, not a one-man band - and one of the best team performances I've seen in a long time," said Ashton.

"Danny did really well, though. You're not sure until they come out whether players can bring Premiership form into internationals, but for most of the game he did.

"He will be very pleased - and we are reasonably pleased as well - but the guys around him helped enormously, so let's not go overboard."

And speaking to BBC Sport about his own future, the England coach said: "I find it quite interesting this ..... I might have the biggest say in whether I have the job or not.

606: DEBATE

"I will go away and reflect on what happens next.

"We've got a meeting on Tuesday. I will sit down with Rob [Andrew, RFU director of elite rugby] and wait and see what the future is."

He later added: "Winning one game does not mean any less pressure.

"The pressure just comes with the job. You can't hide away - the press is there every single game. But this solidifies one or two selections, and it was a nice way to finish the tournament.

"We haven't got the players for about two months now. I hope they go back to their clubs, play really well and - most important of all - stay injury-free."

Ashton admitted that the Six Nations campaign had been a disappointment overall, with three wins and two defeats.

"It was a missed opportunity - big time," he said.

Centre Jamie Noon, who capped a man-of-the-match display by crossing for England's third try late on, admitted the side had required a positive conclusion to a disappointing campaign.

"We have been close to it a couple of times in this Six Nations, it was just a matter of keeping working hard and hopefully it would come," Noon said.

"We owed ourselves a performance and there was a massive amount of desire to give it our all. It is nice to come off with a result like that."



SEE ALSO
Cipriani lives up to the hype
16 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
England v Ireland ratings
15 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
England v Ireland match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
England 33-10 Ireland
15 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations photos
15 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani takes Wilkinson's place
11 Mar 08 |  English
Cipriani axed from England team
06 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union


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