Owen Farrell praised as he wins battle of England's fly-halves with Danny Cipriani

Duncan Bech 10:52 24/09/2018
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Mark McCall hailed Owen Farrell after the Saracens playmaker won the battle of England’s fly-halves in a 38-15 mauling of Gloucester.

Farrell was superb on Sunday as the champions claimed a fourth successive bonus-point win to secure first place and he will now join Eddie Jones’ training squad for a three-day camp in Bristol.

Jones made possibly the most contentious decision of his reign as England head coach by omitting Danny Cipriani from the 36-man party on the basis of form, even though he has been superb for Gloucester.

It was a different story at Allianz Park, however, as Cipriani was reduced to a peripheral figure, playing behind a pack that had been bullied into submission.

“Owen was incredibly influential. It wasn’t just his skill set, it was the physical tone he set. Physically he was incredible,” Saracens director of rugby McCall said.

“If you listen to the ref mic, vocally he was off the charts. He’s just an incredible player who adds in every way.

“Not just in his kicking and passing, but emotionally and physically as well. He threw himself into contact.”

Jones insisted Cipriani’s conviction for common assault and resisting arrest during Gloucester’s pre-season tour to Jersey had not played a part in his decision, instead declaring Farrell and George Ford to be his preferred fly-halves.

Cherry and Whites head coach Johan Ackermann admitted it is up to Cipriani to prove Jones wrong on the pitch.

“Danny has had setbacks in his life, otherwise he would have constantly been in the England squad,” he said.

“He’s taken it on the chin and the only way for him to reply is on the field. You have to consistently perform.

“The good thing about Danny is that he’s an experienced player and he’s had disappointments in the past.

“It’s a bit like a referee’s decision – you can’t change it once it’s been made. If England want two 10s and an extra centre, that’s the way you divide the cake. It’s not all about Danny.”

Maro Itoje scored two tries to lead the bonus-point assault on a team that arrived in north London with the belief they could make an impression on the title race.

“Maro has probably been the one shining light through our season so far,” McCall said.

“He’s in a hurry to be better and he sets an incredible example in training. He was great. It doesn’t matter if he plays lock or flanker.

“We were disappointed with ourselves over the first three weeks, we just felt there was more in us.”

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