Blow for Saracens as England centre Brad Barritt is ruled out until Christmas

Saracens beat Gloucester 44-12 at the weekend

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The Independent Online

Saracens' perfect start to the Aviva Premiership season continued with a 44-12 victory over Gloucester that was marred only by the news that their England centre Brad Barritt is out until Christmas.

The 2011 league champions posted a second successive bonus-point win just hours after announcing that Barritt had undergone corrective surgery on damaged foot ligaments.

"We're not exactly sure of the time frame. It's really unfortunate for Brad because he's been outstanding for us over the last four seasons," Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said.

"We'll miss him for the next three months or so, but Brad hasn't had much of a break from rugby for four and a half years.

"Getting him back in January will be a real bonus for us and he'll have a lot to look forward to from that moment on."

Saracens ran riot despite the loss of Barritt, capitalising on the dismissal of Gloucester prop Nick Wood for stamping on Jacques Burger after just 73 seconds to run in five tries.

Joel Tomkins, Schalk Brits and Billy Vunipola crossed and David Strettle touched down twice, while Owen Farrell kicked 17 points as the north London club to climbed to the summit of the Premiership.

Wood apologised to his team-mates for receiving the second fastest red card in the league's history after stamping twice on the exposed head of Burger.

Referee Wayne Barnes was left with an easy decision to make and Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies agreed with the official's call.

"It's very difficult for Nick, he's in bits in the changing room. I saw it on the big screen like everybody else and it didn't look great," Davies said.

"Nick is not a dirty player and never has been. He's a good technician and a good rugby player.

"We'll look at the video and take it from there. The red card, as it was seen by the referee, was fair.

"Nick's apologised for what happened and has been big enough to do that. He's a good guy and will come back stronger. Everybody makes mistakes."