Saracens 24 Sale 19: Fresh Will Fraser injury mars Saracens’ joy

 

If someone had beamed down from Mars – or from rugby’s amateur era, which feels even more remote – for the Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens’ 24-19 win over Sale Sharks on Saturday how would they have judged the spectacle? An arena of wonderfully nuanced and contrasting players such as Saracens’ gliding fly-half Charlie Hodgson and cerebral lock Steve Borthwick? Or a base battlefield of mega-muscled gladiators battering each other Rollerball-style with casualties shipped off to hospital on motorised carts for the benefit of the paying public, television viewer and now – as we are told enthusiastically by competing broadcasters – broadband consumers?

Will Fraser’s woes epitomise the frailty of the human body in attempting to cope with rugby’s intense and repetitive contact, during a long season. The skillful and highly promising Saracens and England Saxons flanker will have an operation on his right leg today after sustaining a suspected break and ligament damage in an increasingly common occurrence - he was attempting a turnover at a ruck when he buckled under the weight of Andrei Ostrikov’s clear-out (Christian Wade suffered a similar fate for Wasps at London Irish on Saturday). Fraser, who had only returned to the game in October from six months out with a tendon torn off a shoulder bone, might have had a full England cap by now, but for injury.

Meantime there are 11 other players picked by England this year who are currently injured, including three from Saracens: the centres Brad Barritt and Joel Tomkins and prop Mako Vunipola. The home club rested their England wing Chris Ashton and Namibia flanker Jacques Burger, for sensible welfare reasons you would guess, although when Pro 12 teams do this before Heineken Cup matches it is derided by the Premiership as unfair.

Hodgson – another recent returnee from an Achilles tendon injury – effected one of his quick-thinking chargedowns against his old club in addition to kicking four penalties and the conversion of crucial 68th minute try by Borthwick’s protégé George Kruis. “It was a tough win and a bit of a struggle but the fact we ground it out was a credit to the team,” said Hodgson, after Borthwick, who is retiring at the end of the season, had his hands full outwitting Sale’s excellent line-out forward Mike Paterson.

The former Saracens coach Steve Diamond, now in charge of Sale, praised the younger Sharks players in the absence of 11 injured first choices – plus two more who went off in the first half – and hoped Saracens as a “super-club” would not “come poaching”. Hodgson said: “There’s obviously a perception of what Saracens are about but that’s none of my business. Steve can say what he likes. The hits and games take their toll slightly more now I am in my 30s but I am enjoying my rugby.”

The same is true for the comparatively spry Danny Cipriani on the evidence of the 26-year-old Sale fly-half’s heads-up running, positional kicking and creative handling. His converted try had Sale 13-6 ahead at half-time but Jack Wilson’s try on 44 minutes helped to rein the Sharks in. Sale have won only once away to Saracens in 18 years: in September 2005, at the much maligned Vicarage Road, when the attendance was 7132; Saturday’s at Allianz Park was 7126.

Scorers: Saracens: tries: Wilson, Kruis; conversion: Hodgson; penalties: Hodgson 4.

Sale Sharks: try: Cipriani; conversion: Cipriani; penalties: Miller, Cipriani, Macleod; drop: Cipriani.

Saracens: A Goode; J Wilson (M Bosch, 79), C Wyles, O Farrell (D Taylor, 54), D Strettle; C Hodgson, N de Kock (R Wigglesworth, 51); R Barrington, S Brits (J George, 79), M Stevens (J Johnston, 51), S Borthwick (capt), G Kruis (E Sheriff, 75), J Wray, W Fraser (K Brown, 32), E Joubert.

Sale Sharks: R Miller; C Ingall, M Jennings, J Leota, W Addison (T Brady, 15); D Cipriani (N Macleod, 75), D Peel (W Cliff, 13); R Harrison, T Taylor (M Jones, 62), V Cobilas, A Ostrikov (J Mills, 62), M Paterson, D Braid (capt; M Easter, 62), D Seymour, J Gaskell.

Referee: J P Doyle (London).

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones