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).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

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

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee