England: More injury concerns for Eddie Jones as Owen Farrell and Luke Cowan-Dickie forced off

Colin Newboult

England’s preparations for the upcoming Autumn Nations Series took another hit after Luke Cowan-Dickie and Owen Farrell went off on Saturday.

After Jonny May and Henry Arundell suffered elbow and ankle issues respectively in the Gloucester v London Irish clash on Friday, two more Red Rose squad players sustained problems at Sandy Park.

During Saracens’ 22-20 victory over Exeter Chiefs, Farrell had to be replaced due to a head knock, while Cowan-Dickie suffered a knee injury.

12-day stand down

Sarries director of rugby Mark McCall said: “He (Farrell) is with the doctors now.

“But obviously, he went off for an HIA (head injury assessment) and normal procedure is a 12-day stand down, but hopefully it will allow him enough time to play in the first Tests.

“I guess it will depend if he is feeling okay. I am sure Eddie would be keen to get him there.”

On Cowan-Dickie, Exeter head coach Ali Hepher said. “It’s his knee. He couldn’t carry on, but we are not sure of the extent yet. We will have to assess.”

The injuries put a dampener on what was a fascinating encounter between two in-form sides.

Ultimately, it was Saracens that just about edged the game to maintain their winning run at the start of this season.

Exeter had come from 19-10 down with 10 minutes remaining to lead 20-19 thanks to Jacques Vermeulen’s try and Henry Slade’s penalty, but Alex Goode’s three-pointer won the game for the visitors.

“It was two really good sides scrapping it out, fighting it out. Whether we deserved to win I am not sure, but we showed some great fighting qualities,” McCall said.

“We were down to 14 men twice and I liked how we went about that and how physical we were. I don’t think we were as good as we should have been in the second-half.”

He added: “I think it might have been his (Goode’s) first kick of the season. It tells you a lot about Alex Goode that he was prepared to take the responsibility on his shoulders.”

Improving Exeter

Two-time Premiership champions Chiefs appear a much better side than last season, where they finished a disappointing seventh, and despite the result on Saturday, Hepher is content with the team’s development.

“We were in the fight. These games come down to tight margins and we’ve got to get more clinical,” he said.

“We are in the right space mentally and we’ve everything to work with. We came up a little bit short today.”

READ MORE: Alex Goode kicks dramatic last-minute penalty as Saracens continue winning start to the season