Manu Tuilagi and Courtney Lawes were both injured as Sale Sharks boosted their hopes of qualifying for the Premiership play-offs with a comfortable 34-14 win at Northampton Saints. 

The fourth-placed Sharks scored six tries, including two in the first half from Luke James, to seal a routine win that puts them five points ahead of fifth-placed Bristol Bears. 

However, their performance was overshadowed by blows suffered by England internationals Tuilagi and Lawes. 

Northampton's Lawes suffered a knee injury in the eighth minute and four minutes later Tuilagi, playing in his sixth game for Sale since a move from Leicester Tigers, was forced off with an apparent Achilles problem. 

Tuilagi later returned to the stands on crutches, likely making him a doubt for the semi-finals should Sale qualify. 

Bristol face Leicester in their game in hand on Wednesday, then travel to London Irish at the weekend. Sale, meanwhile, finish the regular season by taking on Worcester Warriors on Sunday. 

Eddie Jones has expressed delight at Manu Tuilagi's decision to stay in England and is not concerned that Owen Farrell will be playing in the Championship next season.

Tuilagi this week joined Sale Sharks on a deal until the end of next season after failing to agree terms to remain with Leicester Tigers.

The British and Irish Lion was linked with a move to France or a code swap, options which would have ended his England career.

Jones says the 29-year-old's switch to Sale is great news for the Rugby World Cup runners-up.

The England head coach said: "Manu made up his mind what he was going to do. We had a couple of phone calls, we kept in contact the whole time.

"I gave him a small piece of advice, but he knew what he wanted to do. He's a valuable Test player, his performance in the World Cup and Six Nations indicated there is still more in him and I'm delighted by his decision.

"It's obviously a difficult time for everyone at the moment and we are glad he's made that decision."

Farrell will not be on the move after committing his long-term future to Saracens, who are heading for the second tier due to persistent salary-cap breaches.

It was also revealed that Mako Vunipola, Elliot Daly and Jamie George will stay with Sarries this week and Jones says the European champions’ England contingent will be picked if they are performing well enough.

He said: "I'll be comfortable [picking Saracens players] if they're in good form. Players who have a track record of Test match success, I'll have a pretty good idea of where they are and where they need to be.

"My understanding is most of the younger guys at Saracens are moving to other clubs so they will not have the same issues that the older players have. 

"Without sounding too grandiose, if I look at Owen Farrell it doesn't matter what game he plays I've got a pretty good understanding of where he needs to be."

Sale Sharks have pulled off a major coup by signing England centre Manu Tuilagi.

Tuilagi, 29, had been linked with a move to France or a code switch to rugby league after failing to agree terms to extend his stay with Leicester Tigers.

The British and Irish Lion will be eligible to continue his England career, though, after joining Sale on a deal until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Tuilagi could end the 2019-20 campaign as a Premiership champion, with the Sharks second in the table as they prepare to return to action on August 14, more than five months since the coronavirus crisis brought the season to a halt.

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond said: "We contacted Manu's agent and Leicester Tigers last week to discuss the player's current position.

"After discussions on Friday, all parties – Leicester Tigers, Manu Tuilagi and Sale Sharks – agreed that the player was a free agent and was able to enter into negotiations with another club.

"Manu will be a fantastic commercial and playing addition to our squad and I am looking forward to seeing him join up with the lads at Carrington this week."

Tuilagi's brother, Andy, spent three seasons with Sale from 2008 to 2011.

Joe Marler has been handed a 10-week suspension for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham on Saturday, but there were a number of flashpoints throughout the match, with the hosts reduced to 13 men by the final whistle after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and prop forward Marler, who appeared to grab at the Wales captain's crotch, though there was no action from the officials. 

After the incident was cited for further review, Marler appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Thursday and subsequently received a ban until June 8.

Marler, who did not accept that the incident warranted a red card, has the right to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Tuilagi also appeared before the disciplinary committee. The centre likewise did not accept his tackle on George North warranted a red card, but his appeal was rejected and he is suspended for four weeks.

Courtney Lawes was also cited following the match for a dangerous tackle on Jones.

However, the committee agreed that Lawes' tackle, while an act of foul play, was not worthy of a red card.

England pair Joe Marler and Courtney Lawes have been cited for incidents in England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales.

Prop Marler appeared to grasp the genitals of Alun Wyn Jones in the first half at Twickenham, leading the Wales captain to call on World Rugby to examine the footage.

The 29-year-old has been accused of an alleged infringement of law 9.27, which states that "a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship – hair pulling or grabbing; Spitting at anyone; Grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals (and/or breasts in the case of female players)".

Lawes is also facing possible sanctions for a high tackle, also on Jones, in the second half.

The players face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday along with Manu Tuilagi, who was given a red card for a challenge on George North.

England's victory, coupled with France's defeat to Scotland, leaves Eddie Jones' side top of the standings with one match to play.

That game against Italy, scheduled for March 14 in Rome, has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Following pre-match consternation over the fitness of Wales fly-half Dan Biggar – head coach Wayne Pivac and assistant Sam Warburton having offered mixed messages with regards to his knee complaint – Tom Curry and Manu Tuilagi decided to seek their own diagnosis.

Biggar gathered Ben Youngs' teasing kick in the second minute, only to see a white-clad freight train hurtling towards him.

Curry, as was generally the case on a full-throated late afternoon in London, got there first, splattering Wales' number 10, with Tuilagi alongside to provided added, if largely unnecessary, muscle.

England's expert meshing of brains and brawn set them apart in the opening exchanges – Maro Itoje striding imperiously through the midfield before soaring to collect the subsequent line-out. Wales were drawn in, Curry did not miss a beat with the reverse pass and the returning Anthony Watson darted over for the first try.

There were plenty more instances where this undulating 33-30 win for Eddie Jones' men looked exactly as you might expect – one side tweaking and seeking to progress again having fallen agonisingly short of their World Cup goal, with their visitors in the early and often fumbling throes of transition.

Particularly in their defensive set-piece work, Pivac's men appeared a team breaking in uncomfortably new shoes; the glorious dances of a dozen years under Warren Gatland already feeling consigned to a fading era.

Wales' chances invariably came when an England team in a rush trod on their own jet heels.

This was never more evident than in the back-to-back passages of play that saw a swaggering 20-6 lead collapse to 20-16 either side of half-time.

Despite the clock having already ticked past 40, England sought to fizz the ball through hands on halfway where Tuilagi erred and Itoje was pinged for a high tackle on Biggar. Equilibrium long restored from that early pasting, he bisected the posts.

Then, 27 seconds and a lackadaisical restart later, Twickenham was aghast as Justin Tipuric gleefully scampered over.

Now was the time for Wales to open up some old wounds. England led 10-3 at half-time in this fixture a year ago, before unravelling and losing 21-13 in a fug of antagonised indiscipline.

If captain Owen Farrell intended to help his men turn over a new leaf, scrapping with George North and putting in a high tackle on Josh Navidi for Leigh Halfpenny to slot a pair of first-half penalties did not exactly amount to leading by example.

But from the tee, Farrell was typically unerring with six from six, and his combination with George Ford for Elliot Daly's 32nd-minute score meant Joe Marler's peculiar method of introducing himself to Alun Wyn Jones was arguably not England's most notable ball-in-hand moment of the match.

Those flashes of finely grooved, frictionless quality are the preserve of teams perfectly in sync with their wider strategies. Pivac's Wales cannot expect to be at that stage of realisation, although their unflinching spirit until the last bodes well for the journey ahead.

Tuilagi went over for another glorious try after more brilliant work from Youngs and Ford, although the bulldozing centre underlined England's remaining appetite for self-destruction with a late red card tackle on North. Biggar and Tipuric's late tries consequently came against 13-man opposition, given Ellis Genge was already ensconced in the sin bin.

Triple Crown secured, Eddie Jones' England don't look likely to stop playing on the edge any time soon, where the falls can be needlessly damaging but the views are often indisputably spectacular.

Manu Tuilagi returns to England's team for the Six Nations clash with Ireland on Sunday and Jonathan Joseph will line up on the left wing at Twickenham.

Head coach Eddie Jones moves Elliot Daly from out wide to full-back, where he replaces the injured George Furbank, while scrum-half Ben Youngs is recalled at the expense of Willi Heinz for what will be his 100th Test appearance - including two caps for the British and Irish Lions.

Lewis Ludlam drops out as Courtney Lawes returns in the back row, and with Mako Vunipola absent for family reasons, Joe Marler comes in at prop as Ellis Genge has to settle for a place on the bench once again.

Tuilagi's return after missing the victory over Scotland with a groin injury beefs up England's midfield, but the selection of Joseph on the wing catches the eye, given he is a centre by trade and Jones had more orthodox options.

Joseph will win a 50th England cap, while centre Henry Slade is on the bench, having not yet played this year due to an ankle problem.

England began their campaign with a defeat to France in Paris before getting the better of Scotland at Murrayfield.

They play a first home match of the tournament against an Ireland side who have beaten Scotland and Wales already, so will be seeking to stay in contention for a Grand Slam.

Jones said: "Ireland are a very good team, extremely well coached. They are a team we respect a lot. They will bring their usual physicality and under Andy Farrell they've opened up their game a little bit.

"They are a tactically smart team. [Conor] Murray and [Johnny] Sexton, who have played 170 Tests between them, at nine and 10 will manage the game well. We've got to make sure we match their physicality and their emotion on the weekend."

England: Elliot Daly, Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonathan Joseph, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Willi Heinz, Henry Slade.

Manu Tuilagi and Henry Slade are on course to be fit for England's crunch Six Nations showdown with Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday.

Tuilagi suffered a groin injury early in England's defeat to France on the opening weekend of the tournament, while Slade has been out since sustaining an ankle injury in December.

The centres trained with the Rugby World Cup runners-up on Wednesday and could face joint-leaders Ireland this weekend.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "Manu trained fully so should be in contention for selection. It's good to have a quality player back.

"Slade also trained so we have just got to monitor his progress. He has a positive chance. He's a quality player. This gives us more options."

One player who will play no part is prop Mako Vunipola, who flew to Tonga and is not available for "family reasons".

Jones says England are well stocked to cover for the absence of the British and Irish Lion, with Joe Marler and Ellis Genge vying for a start.

The Australian said: "Mako's a quality player but we are lucky we are blessed with two outstanding loosehead props in Joe and Ellis, so we can recover the loss of Mako.

"But it's disappointing to lose him."

Genge scored the winning try in a battling 13-6 defeat of Scotland before the rest weekend. 

England are likely to welcome back Manu Tuilagi for the crunch Six Nations clash with Ireland next week, but Anthony Watson remains out of action.

Centre Tuilagi remained with the England squad after suffering a groin injury in the opening defeat in France, although he did not feature as the Rugby World Cup finalists bounced back against Scotland.

The Leicester Tigers star should be able to feature at Twickenham a week on Sunday, though, head coach Eddie Jones revealed.

England face Ireland, who have won two matches from two so far - beating defending Grand Slam champions Wales last week - to join France at the top of the Six Nations table.

Alongside Tuilagi, England could be boosted by a return for Henry Slade, the 26-year-old having been out with an ankle injury since December.

"Manu is looking very good," Jones told Sky Sports News. "Very promising. He should be in full training by the start of next week.

"Henry Slade ran today and we've yet to get a medical report. It's definitely promising but too early to say whether he will be alright for Ireland or not."

However, Watson - another man, like Slade, yet to feature in the campaign - is still struggling with a calf injury picked up on the eve of the competition.

"Anthony Watson is still a couple of weeks away," Jones said.

Manu Tuilagi will miss England's Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday due to a "low-grade groin strain".

Tuilagi limped out of the 24-17 Six Nations defeat at the hands of France at the Stade de France on Sunday, but was named in a 35-man squad for the showdown with Gregor Townsend's men.

Head coach Eddie Jones confirmed on Tuesday that the 28-year-old has been ruled out of England's second match of the tournament. but is optimistic he will be able to return against Ireland at Twickenham on February 23.

"Manu had his MRI scan last night and he has a slight, low-grade adductor strain. We're hopeful he'll be fit for Ireland. It's very good news, outstanding news," said Jones.

The Rugby World Cup runners-up are taking no risks with the Leicester Tigers powerhouse, whose career was almost ended by a groin injury six years ago.

Jonathan Joseph would appear the most likely take the number 13 shirt after coming off the bench to replace Tuilagi in Paris, or Elliot Daly could be moved inside from the wing.

Ollie Devoto and Fraser Dingwall are the other midfield options for Jones. 

 

 

Eddie Jones has overlooked Alex Dombrandt once again for England's Six Nations showdown with Scotland – but injured centre Manu Tuilagi is included in a 35-man squad.

In-form number eight Dombrandt did not make the matchday squad for the defeat to France in Paris on Sunday despite Billy Vunipola being ruled out with a broken arm.

Tom Curry was instead shifted to the back of the pack for the game at the Stade de France, with France running out 24-17 winners.

Dombrandt, who plays his club rugby for Harlequins, has not been included for the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield.

Tuilagi is on the list of players, however, even though he suffered a groin injury in Paris, leading to him being substituted in the first half.

The uncapped Tom Dunn, Ben Earl, Alex Moon, Fraser Dingwall, Ollie Thorley and Jacob Umaga were also selected by Jones.

 

England squad

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Tom Dunn, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Ted Hill, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Alex Moon, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Mako Vunipola, Harry Williams.

Backs: Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, Fraser Dingwall, Owen Farrell, George Ford, George Furbank, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Ollie Thorley, Manu Tuilagi, Jacob Umaga, Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs.

Matt Toomua has an insight into opponents England from his time with Leicester Tigers, but his assessment of their "weaknesses" will be of little use in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Saturday.

Toomua spent three years in the Premiership with Leicester and is set to come face-to-face with a number of former Tigers team-mates in Oita this weekend. 

The versatile 29-year-old is among the Australia replacements to take on an England side including the likes of Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs and Jonny May, with George Ford and Dan Cole on the bench.

Asked for his thoughts on his ex-colleagues, Toomua told a news conference: "I know all their weaknesses. I can list them now for you if you want.

"Manu is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer, Ben Youngs isn't even the best rugby player in his family, let alone his country.

"The chicken, Jonny May, is very weird, and Dan Cole doesn't have a personality. I've just been telling everybody about that."

Shifting to a more serious tone, he added: "No, we had a great relationship with them and one thing we do know is they're all quality players. We were fortunate for the last couple of years when Manu came back from injury, we just saw him grow in stature.

"He probably grows the bigger the game as well. He probably plays his best rugby in Tests, and that's the sign of a true champion player.

"Obviously Manu is a name that sticks out for a lot of reasons - he is a strong carrier and makes a lot of big plays. But it is probably about trying to shut down his time and space.

"He is at 12 now so he is a bit closer to the play, so it might be a little easier in that sense. I'm sure they're working out ways to give him some ball one-on-one at full steam."

While Tuilagi is a very real threat to Australia from the outset, Ford lost the number 10 shirt to Owen Farrell despite an impressive tournament to date.

Captain Farrell said: "I've played fly-half plenty of times before, I'm fine with playing fly-half. It's more about how I can fit in the team and hopefully put us in a place to perform well at the weekend."

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