Pollard injury headlines Saracens' rout of champions Tigers
SATURDAY WRAP: Handre Pollard limped off just 27 minutes into his Leicester debut, just five weeks after a knee injury prematurely ended his Rugby Championship campaign with the Springboks.
It was August 27 when the 2019 World Cup winner was hurt in his country's loss to the Wallabies in Adelaide and his exclusion from their squad a few days later saw him fly to England to begin life with his new club.
At the time the Springboks had suggested that Pollard was only a 20 percent chance of being fit for the upcoming November tour of Europe, but it eventually emerged that the injury wasn't as serious as initially feared and the 28-year-old was chosen on the bench by the Tigers for their October One round four Premiership trip to Saracens.
With Leicester trailing 13-27 at the interval, Steve Borthwick elected to make three changes at the break – including bringing Pollard on for wing Kini Murimurivalu.
However, the South African's debut appearance in the English Premiership lasted only 27 minutes, as he was withdrawn 13 minutes before the finish with an unexplained injury.
Ahead by 37-18 at the time, Saracens were attacking with a penalty advantage when Owen Farrell kicked the ball in behind the Leicester cover in the middle of the pitch and Pollard, who was wearing strapping on his right knee, was seen turning and running back while occupying a position out wide on his team's left.
That was his last contribution as he was replaced by sub hooker Joe Taufete'e before the restarted play resulted in another try for Saracens, who went on to comfortably win 51-18. Leicester boss Borthwick didn't specifically address the Pollard injury during his post-game TV interview.
"We lost our way with the penalty count and more changes had to come later due to injuries," Borthwick said.
"You look at today and a number of players were playing their first game of the season and it looked like that, new combinations, new players playing together.
"There is going to be more of that so from our point of view we need to keep building the cohesion," he added.
The match broadcaster's commentators were equally in the dark about the extent of this latest Pollard injury.
Ugo Monye stated post-game: “Unfortunately we have not had an update on that but he was whipped off the pitch quite quickly. It was his first game and we just hope from a Leicester perspective that he is hopefully not away for too long."
Ben Kay added: "He [Pollard] had a knee injury with South Africa which was why he missed the end of the Rugby Championship, so he has come back and made his first appearance on that (artificial) pitch which we know some players who have had knee injuries don't like but it might be something totally different.
"When you have got someone like that you don't want to throw them in and then break them, so maybe it is just precautionary.”
All the Saturday scores and scorers are below ...
London Irish 47-38 BathThe scorers
For London IrishTries: Hassell-Collins 3, Loader 3, Jackson Cons: Jackson 6
For BathTries: Hamer-Webb, Gallagher, Cokanasiga, Annett 2, Francis Cons: Bailey 4
London Irish: 15 Henry Arundell, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Will Joseph, 12 Benhard van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ben White, 8 Matt Rogerson (captain), 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Ben Donnell, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Api Ratuniyarawa, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Danilo Fischetti. Replacements: 16 Isaac Miller, 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Josh Caulfield, 20 Juan Martin Gonzalez, 21 Chandler Cunningham-South, 22 Caolan Englefield, 23 James Stokes..
Bath: 15 Matt Gallagher, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Max Ojomoh, 11 Gabriel Hamer-Webb, 10 Orlando Bailey, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Josh Bayliss, 7 Miles Reid, 6 GJ van Velze, 5 Josh McNally, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Will Stuart, 2 Tom Dunn (captain), 1 Juan Schoeman. Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 D'arcy Rae, 19 Tom Ellis, 20 Wesley White, 21 Max Green, 22 Piers Francis, 23 Ruaridh McConnochie..
Referee: Karl Dickson Assistant referees: Dan Jones, James Clark TMO: Claire Hodnett
Sale Sharks 28-20 Exeter ChiefsThe scorers
For Sale SharksTries: B Curry, Van der Merwe, Carpenter Cons: R du Preez 2 Pens: R du Preez 3
For Exeter ChiefsTries: Cowan-Dickie, Maunder Cons: Slade 2 Pens: Slade 2
Sale: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom Roebuck, 13 Sam James, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Tom O'Flaherty, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Gus Warr, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Ben Curry (captain), 6 Tom Curry, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Simon McIntyre. Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Bevan Rodd, 18 James Harper, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Sam Hill, 23 Arron Reed.
Exeter: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Rory O'Loughlin, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Harvey Skinner, 9 Stuart Townsend, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 5 Daffyd Jenkins, 4 Jack Dunne, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie (captain), 1 Alec Hepburn. Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 18 Patrick Schickerling, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Richard Capstick, 21 Sam Maunder, 22 Joe Simmonds, 23 Solomone Kata..
Referee: Wayne Barnes Assistant referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Wayne Falla TMO: David Rose
Saracens 58-18 Leicester TigersThe scorers
For SaracensTries: Lozowski, Earl, Malins, Van Zyl, Daly, McFarland, Maitland Cons: Farrell 4, Daly Pens: Farrell 2
For Leicester TigersTries: Farrell 4, Daly Con: Burns Pens: Burns 2
Saracens: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Max Malins, 13 Alex Lozowski, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Alex Lewington, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Ben Earl, 6 Theo McFarland, 5 Hugh Tizard, 4 Callum Hunter-Hill, 3 Christian Judge, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola. Replacements: 16 Kapeli Pifeleti, 17 Eroni Mawi, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Andy Christie, 20 Jackson Wray, 21 Ruben de Haas, 22 Alex Goode, 23 Sean Maitland.
Leicester: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Phil Cokanasiga, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Kini Murimurivalu, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Harry Wells, 3 Joe Heyes, 2 Charlie Clare, 1 James Cronin. Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete'e, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Ollie Chessum, 20 George Martin, 21 Jack van Poortvliet, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Chris Ashton.
Referee: Matthew Carley Assistant referees: Hamish Smales, Greg Macdonald TMO: Rowan Kitt