Saracens sweat on England prop Vunipola

English Premiership rugby club Saracens face an anxious wait before discovering if England prop Mako Vunipola will be fit for the Premiership play-offs and the Heineken Cup final.

Vunipola went off with a hamstring strain just seven minutes into Saracens’ 44-20 Premiership win at home to strugglers Worcester on Saturday.

Afterwards, Saracens coach Mark McCall insisted the regular-season English Premiership table-toppers had simply withdrawn the 23-year-old front row as a precautionary measure ahead of their play-off semi-final in a fortnight.

Sarries also face defending champions Toulon in the European Cup final in Cardiff on May 24.

“Mako just tightened up his hamstring, and with the games we’ve got coming up we got him off the pitch as soon as we could,” McCall said.

“We’ll have more news on that in the next few days.”

Meanwhile Saracens and England fly-half Owen Farrell was again unable to kick at goal following a foot injury, full-back Alex Goode again taking the shots at the post.

However, McCall said he expected Farrell to resume place-kicking duties against Leicester in Saracens’ final regular-season match on May 10.

“Owen’s foot is fine, but it’s just place-kicking that seems to aggravate it a small bit,” said McCall.

“So we’re just giving him a week or so without having to do that again,” the former Ireland international added.

“We’re very confident he’ll be place-kicking by the middle of next week.

“Alex Goode showed his class again against Worcester after showing his temperament last week in the Heineken (European) Cup semi-final win over Clermont.”

Defeat left bottom of the table Worcester on the brink of relegation.

Their only hope of survival is if whichever club wins the second-tier Championship final is denied a place in the Premiership because they fail to meet off-field criteria.

A ruling on the suitability of the ground facilities of the four Championship semi-finalists — Bristol, Leeds, London Welsh and Rotherham — is expected to be made public on Friday.

However, Worcester boss Dean Ryan was already preparing the Midlands club for life in English rugby union’s second division next season.

“We’re in the Championship now, so we can stop talking about ifs,” he said. “We’re in the Championship and that’s going to drive us on, because that’s going to hurt.”

Elsewhere, Leicester coach Richard Cockerill praised the contribution of Toulouse-bound Toby Flood after the former England outside-half scored two of their five tries in a 42-22 win at Sale.

Victory guaranteed the reigning English champions a play-off place and Cockerill said of Flood: “He did some good things out there for us and his attitude was great.”

Meanwhile England World Cup-winner Mike Tindall was on the verge of announcing his retirement following Gloucester’s 38-30 win at home to London Irish.

Now a player-coach with the Cherry and Whites, the 35-year-old centre won 75 caps and was in midfield when England beat Australia in the 2003 World Cup final in Sydney.

“Looks like the last game at Kingsholm has been played. Gutted it has to end. Good win to finish though. Love to the #glawsfamily,” Tindall told his Twitter followers.

Asked about his post, Tindall — who is married to Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II — added: “I don’t want to say anything now — I will do it at some point next week.”

Saturday’s other Premiership match saw seventh-placed Wasps all but secure a play-off against a French Top 14 side for the final spot in next season’s new European Rugby Champions Cup after a 44-38 win at home to Newcastle.

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