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Exeter issue Luke Cowan-Dickie update amid Six Nations injury fears

By PA
Luke Cowan-Dickie writhes in pain - PA

Exeter hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie has given new England head coach Steve Borthwick an injury scare four weeks before the Six Nations opener against Scotland.

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Cowan-Dickie limped off nursing an ankle problem after scoring two tries in the Chiefs’ 35-12 Gallagher Premiership victory over Northampton at Sandy Park.

Exeter head to South Africa on Sunday ahead of next weekend’s Heineken Champions Cup appointment with the Bulls in Pretoria.

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“He has rolled his ankle and I am not quite sure where he is at,” Exeter head coach Ali Hepher said.

“But to get him off the pitch, it must be pretty sore, so we will obviously assess where he is.”

Chiefs’ Scotland international full-back Stuart Hogg, meanwhile, is battling to overcome a heel injury that has sidelined him for the last two Premiership games.

“He has got a bruised heel,” Hepher added. “He tested today, he tried to run on Monday and today, but didn’t look too great.

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“It (South Africa trip) is obviously a quick turnaround and we can’t take the whole squad out there. We just need to make a quick call on that and get a good read on it pretty early.”

Exeter’s bonus-point success saw them climb three places to fifth after first-half tries from Cowan-Dickie, number eight Sam Simmonds and wing Olly Woodburn put them in control.

“The conditions were so bad it restricted what you could do, but tactically on the whole we were superb,” Hepher said.

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“That was the reaction we wanted. We are a young improving side and we got a lot of learnings out there.”

Centre Henry Slade also scored, while fly-half Joe Simmonds kicked five conversions, with Saints restricted to tries from Fraser Dingwall and Matt Proctor, plus a George Furbank conversion.

Northampton, though, once again underlined a chronic lack of consistency, suffering a comprehensive reversal just six days after crushing Harlequins 46-17.

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It was their fourth defeat from the last five games in all competitions and they must now regroup for fierce Champions Cup examinations against Munster and La Rochelle.

Saints rugby director Phil Dowson said: “We were so poor in so many areas and inaccurate. We didn’t get it right today and we need to work out why.

“We showed some bits, but it was too little, too late.

“Inconsistency is the biggest challenge, trying to find it. We were really good last weekend and we were fairly inaccurate and poor this week.

“We didn’t lack energy or effort, there were just lots of mistakes.”

Dowson, meanwhile, said that England forward Courtney Lawes is closing in on a return after suffering a glute injury last month.

“He trained towards the back end of last week with the non-playing squad and got through all that,” Dowson added.

“Hopefully, he will be in the mix for selection (against Munster next weekend).”

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