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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Injury scare as Cumbrian Phil Dowson stretchered off for England

England are optimistic Phil Dowson will be fit to fly to Johannesburg for the tour of South Africa despite being stretchered off in the 57-26 victory over the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Dowson suffered a nasty knock to the head to give England head coach and fellow Cumbrian Stuart Lancaster a late selection scare.

Lancaster handed the Northampton Saints back-row, from Caldbeck, the captaincy for the run-out ahead of the three-Test tour.

But Dowson ended up being carried off midway through the final quarter after taking a smack on the head in the build-up to the seventh of his side’s eight tries.

However, Lancaster is confident the former Wigton Rugby Club youngster will be fit to take his seat on the flight on Wednesday.

England’s Penrith-born coach said Dowson would be subject to the usual medical protocols relating to concussion-type injuries, but added: “I’ve had a conversation with him and I think he’ll be fine.

“The good thing is that there’s a bit of time before the first Test against the Springboks.”

England face their first Test against South Africa in Durham on Saturday week.

Chris Ashton rediscovered his scoring touch with a Twickenham hat-trick as England warmed up for their tour with a comfortable victory over the Barbarians.

Ashton, the joint-leading try-scorer at the World Cup, had drawn a blank in each of his last six Test matches but he roamed menacingly yesterday and touched down twice before the interval and once after.

Although this was not a capped international, a third hat-trick in England colours was a timely confidence boost for Ashton.

Lancaster said: “I am pleased for Chris that he has got the three tries. His work rate off the ball is tremendous. Sometimes he can work and not get the off-loads but today he did and it is great.

“Credit to him for working hard and getting the rewards. As a team we recognise areas we still want to improve and tighten up on but overall he and others did well. I am pleased.”

Lancaster has also stated he expects Toby Flood to be fit, despite the injured Leicester fly-half being withdrawn from both the Aviva Premiership semi-final and Saturday’s final.

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