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Bath Rugby sign Tapuai

Ben Tapuai touches down for Western Force. Credit: PA

Bath have announced the signing of Australian Test centre Ben Tapuai.

The 27-year-old, who has won seven caps for the Wallabies, will move to Bath from Perth-based Super Rugby franchise Western Force.

"We are really excited to have Ben join us," Bath rugby director Todd Blackadder said.

"He is a really good all-rounder, which will be a great boost for us, and the experience he has of international and Super Rugby will bring a new way of looking at things and will really help develop our young midfield players."

Jones hopeful Lawes will be fit to face South Africa

Eddie Jones is hopeful that Courtney Lawes will recover from his knee injury in time to start England's clash with South Africa on Saturday week.

Lawes was a late withdrawal from Northampton's matches against Montpellier and Gloucester due to bruising on the joint and had effectively been ruled out of the Old Mutual Wealth series opener at Twickenham by his director of rugby Jim Mallinder.

England face South Africa on Saturday week. Credit: PA

But Jones is "cautiously optimistic" the 27-year-old will be passed fit as England seek to extend their flawless record under the Australian to 10 Tests.

The injury crisis which has thinned Red Rose ranks has accounted for first choice second rows Maro Itoje and George Kruis, so Jones can ill-afford to lose another option in the position.

"Courtney's medical situation is ongoing. He probably won't train much this week, if at all. We're cautiously optimistic he'll be all right for the South Africa game," Jones said.

Lawes' Northampton team-mate Dylan Hartley faces a challenging week during the five-day training camp in Portugal as he seeks to improve his fitness before leading England against the Springboks.

Hartley has made one start and one replacement appearance since recovering from a back problem and needs to prove to Jones he can get up to speed.

"We'll see if Dylan is ready at the end of the week," Jones said at the squad's hotel in Vilamoura.

"We'll have a good week's training so we'll know where every player is in terms of how ready they are to play international rugby."

Saracens dominate Leicester in Premiership crunch clash

Saracens prop Mako Vunipola on the charge against Leicester. Credit: PA

Saracens piled fresh misery on to title rivals Leicester by cruising to a 24-10 Aviva Premiership victory at Allianz Park.

The Tigers responded to a heavy defeat in Europe to Glasgow by dispatching Racing 92 last Sunday, but they have now ended a week in which they lost Australia star Matt Toomua for six months because of a knew injury by succumbing in north London.

Chris Wyles, Sean Maitland and Billy Vunipola crossed to cement Saracens' position at the summit of the Premiership table with Owen Farrell landing a penalty and three conversions.

Mako Vunipola produced another dynamic, all-action display that bodes well for England's forthcoming autumn series, although his copybook was blotted by a yellow card for felling Freddie Burns with his shoulder.

Leicester reacted to Mako Vunipola's absence by finally sounding a note of defiance and were rewarded with a try from George Catchpole, but it arrived far too late to threaten the reigning Premiership and European champions.


Four Nations report: England 16-17 New Zealand

England couldn't prevent New Zealand's narrow win. Credit: PA

New Zealand half-back Shaun Johnson was again the scourge of England as they fell agonisingly short in their Ladbrokes Four Nations opener in Huddersfield.

The man who broke English hearts in the 2013 World Cup semi-final returned to haunt them in his first game back in the country by orchestrating a 17-16 victory for New Zealand.

Johnson ran the show throughout and came up with the crucial scores, a 70-metre interception try and the winning drop goal, to put the Kiwis in sight of the Anfield final and leave England with the onerous task of beating Australia to give themselves a chance of glory.

Winger Jordan Rapana scored two of New Zealand's three tries on only his second appearance to help David Kidwell celebrate his first victory as head coach.

The narrow defeat spoiled the homecoming of new England skipper Sam Burgess, who produced a typically forceful display in a thrilling clash at a sold out John Smith's Stadium, which was marred only in the late stages when he twice over-played in his side's desperate, frantic bid to snatch the spoils.

Sam Warburton ruled out of Challenge Cup clash

Warburton could enter Wales' autumn series without having played a game. Credit: PA

Sam Warburton could enter Wales' autumn series without having played a game since undergoing surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone sustained three weeks ago.

The Blues flanker will miss Friday night's Challenge Cup clash with Pau in Cardiff due to neck stiffness, leaving him short of match fitness ahead of captaining Wales against Australia on November 5.

Only one Guinness Pro 12 fixture remains before the Wallabies visit Principality Stadium - against the Scarlets on Friday week - and he is unlikely to be risked in that with four autumn internationals looming.

The British and Irish Lions skipper had a metal plate inserted into his cheekbone to repair the injury suffered against Leinster on October 1 and while the operation was a success, his comeback has been delayed.

A Blues statement read: "Sam Warburton was not considered for selection as a precaution after experiencing some residual stiffness in his neck, but has fully recovered from surgery on a fractured cheekbone."

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