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Billy Vunipola in focus

England forward Billy Vunipola made a surprise return from a knee injury in Saracens' Aviva Premiership clash with Newcastle on Sunday.

Here, Press Association Sport puts the focus on the number eight's comeback and ahead of his anticipated return for England's Calcutta Cup meeting with Scotland on Saturday.


Starting at number eight, with older brother Mako in the front row, Vunipola was never far from the action as he took Saracens forward with his forceful bursts and demonstrated his importance to his team with a couple of important ball steals.


There were times when the 24-year-old looked to be pacing himself on his first game for four months, but he was able to skip about on Newcastle's synthetic pitch at Kingston Park, avoiding the traditional clinging mud, and played all but eight minutes of the match.


The 6ft 2in, 20st forward certainly did not hold back on his comeback, throwing himself into the tackle and causing untold damage with his barnstorming runs.


Very often their go-to man, Saracens visibly lifted when he took them forward and it was no coincidence that Newcastle scored their last two tries when he and brother Mako had been replaced.


England boss Eddie Jones will be encouraged by the display of the big ball-carrier, who will provide him with a massive lift for the last two rounds of the RBS 6 Nations as long as he suffers no adverse reaction to his first match for four months. Wasps forward Nathan Hughes had deputised in his absence but England have sorely missed their primary source of momentum since he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher against Argentina last autumn.


From Belfast Telegraph