Moody declares himself fit for England after Harlequins draw

Lewis Moody is ready to lead England into battle against New Zealand on Saturday after coming through Bath's 6-6 draw with Harlequins relatively unscathed.

The England captain required stitches to a head wound early in the first half – but that will not stop him from taking on the All Blacks at Twickenham.

Moody had been released from England's training camp to make his return to action at The Stoop after a month sidelined by a serious eye injury.

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The 32-year-old bruised the retina of his left eye in a collision with Gloucester full-back Charlie Sharples and his vision is still not perfect. It may never be.

But Moody was in the thick of the action from the outset and relieved that memories of the injury did not hold him back. Now he is gunning for the All Blacks.

"I was a bit nervous going into the game that I would not pick the ball up as quickly but it was fine. Even in the dwindling light conditions it did not affect me," said Moody.

"There was a very similar situation where the guy was lining up the kick and I didn't hold back in going to charge him down. That was a good mental thing.

"The eye's all right – it was a case of getting my eye in, so to speak!"

New Zealand had their 15-game winning streak ended by Australia in Hong Kong.

"Whether they win, lose or draw their previous game, that's irrelevant with the All Blacks. They are a quality side," said Moody.

"We know they'll be fired up to play at Twickenham and the boys have trained hard for the last week, so we're looking forward to it."

Bath coach Steve Meehan revealed a "perfect world" plan had been agreed with England that Moody would be replaced before the end if possible.

When Bath lost Luke Watson to injury, Moody knew he would be on until the end. It may not have suited the watching Martin Johnson but Moody was happy enough.

"I just wanted to get out and play. I've had three or four weeks without a game and that's never good for a player, it's frustrating," he said.

"Having three or four weeks off is not ideal for your fitness but I was really happy to be on the field at the end," he said.

The game ended as a 6-6 draw with two penalties apiece from Harlequins fly-half Nick Evans and Bath centre Olly Barkley.

Substitute Lesley Vainikolo scored with 90 seconds left to give Gloucester their fourth successive Premiership win, seeing off the challenge of Leicester


The former England wing powered over in blockbusting fashion, claiming a try that required confirmation from the video referee before it was awarded.

Goalkickers Nicky Robinson and Billy Twelvetrees had earlier cancelled each other out at Kingsholm, slotting four penalties apiece.

Exeter recorded their first away Premiership victory with an impressive display beating high-flying Saracens 23-9 at Vicarage Road.

Fly-half Ryan Davis, making his first Premiership start, was their hero as he touched down for one of two Exeter tries in his personal haul of 18 points.

Brett Sturgess scored the visitors' other try to seal a contest which had otherwise seen Davis and his Saracens counterpart Andy Goode trade penalties.

Northampton overcame the absence of their England quartet to convincingly defeat lowly Newcastle 34-13 at Franklin's Gardens.

London Irish returned to the summit thanks to a last-gasp try from winger Jonathan Joseph in their 39-26 victory over Sale Sharks.