Ashton bags hat-trick as England cruise

Christian Wade (centre)

Christian Wade (centre)

First published in National Sport News © by

Chris Ashton rediscovered his scoring touch with a Twickenham hat-trick as England warmed up for their tour of South Africa with a comfortable 57-26 victory over the Barbarians.

Ashton had drawn a blank in each of his last six Test matches but he roamed menacingly and touched down twice before the interval and once after. Jonathan Joseph scored two tries and there were singles for Dylan Hartley, Christian Wade and Richard Wigglesworth, while Owen Farrell kicked seven conversions and a penalty.

In reply, there were two tries for the Barbarians' Mils Muliaina, and singles for Mike Tindall and Pelu Taele-Pvihi, with Stephen Donald converting twice and Felipe Contepomi once.

Although this was not a capped international, a third hat-trick in England colours was a timely confidence boost for Ashton before next month's three-Test series against the Springboks.

The tries were taken soberly by the joint-leading try-scorer at the World Cup too. There was no sign of the elaborate and controversial 'Ash Splash' dive he pledged to shelve as "the end of an era".

England hooker Hartley accepted his own opportunity to make a fresh start with both hands, scoring a try and organising England's forward effort effectively on his return from an eight-week biting ban.

Of those who caught the eye without making the scoresheet, Mouritz Botha produced a barnstorming second row performance and Tom Johnson delivered a strong display on the blindside flank.

England coach Stuart Lancaster still has issues to resolve before the Test series, not least over who should start at fly-half after a rusty performance from Farrell.

England will also be disappointed to have conceded four tries to the Barbarians, one of which was scored by former red rose centre Tindall.

The England touring squad will be boosted by the 18-strong Harlequins and Leicester contingent, who were unavailable after Saturday's sensational Aviva Premiership final.

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