Ashton hat-trick burns BaaBaas
Ashton hat-trick burns BaaBaasSHARE
Chris Ashton scored a hat-trick as England warmed up for their South African tour with a record 57-26 win over a hapless Barbarians team at Twickenham on Sunday.
As is the case with almost all BaaBaas matches, defence was not at a premium, but England did show some impressive attacking form against the star-studded invitation outfit – captained by World Cup-winning Bok skipper John Smit.
Most impressive of the England backs were Ashton, who popped up all over the place, showed a real appetite for scoring and deserved the accolades that came with his trio of tries.
It was a performance of intensity and ambition, which ensures Stuart Lancaster's side can approach to tour to South Africa in good heart.
After Saracens centre Owen Farrell slotted an early penalty, England scored the first of eight tries when Ashton collected Lee Dickson's cleverly disguised inside pass to trot over under the posts in the 18th minute.
The hosts showed a willingness to swing the ball wide at every opportunity and lock Mouritz Botha – who was everywhere in a typically hardworking display – put his head down and charged for the corner on the half hour mark, only to be kept out but some brave Barbarians defending.
But the invitational side struck back three minutes later, with New Zealand's 100-Test cap fullback Mils Muliaina finishing classily after former England wing Iain Balshaw's chip ahead bounced into his path. Fellow Kiwi and 2011 World Cup hero Stephen Donald added the extras.
But England took control in the closing moments of the half. First Dylan Hartley scored after a clinical catch-and-drive line-out move and then Ashton scooted over for his second after Hartley's powerful break gave space for Farrell to deliver a simple scoring pass.
Ashton collected his hat-trick just five minutes after the break before Muliaina – who was superb in attack and defence – collected Casey Laulala's stunning offload to score in the corner.
As the game reached the hour mark, Christian Wade marked his debut with a try. The London Wasps flier looked dangerous with his pace throughout but the 21-year-old had the simple task of ambling over the line after captain Phil Dowson's perfectly timed pass.
The heat rose at Twickenham but the tries kept on coming, with former England captain Mike Tindall barging through two would-be tacklers after taking a quick tap penalty. Then replacement scrumhalf Richard Wigglesworth neatly sidestepped his way under the posts after Ashton raced clear down the right.
Jonathan Joseph became the second senior debutant to score, collecting Farrell's kick to take advantage of a gaping hole in the Barbarians defence, before replacement Raphael Lakafia grabbed a late consolation for the visitors. Joseph then added another at the death.
Tries: Ashton 3, Hartley, Wade, Wigglesworth, Joseph 2
Cons: Farrell 7
For the Barbarians:
Tries: Muliaina 2, Tindall, Taele
Cons: Donald 2, Contepomi
England: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Charlie Hodgson, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson (captain), 7 Carl Fearns, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Paul Doran Jones, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Matt Stevens.
Replacements: 16 Lee Mears, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Joe Launchbury, 19 Jamie Gibson, 20 Richard Wigglesworth, 21 Jonathan Joseph, 22 Alex Goode.
Barbarians: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 Ian Balshaw, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 John Beattie, 6 Ernst Joubert, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 John Afoa, 2 John Smit (captain), 1 Neemia Tialata.
Replacements: 16 Benoit August, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Pelu Taele, 19 Raphael Lakafia, 20 Jerome Fillol, 21 Felipe Contepomi, 22 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Simon McDowell (Ireland)