Ashton hat-trick powers England past Barbarians
May 27, 2012
England winger Chris Ashton races in to score the first of his tries at a sun-baked Twickenham
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Chris Ashton rediscovered his scoring touch with a hat-trick as England warmed up for their tour of South Africa with a record 57-26 victory over the Barbarians in their traditional end-of-season clash at a sun-baked Twickenham.
Story of the Game
England ran in eight tries in total, including a score for hooker Dylan Hartley on his return to action after an eight-week biting ban. Christian Wade capped a busy afternoon on his senior debut with a try just before the hour and England's win was rounded off by a try from Richard Wigglesworth and two from Jonathan Joseph.
England will be disappointed to have conceded four tries to the Barbarians, one of which was scored by the former red rose centre Mike Tindall. Mils Muliaina had touched down for the first two and Biarritz's Pelu Taele scored their fourth.
England coach Stuart Lancaster was without 18 members of his touring squad who were involved in yesterday's Aviva Premiership final between Harlequins and Leicester. Phil Dowson captained England in the absence of Chris Robshaw, who led Harlequins to the title, while Dylan Hartley started at hooker in his first game back after serving an eight-week biting ban. The Barbarians were captained by John Smit and featured 2011 World Cup-winners Mils Muliaina, John Afoa and Stephen Donald.
England were determined to stamp their own mark on the game as they prepared to face the Springboks and not get dragged into playing a Barbarian-style of rugby. The England pack drove 20 metres right from the kick-off and then Dowson opted to go for the posts with an early penalty, which Farrell converted.
England were hungrier in the tackle and Dowson combined with Paul Doran-Jones to earn a second penalty at the breakdown but Farrell scuffed his kick low and wide. Those kicks were greeted by murmurs of disapproval from some of the Twickenham crowd but England expanded their game as the half wore on.
The Barbarians looked to attack from deep when Smit's floated pass to Casey Laulala drew Wade out of the defensive line. England were not to be outshone on the attacking front and they came within inches of scoring the opening try from a move sparked by Matt Stevens' offload to Tom Palmer.
Mouritz Botha galloped on before England spun the ball wide to Farrell, whose grubber kick skipped into touch just before Wade could pounce on it. Lee Dickson then made two sniping runs, perhaps a response to Danny Care's performance yesterday, before creating the opening try.
The Northampton scrum-half drifted right and then sent Chris Ashton racing through a gap in the Barbarians defence to score under the posts. Wade got his first chance to open his legs and he regathered his own chip ahead after causing confusion in the Barbarians defence.
England moved the ball wide right with quick hands from Ben Foden creating the overlap but Farrell's pass to Botha was too early and he failed to check Laulala, the last defender. Botha's power kept him in-field and he offloaded the ball back inside but Brad Barritt knocked it on just a yard from the line as he tried to regather off the grass. It was a frustrating inaccuracy from England and it cost them as the Barbarians moved up-field and Iain Balshaw's kick fell for Mils Muliaina to touch down.
England responded immediately. Dowson instructed Farrell to kick a penalty for touch so England could exploit their dominant lineout drive and they executed it to perfection. Hartley looped around to regather the ball as England drove in-field and then over the line for the Northampton hooker to mark his return to action with a try.
Farrell scuffed another kick but then supplied the scoring pass for Ashton to score a second try as England took control of the match. Hartley's break created the opening and Farrell's inside ball allowed Ashton to beat Paul Sackey and touch down.
Ashton was England's most effective attacker and he combined with Barritt to carve his way through the Barbarians defence. Although he was well tracked by Muliaina, the England wing was soon back in the try-scoring routine, hacking on a loose ball to complete his hat-trick.
The Barbarians responded with Muliaina's second try after a moment of attacking quality from Laulala, who drew two defenders and supplied the one-handed scoring pass. Wade had been busy all game and his jinking run and pass released Botha on direct line towards the posts but Tom Palmer could not hold the offload and the chance went begging. But England kept the pressure on and worked an overlap for Wade to mark his first senior international appearance with a try.
The tries came thick and fast in the closing quarter. England worked a delightful try for replacement scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who finished off an Ashton break after a delightful pass from Tom Johnston.
Mike Tindall, who was dropped by England after the World Cup, marked his Twickenham return with a try for the Barbarians after taking a quick tap penalty. England will be frustrated to concede again, to Pelu Taele, but Jonathan Joseph came off the bench to wrap up the victory with two tries of his own.
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