Sport Rugby

Friday 20 April 2018

Ashton makes hay against Baa-Baas

England 57 Barbarians 26

Mick Cleary at Twickenham

The next time England take the field they may well experience the sapping heat they encountered at Twickenham yesterday but, in every other regard, the first Test against South Africa in Durban in a fortnight's time will be a far more searching examination of their abilities than anything the Barbarians put their way yesterday. There were two unprecedented drinks breaks. You half expected the Baa-Baas to reach for the martini cocktails.

England, who worryingly had their captain Phil Dowson carried off with a head injury after tackling his opposite number Johnnie Beattie in the second half, were sharp at times, disjointed at others, particularly in defence, but they stayed the course.

They finished strongly and made the opposition pay for their waywardness. It was a record score as well as margin in the dozen years of the fixture, but the fractured nature of the game lends itself to such distortions. There was a welcome return to the scoresheet for Chris Ashton, who marked his hat-trick with a routine touching down of the ball now that he has vowed to dispense with the 'Ash-Splash' celebration. The first try came in the 15th minute, ending a barren run that stretched back to October 1.

There were heartening displays from newcomers Tom Johnson and Christian Wade, who scored one of England's eight tries, as well as London Irish's Jonathan Joseph, who capped a rousing 30-minute cameo as a replacement with two tries.

Owen Farrell was unusually off-key. He finished with 17 points, although he made a horrible mess of two kicks. Ashton scored three of England's first four tries, and there was a loud cheer for Mike Tindall's try for the Barbarians in the 63rd minute. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

England -- B Foden (A Goode 50); C Ashton, B Barritt, O Farrell, C Wade; C Hodgson (J Joseph 50), L Dickson (R Wigglesworth 61); M Stevens (M Mullan 41), D Hartley, P Doran-Jones, M Botha (J Launchbury 56), T Palmer, T Johnson, C Fearns (J Gibson 56), P Dowson (L Mears 60).

Barbarians -- M Muliaina; P Sackey (S Tagicakibau 44), C Laulala, M Tindall (F Contepomi 68), I Balshaw; S Donald, R Lawson (J Fillol 57); N Tialata (D Jones 60), J Smit, J Afoa, M Chisholm, A van Zyl, E Joubert, A Qera (R Lakafia 60), J Beattie ( P Taele 68).

Ref -- J Lacey (IRFU).

Irish Independent

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