Chris Ashton grabs a hat-trick as Sale put Connacht to the sword
Chris Ashton boosted his England chances with a debut hat-trick as Sale thumped Connacht 34-13 in the Challenge Cup.
The 31-year-old's Sale debut was delayed by a seven-week ban for a tip tackle picked up in pre-season. But, when he finally took to the field for the Sharks in Salford, he quickly made up for lost time.
Ashton was this week named in England's squad for November's autumn Test series and handed head coach Eddie Jones a much-needed boost with his performance at the AJ Bell Stadium.
England are missing 17 players either injured or suspended ahead of a challenging four-Test autumn series, but Ashton's immediate striking of form will provide a rare chink of light for Jones.
Josh Beaumont added a score of his own to ensure Sale secured the winning bonus-point to stay top of Pool Three after two rounds.
Hooker Shane Delahunt crossed for Connacht, with Conor Fitzgerald posting a conversion and two penalties, but the Irish province were well-beaten.
Worcester held off a stern late Ospreys rally to conjure a 27-21 victory at Sixways, with fly-half Jamie Shillcock nailing a late penalty to secure victory.
The Warriors led 21-0 at the break, only for the Welsh region to storm back into the reckoning.
Shillcock bagged 17 points in all, crossing for a try and posting three conversions and two penalties.
Wynand Olivier and Jack Singleton also crossed for Worcester, while Cory Allen's brace and another score from Rob McCusker helped Ospreys apply the second-half squeeze.
Bristol slipped up in Italy, going down 20-17 to Zebre despite two tries for full-back Tom Pincus. Carlo Canna and Jim Tuivaiti grabbed the scores for Zebre, with Canna's two conversions and two penalties proving the difference between the sides.
Clermont hammered Timisoara Saracens 70-12 in the Massif Central, with full-back Setariki Tuicuvu and Apisai Naqalevu both claiming hat-tricks.
Peceli Yato stole a brace, with Peter Betham and Arthur Iturria also crossing and fly-half Patricio Fernandez converting all 10 tries.
Mesake Doge and Luke Samoa claimed the consolation scores for the Romanians.
Pau edged out Stade Francais 21-15 thanks to a Julien Blanc score and a penalty try, with Antoine Hastoy slotting three penalties.
Wing Jimmy Yobo and Piet Van Zyl crossed for Stade, but the visitors still came up short.