Ash­ton and Cueto grab hat-tricks to de­mol­ish Ro­ma­nia

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - Rugbyunion sport -

CHRIS Ash­ton be­came the lead­ing try-scorer in the Rugby World Cup with his hat-trick against Ro­ma­nia and then de­clared: “I’m back on song”.

The Northamp­ton wing took two matches to find his feet af­ter un­der­go­ing knee surgery dur­ing the sum­mer but he has come roar­ing back into try-scor­ing form.

Ash­ton’s tre­ble on Satur­day was the sec­ond of his Test ca­reer and took his tour­na­ment tally to five – just three short of the World Cup record held jointly by Bryan Ha­bana (2007) and Jonah Lomu (1999).

“I do feel I’m back on song again,” said Ash­ton, whose Eng­land strike rate is a re­mark­able 14 tries in 16 Tests.

“It does take a few weeks to get back into it, even though you deny it. It nat­u­rally takes a few games to get used to run­ning around and be­ing in po­si­tion again.”

Ash­ton be­came the fourth Eng­land player to score a World Cup hat-trick – af­ter his fel­low wing Mark Cueto had be­come the third.

Cueto – nick­named ‘Conker Tree’ by Ash­ton and Ben Fo­den be­cause he’s the old­est of Eng­land’s back three – missed the open­ing two games of the World Cup with a back in­jury.

But the Sale wing made an im­me­di­ate mark on the tour­na­ment with three tries in the space of 12 min­utes which set Eng­land on their way to a 67-3 rout of the sec­ond-string Ro­ma­ni­ans.

While Ash­ton had gone five games with­out a try be­fore his dou­ble against Ge­or­gia, Cueto’s record was one in his pre­vi­ous 25 Tests be­fore Satur­day.

“It’s good to have the old man back in the team,” Ash­ton said. “I’m glad he scored some tries.”

Ash­ton had a role in two of them be­fore run­ning in his own hat-trick, with two touch­downs in the first-half and the third seal­ing Eng­land’s 10-try romp.

“It was def­i­nitely nice to re­ply (to Cueto),” said Ash­ton.

“I was get­ting a bit scared when he had three and I had none. I wanted a try at some point and thank­fully the lads put me in for a few.”

Cueto’s re­turn along­side Ash­ton and full-back Fo­den re­united Eng­land’s first-choice unit and they carved Ro­ma­nia open time and again.

“The rap­port is just a nat­u­ral thing. Some­times it hap­pens with play­ers, some­times it doesn’t. You just tend to click,” Ash­ton said.

“We seem to do that. I can’t tell you why that is.”

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