Sharks to learn from Ash­ton’s French lessons

Manchester Evening News - - SPORT - RUGBY UNION By CARI MORRIS and CHRIS OSTICK

SALE Sharks will be tap­ping in to a lit­tle bit of Chris Ash­ton’s know-how when they take on Bordeaux in to­day’s Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup clash.

The Eng­land ace joined the club in the sum­mer af­ter spend­ing a year with Top 14 side Toulon.

While there, he broke the league’s try-scor­ing record – in­clud­ing one against Bordeaux.

And Ash­ton, who will play as full-back for the Sharks, be­lieves his team-mates will learn a lot from to­day’s visit.

He told M.E.N. Sport: “I think it’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence for us go­ing to places like Bordeaux on the week­end or in the Euro­pean Chal­lenge Cup in gen­eral. The rugby in France is a lot slower and the play­ers are a lot big­ger, so it’s go­ing to be a dif­fer­ent con­test.

“There are very, very good teams in the Top 14, and then there are some who are not so good – there’s quite a big dif­fer­ence be­tween the top and the bot­tom teams.

“But I re­ally en­joyed play­ing over there.

“I played with some of the best play­ers in the world, it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence that is re­ally valu­able to me.”

Bordeaux lie sixth in the Top 14, with six wins from their 11 matches so far this sea­son.

How­ever, they are strug­gling in Europe, ly­ing third in a Pool 3 topped by Sale, with two de­feats so far. But Ash­ton has warned the Sharks could face a hos­tile re­cep­tion at the Stade Cha­ban-Del­mas to­day.

“I’m very ex­cited to go back to Bordeaux, it’s a lovely town, a good rugby town.

“They have the high­est at­ten­dance in the league, so I’m look­ing for­ward to it, it’s a good sta­dium, they’re a great team.

“They’ve just got a new coach so I think they’ll be look­ing to win.”

Two open­ing wins have left Sale with max­i­mum points in the group, and two vic­to­ries to­day and in next week’s re­turn against Bordeux at the AJ Bell Sta­dium will al­most cer­tainly se­cure them a place in the next round.

“We hope so, we’re in a good po­si­tion at the minute,” said Ash­ton.

“So we’ve just got to use it to keep go­ing with mo­men­tum and keep play­ing well and I don’t see why we can’t do well in this com­pe­ti­tion if we get some­thing out of this week­end’s game.”

The Sharks have shuf­fled their pack with just six play­ers keep­ing their start­ing spot from last week’s Premier­ship draw with Bath.

And head coach Steve Di­a­mond hopes his side have learnt the lessons from their 7-7 draw at the Rec last Sun­day.

“De­fen­sively we were very good against Bath and missed a cou­ple of op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Di­a­mond.

“I was a bit dis­ap­pointed with the re­sult re­ally, but very proud of the per­for­mance from the lads.

“But we have got to start con­vert­ing these per­for­mances into wins.”

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