Sharks to learn from Ashton’s French lessons
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.”