Challenge Cup round-up: Chris Ashton notches Sale hat-trick, Worcester and Northampton victorious
Last Updated: 20/10/18 6:27pm
A recap of all the weekend's European Challenge Cup action, as Chris Ashton notches a Sale hat-trick on debut.
Sale Sharks 34-13 Connacht
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 picked up in pre-season for a tip tackle. 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 27-21 Ospreys
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.
Zebre 20-17 Bristol
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 70-12 Timisoara Saracens
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 21-15 Stade Francais
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.
Dragons 21-35 Northampton
On Friday, Northampton Saints claimed a bonus-point victory over Dragons in the Challenge Cup by deservedly winning 35-21 at Rodney Parade.
Two tries from David Ribbans helped the Saints to victory in an entertaining Group One encounter in Newport, with Alex Mitchell and Cobus Reinach also touching down.
The Welsh side's cause was not helped when back row Lewis Evans and centre Adam Warren were each sent to the sin bin in the space of two first-half minutes, a period which also saw Northampton awarded a penalty try.
Agen 20-19 Benetton
In Pool Five, French club Agen came from 12 points down to edge a close encounter with Benetton Rugby 20-19.
Two early tries from hooker Luca Bigi put the Italian side in control at Stade Armandie before a converted score from Antoine Miquel and Jake McIntyre's penalty reduced the deficit to two points at the break.
Iliesa Ratuva crossed to increase the visitors' lead but Australian fly-half McIntyre, who ended the match with 10 points, kicked another penalty and then converted Yoan Tanga's try to earn his team victory.
La Rochelle 64-26 Enisei-STM
Elsewhere, Romaric Camou claimed two of La Rochelle's 10 tries as they swept aside Enisei-STM in Pool Four for the second successive week.
The French club, who recorded an 82-21 success in the reverse fixture last week, were 64-26 winners against the Russian team, who were reduced to 14 men following Maxime Gargalic's 26th-minute red card.