European club rugby’s all-time record try scorer, Chris Ashton, made his competitive debut for Sale Sharks in the Challenge Cup today as the two-time tournament winners met Connacht Rugby at the AJ Bell Stadium.
Both clubs won their respective matches on the opening weekend, but it was Ashton’s side who left the game with their record intact.
Ashton may have been given a seven week suspension following his red card during Sale’s pre-season fixture against Castres Olympique on Friday 17 August but he went some way to making it up to Sharks fans with a remarkable three-try haul.
Ashton’s three tries along with a try from Josh Beaumont proved to much for Connacht, with Steve Diamond’s side ultimately running out 34 – 13 winners.
Scorers: Sharks – Try. Ashton (3); Beaumont Con. De Klerk (4); Pens. De Klerk (2) Connacht – Try Delahunt; Con.Fitzgerald; Pens.Fitzgerald (2)
SALE SHARKS – Sam James, Chris Ashton, James O’Connor, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Byron McGuigan, Kieran Wilkinson, Faf De Klerk, Ross Harrison, Rob Webber, WillGriff John, Bryn Evans, James Phillips, Jono Ross (capt), Ben Curry, Josh Beaumont. Replacements: Curtis Langdon, Tom Bristow, Alexandru Tarus, George Nott, Tom Curry, Will Cliff, Luke James (Janse Van Rensburg 23), Arron Reed
CONNACHT RUGBY – Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Kyle Godwin, Colm DeBuitlear, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade (capt), Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Paul Boyle, Colby Fainga’a, Robin Copeland. Replacements: Tom McCartney, Matthew Burke, Conan O’Donnell, Joe Maksymiw, James Connolly, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Eoin Griffin Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
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