Harlequins boss Paul Gustard instructed Chris Ashton to continue doing the ‘Ash Splash’ after the England wing celebrated his second try for the club with his signature celebration.
Northampton were battered 30-17 in the Gallagher Premiership at The Stoop with Ashton finishing a brilliant move started by the clever thinking of Mike Brown, who launched the attack with a dummy from inside his 22.
“Chris is a senior international player. He might not be in Eddie Jones’ England plans at the moment but he’s still a Test match wing and is a proven try scorer,” head of rugby Gustard said.
“He’s got a voice, is very vocal around the training group and drives up standards. He has a huge competitive side.
“You certainly know he’s around the place. He can score and dive and do whatever he wants to do because he can score points – I don’t mind him diving.”
Quins’ forgotten England contingent of Brown, Ashton, Chris Robshaw and Danny Care led the bonus-point rout that was effectively settled with half an hour to spare.
"Happy. Relieved. It was a must-win game."
"Ash got a splash in front of no fans… Embarrassing!"
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) August 30, 2020
“The spine of the team played well and when the spine plays well you get some direction in the attack and that gives us field position and a threat with the ball in hand and then the result,” Gustard said.
“Things change fast in the Premiership. The last two weeks we’ve been juggling squads and trying to prepare a team and get some cohesion.
“It didn’t quite work out as we wanted against Worcester, the first 40 minutes were the poorest performance I’ve seen as a coach. But we got it right in this game and we put on a dominant performance.”
Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd admitted a third defeat in four matches since lockdown has left Saints’ hopes of challenging for Saracens’ title on the brink of failure with five rounds still to play.
“The mountain has become pretty steep now. We’d probably need to win all five of our last five games if we are to get into the play-offs,” Boyd said.
“Given that three of those games are against sides currently in the top three, for us to make the top four would be a fantastic effort and more importantly would need a massive turnaround in form.
“We won’t do it if we continue playing like we’ve been playing. We need to find very, very quickly a different recipe or bake our recipe very much better. But the flame hasn’t gone out.”
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