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.

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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.

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“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.

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“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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