Chris Ashton joins Danny Cipriani in potentially jeopardising England career revival

Duncan Bech 20/08/2018
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Chris Ashton scored a hat trick for the Baa Baas against England earlier this year.

Chris Ashton has joined Danny Cipriani in potentially jeopardising his England career while in the midst of inducing its revival.

Two days after Cipriani pleaded guilty to common assault and resisting arrest following a nightclub brawl, Ashton is facing a possible ban for punching Rory Kockott in Sale’s pre-season friendly victory over Castres on Friday night.

Both players were sent off after clashing in a fiery match in Saint Affrique and although the game was staged in France, normal Rugby Football Union procedures apply.

Referee Romain Poite’s report is expected to be delivered to the RFU by Monday and given that video footage shows Ashton throwing a left hook, the dual code international could be summoned before a disciplinary hearing next week.

The entry-point sanction for punching is two weeks, but this climbs to four if it is deemed the intended target was Kockott’s head with the top end opening with an eight-week ban.

Counting against him at any hearing would be the total of 23 weeks he missed in 2016 after being found guilty of biting and making contact with the eye area of an opponent.

Those suspensions influenced his decision to join Toulon for the 2017/18 season and contributed to him failing to win a cap under Eddie Jones.

Having set a new Top 14 try-scoring record in his first year, however, Ashton left the Cote d’Azur for Sale this summer in the hope of reigniting his England career while addressing some family issues.

The prospect of adding to his 39 caps this autumn rose with his selection in Jones’ pre-season squad that met two weeks ago but a significant ban could rule him out of the next camp, which is being held in Bristol towards the end of the month.

Danny Cipriani is another player in hot water.

Danny Cipriani is another player in hot water.

Jones has a pragmatic approach to dealing with disciplinary issues but that would be tested if Ashton were to miss the opening rounds of Sale’s season, which begins at Harlequins on September 1.

Cipriani is another player whose disciplinary lapses will be trying the patience of the England head coach.

The Gloucester playmaker faces an independent disciplinary hearing next week after being charged with conduct prejudicial to the interests of the game by the RFU and could face a fine and/or ban if the complaint is upheld.

He was fined £2,000 by a magistrates’ court after pleading guilty to charges of common assault and resisting arrest following an incident that took place on his club’s pre-season tour to Jersey.

It comes two months after he had made his first England start in a decade – in the third Test against South Africa in June – and his international future is now in the hands of Jones.

Both Ashton and Cipriani are no strangers to the headlines and have yet to play a competitive match for their teams having arrived as marquee signings over the summer.

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Beating All Blacks at Eden Park for first time in 32 years would be perfect response for Wallabies

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Australia prop Adam Coleman insists going into the belly of the beast to try and gain redemption after being humbled by the All Blacks at home in their Bledisloe Cup opener provides the nation with great motivation.

The Wallabies are hurting after being humbled on their home turf and want redemption, but winning at Eden Park for the first time in more than 30 years would be the perfect response.

Coleman said they were disappointed to let a 6-5 half-time lead slip by squandering possession and failing at the set piece, with world champions New Zealand eventually sauntering to a 38-13 triumph in Sydney following a superb second half spectacle in which they ran in six tries.

But Coleman believes Australia could improve in the second match of the three-Test series on Saturday.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our boys,” he told reporters at the team’s remote island base on Monday.

“What a challenge to come to Eden Park and respond here in New Zealand. It’s great motivation for the squad.”

Work to do: Wallabies boss Michael Cheika.

Work to do: Wallabies boss Michael Cheika.

Michael Cheika’s men have retreated to Waiheke Island, 20 kilometres off the Auckland coast, to plot vengeance for their drubbing in the first Bledisloe Cup Test, which also doubled up as the opening Rugby Championship clash.

A favourite weekend getaway for Aucklanders visiting its upmarket vineyards, the island this week hosts an Aussie team desperate to stop the All Blacks claiming the Bledisloe for the 16th straight year.

Coleman, 26, was not born the last time the Wallabies beat the All Blacks at Eden Park in 1986.

But he said the Australians were relishing the opportunity to challenge the Auckland venue’s intimidating history.

“We laugh about it but we’re here to do a job,” he said.

“The boys are hurting at the moment and to come here and play at Eden Park is something we’re looking forward to.

“We get to turn around a performance that we’re not really proud of. I think we let down people on our home turf and it hurts.”

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Waisake Naholo's attacking prowess and other key stats from All Blacks win over the Wallabies

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New Zealand defeated Australia 38-13 in the first Bledisloe Cup Test in Sydney on Saturday.

The world champions scored six tries to one in a match which also doubles as the Rugby Championship opener, for their third win at the ANZ Stadium in as many years.

Here, we take a look at the key stats from the match.

142: metres made by All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo. The Fijian-born star used his speed and nimble footwork to dissect the opposition defence with ease.

13: defenders beaten by Naholo. The Highlanders man beat seven more defenders than any other player, with teammates Jack Goodhue (6) and Ben Smith (5) following behind.

2: Tries scored by Naholo in a virtuous display. His first try in particular was a gem, using his pace to collect a cleverly weighed kick from Beauden Barrett to score.

90: percentage tackle success rate for David Pocock. The Wallabies back-rower completed 18 out of 20 tackles and put his body on the line at every opportunity to disrupt the All Blacks momentum.

11: tackles made by Goodhue. The Crusaders man scored a try, made 140 metres and did not miss one tackle in a stunning performance.

5: tackles missed by winger Marika Koroibete, who for a former rugby league player was highly inconsistent in defence.

9: turnovers conceded between Beauden Barrett (5) and Naholo (4). Although it might seem a high error count, both were the stand-out players at the ANZ Stadium. Barrett scored a try and assisted Naholo’s first, while the Fijian-born star scored two and assisted Aaron Smith in the first half.

75: percentage success rate at line-out time for the All Blacks in contrast to 41 percent success rate for the Wallabies.

6: penalties conceded by the Wallabies front row in comparison to just one by the All Blacks.

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