English wing tots up 21 tries so far this season – equalling Napolioni Nalaga’s record
Chris Ashton Equals Top 14 Try-Scoring Record
Former England, Saracens and Northampton Saints winger Chris Ashton has been in scintillating try-scoring form for French outfit Toulon. And yesterday he ensured his name will be in the Top 14 record books by the end of the season.
In scoring a try in Toulon’s 49-0 rout of Clermont, he drew level with ex-Clermont wing Napolioni Nalaga’s league record of 21 tries in a season, which he sat back in season 2008-09. With four rounds of regular season action left before the Top 14 heads into its play-offs, there is still time for Ashton to overtake Nalaga for the outright record.
The Toulon romp ensures that reigning Top 14 champions Clermont will not make the play-offs this season.
Both teams head into the European Champions Cup quarter-finals this weekend. Levels of anticipation in Munster will be raised after Toulon’s seven-try showing before they head to Thomond Park. While Ashton splashed into headlines, it was the centres who made things happen, with the bombastic Mathieu Bastareaud and Malakai Fekitoa dominating. With Ma’a Nonu also available for the European clash, Toulon have menacing options.
Clermont would have felt positive ahead of the Toulon clash, with a strong team selection and the encouraging returns of invaluable half-backs Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez. However, they now head into their Euro quarter-final match with Racing 92, off the back of a battering.
As Clermont boss Franck Azema said: “Conceding 50 points before a European Cup quarter-final is humiliating. I had trouble doing my job this week and failed to motivate the guys. We are not going to hide – everything was bad.”
Ashton, 31 on Thursday, is not the only trailblazer on the wings of Toulon. Remember Vincent Clerc? The veteran wide-out notched his 100th Top 14 try this month. The prolific 36-year-old wing only needs one more score to become the top try-scorer in Top 14 history. Wow!