McCall salutes Ashton's heroics

PA Sport
Saracens' Chris Ashton, centre, during the Aviva Premiership match at Twickenham
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Saracens' Chris Ashton, centre, during the Aviva Premiership match at Twickenham

Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall praised Chris Ashton's attitude after the England winger's two-try debut in his new club's 40-3 thumping of London Irish at Twickenham.

Ashton bounced back from a first-half sin-binning to strike twice in the second and help Sarries open their account with a bonus-point win.

"He brings something different, he's never far away from where the action is, particularly when we've got the ball," said McCall.

"He pops up in unusual positions, which is exactly what we wanted. We are hoping he will take our attacking game forward. He played really well today and a lot of the others did too."

Ashton made his feelings clearly known after referee Wayne Barnes brandished a yellow card for his late challenge on fly-half Steve Shingler.

But McCall admitted: "It wasn't his finest hour. He didn't use his arms in the tackle. It was an indisciplined thing to have done and I've no complaints about the decision."

Brian Smith, the London Irish director of rugby, lamented: "It was a tough afternoon, particularly disappointing for us.

"We came into the season off a very solid win down in Cork so we came into this in a good space. Our preparation was very good. We probably needed to pick up all the points on offer in the first half and stay in touch. We didn't do that so when we conceded the first try it was a big margin.

"That hurt us a little bit and put us under a lot of pressure. We're disappointed but we accept and understand that's the price you pay when you're trying to build things and get better."

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