ENGLAND (35) vs AUSTRALIA (18)
ENGLAND hero Chris Ashton has dedicated his match-winning performance against Australia to his late father Kevin, who persuaded him not to turn his back on the sport little more than a year ago.
Ashton’s pair of tries – the second a 90m virtuoso effort – crowned an exhilarating 35-18 triumph over the Wallabies on Saturday as Martin Johnson’s side enjoyed the outstanding result of his reign.
Afterwards the Northampton wing revealed he considered a return to his rugby league roots, having initially struggled to make an impact in the Premiership, but was coaxed into persevering by his father, who passed away in May.
“My Dad didn’t want me to go back to rugby league with my head in my hands and say sorry,” said Ashton, who began his career with Wigan Warriors before switching codes in 2007.
“I had a lot of help at Northampton but my dad helped get me back on track. He was close to my thoughts when I dived over. I won’t forget those days, when I was sat in Northampton and thinking about going back to rugby league. I have been in that place, I know what it feels like and I don’t want to go back there.”
England’s victory was as stylish as it was richly enjoyed by the Twickenham crowd, with Ashton’s second try the epitome of a morale-boosting performance that erased memories of last week’s defeat to New Zealand.
“I think it takes over from the try I scored against Australia in the summer as my favourite,” the 23-year-old added.
“England take a lot of stick for not playing with the ball and I thought we did exactly that. It was exactly what we have been wanting to do, to play from our line and not kick it away.”
Samoa are next up on Saturday before England round off their autumn with a clash against more southern hemisphere heavyweights in the form of South Africa, and Ashton is targeting two more wins.
“We’ve won our last two Tests against Australia and played well in both, but we have to back it up next week and prove against Samoa we’re going in the right direction,” he said.
“We have got two more big games coming up and we need to win both to know where we are as a team.
“This was only my second game at Twickenham and I am just grateful to be involved in these wins. Hopefully I will be for another decade. There is a good group of lads who are sticking together.”
Three more solo England tries at Twickenham
Jonny Wilkinson showed the more creative side of his game versus the All Blacks in 2002, collecting his own chip to score under the posts.
Solo tries don’t have to be all about speed as Lawrence Dallaglio proved in 2000, dragging half the Wales pack with him over the line.
Last gasp drama in 1965 with Andy Hancock running 95 yards on a quagmire of a pitch to level the scores against Scotland.