Apr 22, 2014
Ashton on course for record
Saracens and England wing, Chris Ashton, is hot on the heels of one of the longest standing records in Heineken Cup history.
His two tries in Saracens’ stunning quarter-final victory over Ulster Rugby at Ravenhill not only steered the Aviva Premiership leaders into their third semi-final, but also took him to within one try of the record for a season of 10. That was set back in 1996/97 by Brive’s Sebastien Carrat, who marked his Heineken Cup debut with four tries against Neath and ended his first campaign with a brace in the French club’s comprehensive victory over Leicester Tigers at the National Ground, Cardiff Arms Park. Carrat’s 10 tries came in seven games, with further tries coming against Caledonia (2), Harlequins and Ulster as Brive swept all before them to win the title without dropping a game.
Since then the only player to get close to Carrat’s record was Swansea and Wales wing, Matthew Robinson, who scored nine tries in the 2000/01 season when the All Whites reached the quarter-finals. His tally included a four-try haul against London Wasps, a brace against L’Aquila home and away and a ninth against Wasps in the return match.
Ashton, who is this season’s leading try scorer in the Heineken Cup, marked his first season at Saracens with four Heineken Cup tries and this term has overtaken Chris Wyles (8) as the club’s leading try scorer in the tournament with 13 in 15 outings.
He has only failed to score in one of his games this season - against Toulouse at Wembley Stadium - and has picked up three against Connacht, three against Zebre, one in Toulouse and two in the quarter-final.
His previous best return in Europe was the seven tries in six games when Northampton Saints won the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2008/09. He has now scored 28 tries in 38 European games for Saints and Saracens, and boasts 21 Heineken Cup tries in 32 games.
Carrat’s 10 tries in one season was equalled by London Wasps wing, Tom Varndell, in the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2009/10.