European Rugby Challenge Cup: Chris Ashton scores hat-trick on Sale debut against Connacht

Chris Ashton celebrates scoring his first try for Sale
Chris Ashton had not played since being sent off in a pre-season game against Castres on 17 August
Sale: (13) 34
Tries: Ashton 3, Beaumont Cons: De Klerk 4 Pens: De Klerk 2
Connacht: (13) 13
Tries: Delahunt Cons: Fitzgerald Pens: Fitzgerald 2

England winger Chris Ashton got a hat-trick on his competitive debut as Sale beat Connacht in the Challenge Cup.

Ashton, who missed the first seven weeks of the season after being banned for a tip tackle in pre-season, raced in at the end of the first half.

His try cancelled out Shane Delahunt's score five minutes earlier as the teams went in level at 13-13 at half-time.

Josh Beaumont increased the lead before Ashton went over twice more to seal the bonus point.

Sale had a difficult start as Faf de Klerk was sin-binned in the opening minutes for a deliberate knock-on, but the Sharks were only 3-0 down after Conor Fitzgerald's penalty.

Fitzgerald kicked a second penalty followed by two from De Klerk before Delahunt went over in the corner after some good forward play before Ashton's opener.

But Sale dominated the second period as Beaumont and Ashton both crossed in a three-minute period, before the winger - who was named in Eddie Jones' England squad - secured a bonus point with 15 minutes left as Sale took advantage of Paul Boyle's yellow card for tackling a player without the ball.

Sale: S James; McGuigan, O'Connor, Van Rensburg, Ashton; Wilkinson, De Klerk; Harrison, Webber, John, Evans, Phillips, Ross (capt), T Curry, Beaumont.

Replacements: Langdon, Bristow, Tarus, Nott, B Curry, Cliff, L James, Reed

Connacht: O'Halloran; Adeolokun, Farrell, Godwin, DeBuitlear; Fitzgerald, Blade (capt); Buckley, Delahunt, Carey, Dillane, Cannon, Boyle, Fainga'a Copeland.

Replacements: McCartney, Burke, O'Donnell, Maksymiw, Connolly, Mitchell, Horwitz, Griffin.

Referee: Ben Whitehouse

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