Flying Ashton helps Sarries march on

Saracens thumped Oyonnax 55-13 in London on Saturday, while Wasps, Toulon, Stade Français and Bordeaux all won their European Champions Cup matches.

Saracens, already well ahead of the chasing pack in Pool 1, ran in eight tries for another bonus-point victory to open up a 14-point gap at the top of the table. Wing Chris Ashton, who failed to make England’s World Cup squad, starred by bagging a hat-trick to become the third-highest try-scorer in European Cup history.

Ashton scored the first two tries of the match, while Regis Lespinas popped over two penalties to get Oyonnax on the board. However, a penalty from Owen Farrell and another try on the stroke of half-time gave Saracens a commanding 20-6 lead.

The second half became a blow-out as the hosts went on the rampage. Sarries, who controlled the game territorially, wrapped up the bonus point three minutes after the restart, when eighthman Samuela Vunisa powered over for his second effort from the back of a driving maul.

Oyonnax did offer some resistance despite the onslaught, scoring a converted try, but not before conceding four more tries.

Elsewhere, Wasps avenged their last-gasp 25-23 loss to Bath last week by winning the return fixture 36-10 at the Rec.

The hosts only managed a converted try and a penalty, while Wasps provided the fans full value for their money. Flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth top-scored with 23 points via a try, three conversions and four penalties and was well supported by fellow backs Elliot Daly, who contributed a try and a drop goal, and Alapati Leiua, who scuttled in for a try.

At the RDS Arena, visiting Toulon ground out a 20-16 win against Leinster, who slumped to a fourth successive defeat in the competition. Trailing 16-5 at half-time, the defending champions mounted an excellent comeback in the second stanza to win the game.

Former Bok flank Juan Smith cantered in for Toulon’s opening five-pointer, before a penalty try, another score by hooker Anthony Etrillard and a Tom Taylor penalty put them in front. With the game well poised at 20-16 towards the closing stages, Leinster exerted a lot of pressure on the opposition’s defence, but poor handling denied them a dramatic finish as Toulon held on to clinch the points on offer.

Meanwhile, Morné Steyn returned to action with five out of six conversion attempts in Stade Français' 40-14 defeat of Treviso in Paris.

The hosts led 21-0 at the halfway mark courtesy of three converted tries and by the 50th minute they had secured the bonus point. Treviso showed good character to get two consolation tries, but Stade added two more tries to complete the romp.

Bordeaux beat the Ospreys 33-27 in an engrossing encounter in France.

After Bordeaux raced out to a 25-10 lead, the Welsh team clawed their way back to within five points through tries by Eli Walker, Dan Biggar and Alun-Wyn Jones. But Bordeaux managed to score another converted try and knocked over a penalty, before clinging on to the lead with solid defence.

In the only game on Friday, Racing drew 9-9 with the Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens, with pivots Dan Carter and Stephen Myler each kicking three penalties.

Saracens (55) – Tries:  Chris Ashton (3), Samuela Vunisa (2), Alex Goode, Mike Ellery, Jamie George. Conversions: Owen Farrell (4), Charlie Hodgson (2). Penalty: Farrell.
Oyonnax (13) – Try: Fetu'u Vainikolo. Conversion: Rory Clegg. Penalties: Regis Lespinas (2).

Bath (10) – Try: Semesa Rokoduguni. Conversion: George Ford. Penalty: Ford.
Wasps (36) – Tries: Jimmy Gopperth, Elliot Daly, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Gopperth (3). Penalties: Gopperth (4). Drop goal: Daly.

Leinster (16) – Try: Penalty try. Conversion: Johnny Sexton. Penalties: Sexton (3).
Toulon (20) – Tries: Juan Smith, penalty try, Anthony Eltrillard. Conversion: Giteau. Penalty: Tom Taylor.

Stade Français (40) – Tries: Penalty try, Hugo Bonneval, Josaia Raisuqe (2), Geoffrey Doumayrou, Zurabi Zhvania. Conversions: Morné Steyn (5).
Treviso (14) – Tries: Alberto Sgarbi, Davide Giazzon. Conversions: Jayden Hayward, James Ambrosini.

Bordeaux (33) – Tries: Julien Rey, Berend Botha, Sofiane Guitoune, Yann Lesgourgues. Conversions: Pierre Bernard (2). Conversions: Bernard (2). Penalties: Bernard (2), Baptiste Serin.
Ospreys (27) – Tries: Justin Tipuric, Eli Walker, Dan Biggar, Alun-Wyn Jones. Conversions: Biggar (2). Penalty: Biggar.

Northampton Saints (9) – Penalties: Stephen Myler (3).
Racing (9) – Penalties: Dan Carter (3).

Photo: Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

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Mariette Adams