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Chris Ashton breaks Premiership try scoring record in big Leicester win

Chris Ashton is now the Premiership’s all-time record try scorer (Mike Egerton/PA).
Chris Ashton is now the Premiership’s all-time record try scorer (Mike Egerton/PA).

Chris Ashton ran in a hat-trick to become the Gallagher Premiership’s record try scorer as leaders Leicester handsomely beat Bristol 56-26 at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

The former England winger surpassed Tom Varndell as the top flight’s most prolific marksman and all three of his scores came inside the first 27 minutes to set up what was a mauling.

Leicester scored eight tries in total on what was a comfortable afternoon where they secured a home semi-final in the play-offs, ahead of next week’s mouth-watering Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster.

Just before kick-off, there was a standing ovation for former England hooker Tom Youngs, who had announced his retirement earlier in the week, when he was presented on the pitch.

Once the action got under way, it took just four minutes for Ashton’s moment of history – and 93rd Premiership try – when he got on the end of Matias Moroni’s kick to score in the right-hand corner.

George Ford then took the score to 8-0 with a penalty before Bristol hauled themselves back into the contest when Piers O’Conor’s pass put Jack Bates through a gap and he showed Ford a clean pair of heels to score.

Callum Sheedy’s conversion reduced the deficit to one point, but Ashton extended the Tigers’ lead, and his own record, with his second try after 22 minutes.

Ellis Genge powered through a tackle before passing to Ford, who moved the ball on for Freddie Steward and it was his pass who sent Ashton clear down the left.

The 35-year-old then completed his hat-trick when a Leicester break from their own 22 led to Ben Youngs throwing the final pass to put Ashton through to score from halfway.

Chris Ashton
Chris Ashton scored all three of his tries inside the opening 30 minutes (Mike Egerton/PA)

Toby Fricker pulled a try back for Bristol with an easy finish off Harry Randall’s pass, but Leicester’s try bonus point was soon in the bag when Ben Youngs nipped in down the left-hand corner.

That gave the hosts a 27-12 lead at half-time, and they were handed a fifth try within two minutes of the restart when Tiff Eden’s kick was charged down by Tommy Reffell, giving Moroni an easy run-in.

Ford then twisted the knife with his second penalty of the afternoon and the fly-half’s last contribution before being replaced by Freddie Burns was a pass that led to Steward weaving his way through to score under the posts.

Leicester’s half-century was brought up after 67 minutes when Jasper Wiese was able to force his way over before Bristol’s Harry Thacker ran in against his old club.

The late flurry of scores continued, as Tigers’ Harry Potter made his way through some weary defence before some neat handling led to Chris Vui grabbing a bonus-point try for the visitors.