Chris Ashton rediscovered his scoring touch with a Twickenham hat-trick as England warmed up for their tour of South Africa with a comfortable 57-26 victory over the Barbarians.
Ashton, the joint-leading try-scorer at the World Cup, had drawn a blank in each of his last six Test matches but he roamed menacingly and touched down twice before the interval and once after.
Although this was not a capped international, a third hat-trick in England colours was a timely confidence boost for Ashton before next month’s three-Test series against the Springboks.
The tries were taken soberly too. There was no sign of the elaborate and controversial ‘Ash Splash’ dive he pledged to shelve as “the end of an era”.
England hooker Dylan Hartley accepted his own opportunity to make a fresh start, scoring a try and organising England’s forward effort effectively on his return from an eight-week biting ban.
Christian Wade capped a busy afternoon on his senior debut with a try and England’s win was rounded off by a try from Richard Wigglesworth and two by Jonathan Joseph.
England coach Stuart Lancaster still has issues to resolve before the Test series, not least over who should start at fly-half after a rusty performance from Owen Farrell.