SAINTS GO CLEAR AT THE TOP

Northampton went into the top of the Premiership table with a healthy point difference after beating Bath.

Two Shane Geraghty penalties and a Phil Dowson try gave Saints an 11-0 lead. Olly Barkley landed a penalty for Bath on the stroke of half-time but a quick-fire Chris Ashton double and a Geraghty penalty saw Saints pull away.

Joe Ansbro scored out wide to earn the hosts a four-try bonus point before Ben Williams’s late consolation for Bath.

ASHTON WANTS TO BE AN ENGLAND REGULAR

Northampton Saints’ Ashton says that he is aiming to be England regular. The 23-year-old was named Premiership Player of the Season last season and helped the Saints to second place, having spent most of the season as a fan in the England Rugby Hospitality Tickets.

“My main aim is to get the Saints where we want to be and where we were last year,” Ashton told BBC Northampton.

“Then in autumn my aim is to stay in the England set-up and get my name included in that team every week.”

Ashton was the Premiership’s top try scorer with 16 in 20 matches and his influential season led to a first call-up for England.

But he has played down his part in the Saints success as he prepares for the new campaign: “There’s a lot more people in our team for people to be worried about than me in our team.

“I’m just a winger stood on the outside waiting for a few passes,” added Ashton.

“Hopefully I can do the same again this year and hopefully they’ll be marking Ben Foden and not me.

“Last season we just fell short so I don’t see why we can’t go one better and improve on what we did.”