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Chris Ashton biting allegation sours another Saracens win

Published 17/09/2016

Saracens' Chris Ashton faces a nervous week
Saracens' Chris Ashton faces a nervous week

Saracens' England international wing Chris Ashton is at the centre of an alleged biting controversy following the Aviva Premiership champions' punishing 27-12 victory over Northampton at Allianz Park.

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder confirmed after the game that Saints prop Alex Waller said he had been bitten on the hand.

It followed a first-half incident when Ashton's mouth appeared to make contact with Waller's hand during a tangle on the floor.

"He (Waller) just repeated what he said to the referee (Greg Garner), in that he had been bitten on the hand," Mallinder said.

Also asked about it during his post-match press conference, Saracens rugby director Mark McCall added: "I have heard the accusation.

"I haven't seen the incident. These things will run its (their) course. I suppose there is a good chance that Chris will be cited as a result, so we will see what happens."

Ashton received a 10-week ban last season for making contact with the eye area of Ulster back Luke Marshall during a European Champions Cup game, although he protested his innocence throughout.

If he is cited for biting - and the charge is proved - he could be looking at another long lay-off.

Garner took no action at the time, and Ashton's fate now rests with match citing commissioner Mike Rafter.

The 29-year-old former Northampton star, who has scored 19 tries in 39 appearances for England, is currently not part of England head coach Eddie Jones' plans.

Waller, meanwhile, was sin-binned in the second period for a dangerous tackle on Saracens hooker Jamie George, with Saracens scoring 12 unanswered points during his absence as the game turned on its head.

Waller could be in trouble not only for the tackle, but also following a resulting skirmish when his head made contact with George's face.

Mallinder said: "We had the ball, Alex got charged into and he took it too far.

"They (Saracens) are tough enough to beat when you have got 15 men, but when you are down to 14 for 20 minutes (Sam Dickinson was sin-binned later in the game), you are really up against it.

"I thought we did pretty well for 55 minutes, or so. We put them under pressure, and we defended with the passion and intensity that we needed to.

"They were spilling ball and we were beginning to get into them, and then a moment of madness, really, from Alex Waller started our downfall."

England international George scored a try midway through the second period, which was followed by a penalty try, although Saracens were nowhere near as dominant as they had been during opening Premiership victories over Worcester and Exeter, while fly-half Alex Lozowski added five penalties and a conversion,while Stephen Myler kicked four penalties for Northampton

McCall said: "We were second-best in the first half. We allowed some things to get under our skin a little bit. Their line speed was tremendous, and we couldn't get any quick ball.

"We weren't quite ourselves in the first half, but I thought in the second half we did a phenomenal job. The most encouraging thing today was that we found a way to win while not being at our best."

Saints, meanwhile, saw their England international centre Luther Burrell leave the pitch in groggy fashion following a second-half tackle on Saracens skipper Brad Barritt, with Burrell leaving Allianz Park in an ambulance.

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