Chris Ashton shows defensive improvements on first England start in four years

There was a neat touch of symmetry in how Chris Ashton, having not made a start for England in four years, made it against New Zealand, a side England had not faced in four years.

In a game that will go down in the history books as starting so sweetly yet finishing so bitterly for England, Ashton, who has always seemed to make a habit of grabbing the headlines – good and bad – played an early starring role with the first try.

Returned from his season of exile in Toulon, and having made just one appearance for new club Sale Sharks, where he scored a hat-trick against Connacht in the Challenge Cup, it was clear how Ashton relishes the big moments and was building up for his England recall.

The…