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Page last updated at 21:38 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 22:38 UK

Chris Ashton named Premiership player of season

Chris Ashton
Ashton's union career has really taken off this season

Northampton and England winger Chris Ashton has been named as the Premiership's player of the season.

The 23-year-old scored 16 tries in 20 matches, including hat-tricks against Gloucester and Newcastle, and won his first England cap as a result.

Ashton, who has enjoyed a rapid rise since switching codes from rugby league in 2007, ended the season as the Premiership's top try-scorer.

Leicester scrum-half Ben Youngs, 20, won the Discovery of the Season award.

Youngs beat Saracens flanker Any Saull into second place after a hugely impressive campaign for the league leaders, with his rapid breaks and smooth service earning him a place on England's summer tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Ashton's haul of tries is the highest in the English top flight for more than a decade and is second only to Dominic Chapman, who scored 17 for Richmond in the 1997-98 season.

Northampton team-mate Soane Tonga'uiha finished in second place in the player of the season voting.

The powerful Tongan prop participated in all 23 of Saints' Premiership matches, scoring three tries and crossing for another in the LV Cup final at Sixways.

Saracens captain Ernst Joubert finished in third place while Saracens hooker Schalk Brits and Northampton back row Phil Dowson were also nominated.

Leeds' Andy Key, who helped keep the newly promoted club up, was voted as the league's top director of rugby.

Guinness Premiership awards in full:

Guinness Premiership Player of the Season:
Winner: Chris Ashton, Northampton.
Second: Soane Tonga'uiha, Northampton.
Third: Ernst Joubert, Saracens.

Land Rover Discovery of the Season: Ben Youngs, Leicester.

QBE Director of Rugby of the Season: Andy Key, Leeds Carnegie.

Try of the Season: Nick Abendanon, Bath v Leeds, 8th May 2010.

MBNA Community Player of the Season: Olly Barkley.

Gatorade Performance of the Season: Jordan Crane, Leicester.

Top try scorer: Chris Ashton, Northampton Saints - 16.

Gilbert Golden Boot: Jimmy Gopperth, Newcastle Falcons, 219 points.

Sky Sports Dream Team: A Goode (Saracens); C Ashton (Northampton) S Rabeni (Leeds), B Barritt (Saracens), S Hamilton (Leicester); T Flood (Leicester), B Youngs (Leicester); S Tonga'uiha (Northampton), S Brits (Saracens), C Hayman (Newcastle), M Wentzel, (Leeds), J Kruger Northampton), P Dowson (Northampton, capt), H Fourie (Leeds), E Joubert (Saracens).

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see also
Tonga'uiha wins two Saints awards
18 May 10 |  Northampton
Mallinder pays tribute to Ashton
08 May 10 |  Northampton
England pick nine untried players
11 May 10 |  English
England reward Ashton persistence
18 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
Ashton & Hape earn England calls
13 Jan 10 |  English
Ashton signs new Northampton deal
14 Jan 10 |  Northampton
Ashton boosted by England call-up
16 Nov 09 |  Northampton

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