Northampton boss Jim Mallinder fumes at Dylan Hartley's red
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Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder admitted his disappointment with Dylan Hartley letting his team-mates down by getting sent off at a pivotal stage of last night's defeat to Leinster.
The loss leaves the English side almost certainly out of the Champions Cup and the England captain, who had appeared to put his dismal track record behind him since assuming that role, came at Seán O'Brien with a swinging arm that left the Ireland international needing a head injury assessment.
Referee Jerome Garces had no hesitation reaching for a red card and Mallinder had no complaints.
"It's a strike to the head, we've seen enough of them over the last few weeks. I think it was a red card," he said. "I wouldn't say it cost us the game, we started badly and came back into the game pretty well. We had just conceded a try , we were already a few points down.
Shameful thuggery from Dylan Hartley #leopard— Emma Reynolds (@tafflove) December 9, 2016
And there's the dylan hartley we all know back to his true self— Tracy Watson (@TracyPl8) December 9, 2016
It blew my mind that England made Dylan Hartley captain. Sadly, he's just a tramp. How many months suspensions is that now? #NORvLEI— Chris Traynor (@PerformTraynor) December 9, 2016
Dylan Hartley is after given Rory best a massive boost towards landing the Lions captaincy. Good lad Hartley #NORvLEI— Rory's Stories (@RorysStories) December 9, 2016
"But when you go down to 14 men against such a quality side then you're always going to be up against it.
"Certainly, he's been playing really well and leading England by example, so it was disappointing that on returning from England after doing such a job that that happens.
"I'm disappointed for the team, when you play a team like Leinster you need 15 players on the field."
Leinster will assess the injury suffered by O'Brien and the ankle problems that forced Joey Carbery and Rob Kearney off as they prepare for the return fixture at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
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Isa Nacewa may be pressed into service at No 10 if Carbery fails to make it, given Johnny Sexton and Cathal Marsh are currently out. However, Leo Cullen was generally pleased with a five-try win that leaves Leinster in control of Pool 4.
"The red card knocked the stuffing out of them," he said. "It's amazing how games can swing on these margins, but we capitalised on them chasing the game and defensively we looked solid."