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Category: Northampton

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s Premiership action

Harlequins’ sick list grows, Wasps’ Thomas Young looks to land of his father’s, Rob Baxter’s Exeter side pass ‘character test’ and Gloucester get one over BathJohn Kingston paused as he mulled over whether to put a precise figure on the list of unavail…

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Josh Bassett gets Wasps back to winning ways against Northampton

• Northampton 22-38 Wasps• Josh Bassett’s try gave Wasps a deserved winWasps, last season’s losing finalists, started the day closer to the bottom of the table than the top after four straight defeats, but as ever they were prepared to run from anywher…

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Dylan Hartley cleared for England but Joe Marler is banned for three weeks

• Northampton attack ‘unjustified’ citing of hooker• Nathan Hughes still waiting to hear result of his caseDylan Hartley is free to captain England in their autumn internationals after being cleared by an independent panel but Northampton have attacked…

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Dylan Hartley among three forwards cited on damaging weekend for England

• Joe Marler and Nathan Hughes will also face disciplinary panel• Incidents may cause disruption to Eddie Jones’ autumn plansEddie Jones’s plans for the autumn Tests are in danger of being severely disrupted after three of his strongest forwards were c…

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Benjamin Kayser defends Dylan Hartley from further punishment after sin-bin

• Northampton and England captain was shown yellow card for high arm • Clermont hooker: ‘We are just here to play hard and to keep on going’Benjamin Kayser, Dylan Hartley’s opposite number at Clermont Auvergne on Saturday, believes punishing the hooker…

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Dylan Hartley’s yellow card helps Northampton fall to defeat at Clermont

• Clermont 24-7 Northampton• Saints stay pointless in European Champions Cup Pool 2The Michelin men have been running on flat tyres this season and this was a missed opportunity for Northampton. There will be few boasts after this stuttering, stop-star…

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Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw joins growing autumn internationals injury list

• Scotland captain faces three months out with broken fibula• The half-back is expected to be fit for the start of the Six NationsGreig Laidlaw is the latest high-profile player from the home nations to be ruled out of the autumn internationals through…

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George North and Ben Te’o set to miss autumn internationals with injuries

• Wales winger and England midfielder the latest injury casualties• Ben Te’o awaiting verdict on whether he needs operation on ankle problemThe British & Irish Lions team-mates George North and Ben Te’o are both set to miss this autumn’s Test match…

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Holders Saracens condemn Northampton to eight-try annihilation

• Northampton 13- 57 Saracens• Saints’ misery compounded as George North is forced off with injuryEurope is supposed to be a different ball game from the English Premiership but for Northampton this was a disturbingly painful case of deja vu. In many w…

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‘Everything has to be earned,’ Dylan Hartley tells Saracens’ Jamie George

The England captain will take nothing for granted when he goes head to head with the Sarries hooker in Northampton’s Champions Cup openerGood is the word Dylan Hartley eventually settles on when asked how his right hand was after bruising kept him out …

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Saracens’ Jamie George ready to impose authority to impress Eddie Jones

Hooker, who took advice off a magician last week, admits he needs to work on his leadership qualities to nail a starting place in the England team

Jamie George started three Tests for the Lions in the summer, but the Saracens hooker looks destined to return to the bench for the start of England’s autumn international campaign against Argentina at Twickenham next month with Dylan Hartley standing in his way.

The pair will renew their rivalry on Sunday when Northampton face the holders Saracens in the European Champions Cup at Franklin’s Gardens and while the England head coach, Eddie Jones, will watch with interest, the prime reason he has favoured Hartley since taking charge at the end of 2015 is the leadership qualities of the Saints’ captain.

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England prop Kyle Sinckler handed seven-week ban for gouging

• Sinckler calls incident against Northampton ‘genuine mistake’
• Harlequins man set to miss all of England’s autumn internationals

The Harlequins prop Kyle Sinckler has been ruled out of England’s first two autumn internationals after receiving a seven-week ban for gouging Northampton’s Michael Paterson. Sinckler swiftly issued a statement, denying “intentionally gouging an opponent” and labelling the incident a “genuine mistake”.

The 24-year-old, who appeared in all three British & Irish Lions Tests against New Zealand over the summer, accepted the charge of making contact with Paterson’s eye last Saturday and will miss England’s autumn matches against Argentina and Australia. Sinckler is free to play again on 21 November, four days before England conclude their autumn fixtures against Samoa.

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend

Matt O’Connor’s Tigers are evolving fast, Bath’s fledglings offer hope for the country and Quins’ Kyle Sinckler is at the mercy of the law book

The Tigers are changing their stripes. A side which for years built its foundation on set-pieces, an all-enveloping back row, controlling half-backs and immovable defence has evolved into one that can thrive on less than 50% possession. The midfield partnership of George Ford and Matt Toomua allows Leicester to react quickly in broken play and, after all the upheaval of the last few seasons, continuity has been a theme this season. Five rounds into the Premiership the director of rugby, Matt O’Connor, has made just one change in his back line, and that was enforced when Manu Tuilagi was injured after the opening weekend. The wings Jonny May and Nick Malouf have scored seven of the 12 league tries between them, profiting from a broader range of passing, and both added to their tally against the champions in a match in which the home side spent two-thirds of the match in their own half and had just 38% of possession. Paul Rees

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Two dazzling tries from Rob Horne sees Northampton victorious at London Irish

• London Irish 25-40 Northampton
• Saints’ first-half onslaught opened up match-winning lead

Not exactly the homecoming London Irish were hoping for, rather a few home truths on a first Premiership match here for 16 months and the brutal reality of the arduous slog ahead. Chief among the lessons for the Exiles is the danger posed by a start as sluggish as theirs. They stirred themselves after the break but Irish were ultimately outclassed by Northampton, for whom the Australian centre Rob Horne registered his first two tries and caught the eye throughout.

The fact that the Saints were themselves ragged at times in the second half will not please Jim Mallinder, but his side’s recovery following their opening‑day embarrassment continues to impress with this a third win in a row since then. George North is finding some form, Luther Burrell too – although he limped off with a knee injury after the break – and Courtney Lawes does not seem capable of dropping his excellent standards at present.

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Northampton get their big guns firing to overpower lacklustre Bath

• Northampton 24-6 Bath
• Courtney Lawes, Dave Ribbans and George North on scoresheet

Two wins from three – and here a bonus point, to boot. What, Northampton must be thinking, is all the fuss about?

The jury waits. Such a summary glosses over the indignity of the one defeat – the humiliation, really – but consecutive wins over the two biggest names in English rugby is enough to be getting on with, should it be felt that rebuilding were required. “You remember what people say,” said Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “You read things, and it hurts. We needed a reaction last week and got it. This week we’ve shown we’re a difficult team to beat.”

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Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink off to a flyer as Northampton scuttle Doncaster

The Cobblers made Justin Edinburgh the first managerial casualty of the season and achieved lift-off of sorts under his replacement, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said before his first game in charge of Northampton he wanted his team to “do things with joy”. Scoring after 21 seconds was more like ecstasy. But shortly after his side had sewn up a 1-0 home win over Doncaster to lift themselves off the foot of League One mere joy could be measured in his voice. “It’s a while since I’ve been screaming,” he croaked.

Hasselbaink is used to flying starts. In his first managerial appointment in England he carried on Gary Rowett’s good work at Burton, keeping them top of League Two and leaving them top of League One to go to Loftus Road. Since he left QPR in mid-table in November his voice has been recovering. Now it is the Cobblers who need repair.

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Tom Collins shows his promise as Northampton hit back against Leicester

• Northampton 24-11 Leicester
• Luther Burrell and Dylan Hartley join Collins on the scoresheet

We should not really be surprised, but anyone who knew only the Northampton that were torn limb from limb at Twickenham the weekend before would have been. The Saints are now quite used to bouncing back from harrowing experiences such as that, and this they duly did in front of their faithful, against their bitterest. The full catharsis of a bonus-point fourth try eluded them but this was a comprehensive dismantling of Leicester, their first win over the Tigers in eight attempts.

“We had to respond like that,” said Jim Mallinder, Northampton’s director of rugby. “There’s no other way. It’s a reminder for the rest of the season. In this game you’ve got to get that intensity right. Last week we didn’t really do it. This week you could tell from the first minute that we were up for it.”

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Christian Day insists plan to prolong season threatens player welfare | Robert Kitson

Saints lock and chairman of Professional Rugby Players’ Association criticises lack of consultation regarding an extended season and says players will not agree to model put forward by Premiership Rugby

A frame of snooker could be contested on the beautifully mown baize at Franklin’s Gardens but life is less smooth for its resident professional rugby players. Last weekend Northampton were humiliated by Saracens, next up is a ferocious must-win derby against Leicester. The mental and physical demands are already multiplying and it is not yet mid-September.

Imagine operating in this relentless environment right from early September until the end of June with pre-season on top, as Premiership Rugby continues to insist will be the norm from the 2019-20 season. Even in a big-match week players are anxiously scanning the horizon, praying for some sign of sanity. “It starts to get messy when players have to step in and say: ‘This isn’t right,” warns the Saints’ long-serving lock Christian Day. As the chairman of the Professional Rugby Players’ Association, Day is receiving similar feedback from worried pros up and down the country.

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Jim Mallinder still dreaming despite Northampton’s opening-day drubbing

• Nine-try rout by Saracens led to sleepless nights, says director of rugby
• Saints ring changes for Saturday’s home derby against Leicester

Northampton’s director of rugby, Jim Mallinder, believes his squad can still win the Premiership but has confessed to enduring sleepless nights as he seeks to resurrect Saints as genuine title challengers. He also acknowledges his side cannot afford another limp display against their local rivals Leicesteron Saturday having shipped nine tries in their opener against Saracens.

Under Mallinder, Saints were crowned champions in 2014 but finished seventh last season, losing four of their last five league games, and were hammered 55-24 by Saracens at Twickenham last weekend. Supporters are growing impatient and another defeat to the Tigers, who lost at home to Bath on the opening weekend, would scarcely improve the mood.

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Manu Tuilagi to undergo knee surgery in further blow to England prospects

• Leicester centre will be out for at least a month after damaging ligaments
• Dan Biggar agrees to join Northampton from Ospreys in 2018

Manu Tuilagi’s prospects of an England comeback this autumn have suffered another blow after it emerged he is set to undergo knee surgery this week. It is understood the Leicester centre tore knee ligaments in the defeat by Bath on Sunday and needs a minor operation which will sideline him for at least the next month.

Tuilagi’s career has been increasingly dogged by injury, with a more serious knee injury in January forcing him to spend seven months out. Despite scoring a try on his return against Bath, he is now facing a further three or four weeks out, leaving him precious little time to impress England’s head coach Eddie Jones before this autumn’s internationals.

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