Northampton make short work of Ospreys on Dylan Hartley’s return

• Ospreys 9-20 Northampton
• Saints victory sets up must-win match with Racing Metro

Dylan Hartley’s return from his latest ban was, if not quite stress-free, gentler. The tussle between the two leaders of their respective leagues may have been typically physical and unyielding, but the overt hostility he could have expected from a Welsh crowd in the past as an English sinner was lost in the rows of empty seats.

If the 7,308 crowd had been squeezed into Ospreys’ old home at the Gnoll, there would have been an atmosphere to fuel the home side’s drive. A ground two-thirds empty could not bridge the divide between the Premiership champions and a region whose wage bill is significantly lower, although it is close to being in profit two years after losing nearly £2m.

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