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

• Clermont 24-7 Northampton
• Saints stay pointless in European Champions Cup Pool 2

The 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-start affair – which at times proved too much for the referee, Ben Whitehouse, who struggled to impose his authority from the start. It also had the England captain, Dylan Hartley, sent to the sin-bin for entering a ruck with a swinging arm in a match that deteriorated into skirmishes and brawls.

Hartley saw yellow for catching the prop Rabah Slimani, who was lying on the floor, with his right arm 10 months after being sent off for catching Sean O’Brien in the face with a swinging arm. That was a more overtly dangerous act, but in the current climate, when any action that either causes or risks an opponent suffering a head injury (Slimani was treated for a bloody nose) is considered punishable by suspension, the hooker faces a nervous wait to see whether the citing commissioner will take the matter further, a week before the England squad gathers to prepare for the autumn internationals.

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