Dylan Hartley was red carded just six minutes after coming on as Northampton were comfortably beaten 37-10 by Leinster in the Champions Cup on Friday.
Gary Ringrose got Leinster off to a perfect start, scoring after two minutes. This was the only try of the first-half but Ahsee Tuala scored for Saints just after the break to tie things up.
Sean O’Brien scored a try for the visitors 10 minutes later but the match swung on an incident that occurred straight after. England captain Hartley was sent off for swinging an arm at O’Brien, this incident coming under the gaze of England head-coach Eddie Jones.
After this, tries from Rory O’Loughlin, Jamison Gibson-Park and Isa Nacewa secured an emphatic bonus-point win for the three-time winners. The win sees Leinster extend their lead atop Pool 4 to six points.
It took just two minutes for Leinster to score the first try of the match. A great break by Rob Kearney opened up the Saints defence, allowing Ringrose to collect the ball and score under the posts. Nacewa converted to establish an early seven-point lead.
Nacewa notched another penalty for the visitors after 11 minutes played following an infringement at scrum-time by the Leinster defence. Stephen Myler kicked a penalty in response for the hosts after 20 minutes to make the score 3-10.
The first-half passed without any further scores but five minutes after the interval, Northampton scored their first try. JJ Hanrahan broke through the Leinster defence before spreading the ball out wide magnificently for Tuala to touch down. Myler continued his flawless kicking form by notching over the conversion from out wide to draw Saints level at 10-10.
Nacewa nudged Leinster back into the lead with a successful penalty kick from the 10-metre line after 49 minutes.
The PRO12 high-flyers extended their lead after 55 minutes, a big effort from the visiting pack forced a try. O’Brien was the man with the finishing touch and Nacewa successfully added the extras to establish a 10-point lead.
England captain Hartley had not started the match but made his bow as a 52nd minute substitute. This appearance did not last long as he was sent off for a flailing arm six minutes later, connecting with the head of try-scorer O’Brien.
— BT Sport Rugby (@btsportrugby) 9 December 2016
The Irish side scored their third try after 68 minutes with European debutants Ross Byrne and O’Loughlin combined brilliantly. The former’s inch-perfect cross-field kick was caught above the head of Ben Foden before the try, this made the score 10-25.
Gibson-Park secured the bonus point for the away side in the 76th minute, dancing through the tiring Northampton defence to touch down. The extras were added by Nacewa once more.
Saints closed out the match with just 13 men, as George Pisi was sin-binned for a high tackle. Nacewa took advantage, completing the rout with a simple touch-down in the 79th minute.
Yellow Card: G Pisi
Red Card: Hartley
Tries: Ringrose, O’Brien, O’Loughlin, Gibson-Park, Nacewa
Cons: Nacewa 3
Pens: Nacewa 2
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 Jamie Elliot, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Tom Wood (c), 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Paul Hill, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Teimana Harrison, 21 Tom Kessel, 22 George Pisi, 23 Ahsee Tuala
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Rory O’Loughlin
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Adrien Descottes (France), Sebastian Cloute (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)