Northampton 15-3 Bourgoin, European Challenge Cup Final, May 22
Mallinder heaps praise on Hartley
May 22, 2009
Northampton's Dylan Hartley and Tom Smith celebrate with the European Challenge Cup trophy © Getty Images
Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder praised the restraint shown by Dylan Hartley in their 15-3 Challenge Cup final victory over Bourgoin.
The England hooker was targeted by the French side in a tempestuous contest at Twickenham Stoop that saw substitute Thomas Genevois sent off for punching Courtney Lawes.
Lawes, the imposing 20-year-old substitute lock, took Genevois' cheap shot and then remained standing as he was set upon by a mob of Bourgoin players. Hartley has earned a feisty reputation but Mallinder was delighted with the way he kept his cool in the face of some intense provocation.
"Dylan was good today as he has been all season. Other teams do look at Dylan and he gets harshly treated," he said. "Other teams pick on him but he's learnt how to keep his composure and keep his head. He did well out there."
England Saxons fly-half Steve Myler landed all five penalties to secure only Saints' second piece of silverware and their first since winning the Heineken Cup in 2000. But the match will be remembered for the frequent skirmishes that also resulted in yellow cards for Neil Best and Morgan Parra, though several more could have been shown.
"There are a few battered and bruised players in the changing room but that doesn't matter so much when you've won something," said Mallinder. "We didn't have to wind them up. We knew they would be fiery so we talked about keeping our discipline and composure and that's what we did.
"Myler kicked the goals effectively. It's a physical game and we had to be physical. Sometimes there's a fine line to tread but we did that well tonight."
Bourgoin assistant coach Xavier Pemeja rounded on referee George Clancy, claiming the impressive Lawes should have been sent off for a late tackle on Parra who suffered a shoulder injury in the incident.
"The first scrum of the match, if that had been in France we would have won the penalty," he said. "I don't want to criticise the referee but he was lost. The first duty of the referee is to protect the security of the players but he forgot that.
"It was a clear late tackle on Parra who now has a serious injury. That should have been a red card."