"I think the sin-bin is a great idea," said David Egerton, one of Bristol's two caretaker coaches, before adding after a pause, "for the other side." And he was right. While the captain, David Corkery, and Jim Brownrigg cooled their heels, Saints ran in two tries.
The referee, Brian Campsall, while denying that there had been an edict from Twickenham exhorting referees to flourish the white card more often, said. "There had been a string of offences close to the Bristol line and I warned Corkery unofficially that they were getting close to the sin- bin.
"People were diving over the top or hanging on to the ball and generally trying to slow the game down. When they killed the ball again I gave Corkery an official warning that the next guy who deliberately killed the ball or slowed the game down would go off."
When Corkery was adjudged offside shortly afterwards he became the first sinner of the match and only the third of the season since the scheme was introduced last November. A further official warning had to be issued to the stand-in captain, Phil Adams, but amazingly Bristol transgressed again, this time it was No 8 Brownrigg.
"I'm the first to hold my hands up when I've done something," Corkery said. "But I really felt that I had not done anything."
While having two men off at the same time certainly opened up gaps in Bristol's fortifications, in truth they had already been undermined by the first two of Harvey Thorneycroft's three tries and Northampton's collective superiority - exemplified by hooker Chris Johnson - would have told with or without the bin.
Northampton: Tries Thorneycroft 3, Chandler, Allen, Johnson; Conversion Grayson; Penalty Grayson. Bristol: Tries Baber, Yapp; Conversion Lewsey.
Northampton: I Hunter (G Townsend, 76); J Sleightholme, A Northey, M Allen, H Thorneycroft; P Grayson, M Dawson; G Pagel, C Johnson, M Stewart (M Volland, 54), J Phillips (S Foale, 76), J Chandler (D Mackinnon, 72), T Rodber (capt), G Seely, B Pountney.
Bristol: S Jones; K Chesney, S Martin, K Maggs, D Yapp; J Lewsey (M Armstrong, 65), G Baber; A Poole (J Wring, 53), F Landreau, K Fullman, P Adams, C Eagle (T Devergie, 41), D Corkery (capt), J Brownrigg, E Rollitt.
Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).Reuse content