Northampton pack steamrollers Cardiff

Northampton 23 Cardiff Blues 15

There was a very amusing breakdown in personal relations at Franklin's Gardens as the clock ticked past the 80-minute mark, and with any luck, the couple involved will still be throwing crockery at each other when their public hostilities resume in six days' time. At a scrum close to the Cardiff line, Northampton's uber-pack drove forward so violently that the Welshmen crumpled beneath them. Led from the front by Dylan Hartley, who had been in bristling mood all night, the Midlanders stayed on their feet and kept marching, trampling their victims into the earth. Down in the West Country, it is known as the "do si do" routine.

Hartley and his opposite number, Gareth Williams, had a major falling-out as a consequence, and as they began their inevitable journey towards the sin bin, the Northampton captain started telling Williams what he thought of him. He was still telling him when they reached their destination, at which point the Welshman, heartily sick of his role as henpecked husband, turned to stare this nagging housewife of an England hooker in the eye – or rather, being one of the professional game's more vertically challenged front-rowers, in the chest – and was about to settle matters once and for all when back-room staff from both clubs moved in as peace-makers. When the two meet again this coming Sunday it will be in the middle of the field instead of at the edge, and the neighbours may struggle to get there quickly enough.

Hookers have long been a mystery to students of behavioural psychology, and until scientists get their hands on a representative sample of the species, possibly in the confines of Broadmoor, they will remain so. But this incident told us something about Northampton in their new, Euan Murray-less state: namely, that they can absorb the loss of one of the most potent tight-head scrummagers in world rugby without missing a beat. Their set-piece, led by Soane Tonga'uiha and Brian Mujati with the powerful youngster Tom Mercey in reserve, may not win the Heineken Cup, but it should take them deep into the knock-out stages.

Murray's departure had been announced, suddenly and abruptly, on the eve of this game, and after it there was an explanation of sorts. Jim Mallinder, the director of rugby at Franklin's Gardens, divulged that a combination of Mujati's form and moveable kick-off times had brought matters to a head. "Euan wasn't making the team, and with the television people increasing the number of Sunday matches, there was an additional issue," he commented, referring to the devout Murray's refusal to play on the Sabbath.

So it seems ESPN, the principal broadcasters of English club rugby, are making life impossible for Christians, as well as making it a misery for supporters. Last week, the Bath chief executive, Nick Blofeld, wrote an open online letter to fans of the club apologising for the constant alterations to the match schedule. "Sadly," he admitted, "our current business model does make us quite reliant on TV revenue as a key income stream." If the broadacasters' ears are not burning by now, they must be frozen solid.

Northampton's message to the Blues was of the loud and clear variety, and went along the lines of: "You can run with the ball, but you can't hide from our forwards." The Welshmen played with admirable wit and invention when they were given the chance to play at all, but the moment they found themselves being put through the wringer in their own 22 at the end of the first quarter – there were seven scrums in all, each more horrible than the last – they knew in their heart of hearts that they would not escape without a conceding a minimum of five points.

The try duly fell to Paul Diggin in the left corner and was handsomely converted by Stephen Myler, and even though the visitors reached the interval 12-10 up, Paul Tito's fumble from the restart resulted in a run-in for Chris Ashton that amounted to a killer blow. Myler added the extras again before hitting the spot with a couple of penalties, and while Dan Parks replied in kind with a fifth successful kick, the Welshmen returned home with nothing.

"We knew the scrum would be a challenge for us," admitted David Young, the Blues coach, whose own scrummaging prowess earned him Test caps for the British and Irish Lions. "When it's like that, you know every 50-50 decision will go against you. I'm not blaming the referee: he's not the one who has to sort it. We have to sort it ourselves."

Agreed. And what is more, they have to do their sorting quickly.

Scorers: Northampton: Tries Diggin, Ashton. Conversions Myler 2. Penalties Myler 3. Cardiff Blues: Penalties Parks 5.

Northampton B Foden; C Ashton, J Clarke, J Downey, P Diggin; S Myler, R Powell (L Dickson 66); S Tonga'uiha (R Dreyer 85), D Hartley (capt), B Mujati (T Mercey 79), C Lawes, C Day, P Dowson (C Clark 69), T Wood (B Sharman 81), R Wilson.

Cardiff Blues C Czekaj; R Mustoe (J Yapp 44-50, R Williams 82), C Laulala, T Shanklin, T James; D Parks, R Rees; G Jenkins, G Williams, T Filise, B Davies, P Tito (capt, D Paterson 56), M Molitika, M Williams (S Warburton 56), X Rush.

Referee R Poite (France).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home