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Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley still expecting Heineken Cup challenge despite Castres defeat

Last updated: 20th October 2012  

Northampton skipper Dylan Hartley still expecting Heineken Cup challenge despite Castres defeat

Dylan Hartley: Still backing Northampton in Heineken Cup

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Northampton captain Dylan Hartley insisted his side were "not out of it" after losing 21-16 against a rampant Castres side in the Heineken Cup.

The Saints came into the game on the back of a 24-15 win against Glasgow Warriors at Franklin's Gardens, but having only had five days to prepare after the Glasgow game, Northampton were well beaten this evening.

"We're not out of it," he said. "We've got Ulster next at our place, and we'll know where we are in terms of qualification a lot better after that one. There is still a long way to go in the competition.

"We knew that if we were to be considered contenders for the competition, we need to win games at home against the likes of Ulster and that's where our focus now turns to."

Although the Saints did not do enough for the win, a late rally saw them gain a bonus point - something which the visitors had had talked about during the interval.

"We said at half-time in the Glasgow game that we would target the bonus point, and it was the same again tonight," Hartley said. "We were pleased to come away with a bonus point. Our defence was pretty good but we just didn't do the basics particularly well tonight."

Northampton coach Jim Mallinder was proud of his team's efforts but echoed Hartley's comments in that simple errors cost his side.

"We came up against a good side tonight on their own patch and knew it would be tough, just like it was last season," he said. "We fought well, but basic mistakes ultimately cost us the game.

"We must now look forward to Ulster, which will again be another tough game, but we've been in good form this season, and we know we can get a result against them at our place.

"We've got important games in the league before that, and our immediate attention will be on those matches."

Forthcoming European Rugby Champions Cup Fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday 17th October
European Rugby Champions Cup
19:45Harlequins vs Castres
Saturday 18th October
13:00Sale vs Munster
15:15Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne
19:45Leicester vs Ulster
15:15Glasgow vs Bath
17:15Racing Metro 92 vs Northampton
Sunday 19th October
17:15Leinster vs Wasps
15:15Toulon vs Scarlets
13:00Toulouse vs Montpellier
13:00Ospreys vs Benetton Treviso
Friday 24th October
19:45Munster vs Saracens
Saturday 25th October
13:00Ulster vs Toulon
19:45Scarlets vs Leicester
15:15Bath vs Toulouse
17:15Montpellier vs Glasgow
17:15Northampton vs Ospreys
Sunday 26th October
13:00Clermont Auvergne vs Sale
15:00Castres vs Leinster
17:15Wasps vs Harlequins
17:15Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92
Saturday 6th December
TBCMunster vs Clermont Auvergne
TBCSale vs Saracens
TBCCastres vs Wasps
TBCHarlequins vs Leinster
TBCUlster vs Scarlets

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Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards

Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com