Skipper Hartley says big-match heartache is driving Saints to glory

BIG-MATCH MOMENT - Dylan Hartley celebrates scoring his try in Friday night's win over Harlequins (Picture: Linda Dawson)
BIG-MATCH MOMENT - Dylan Hartley celebrates scoring his try in Friday night's win over Harlequins (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Dylan Hartley says the heartache of losing big games in recent seasons is driving Saints on.

Hartley was captain in the Heineken Cup and Aviva Premiership final defeats.

Saints lost 33-22 to Leinster in the European showpiece in 2011 and suffered a 37-17 defeat to Leicester in the east midlands affair at Twickenham last May.

Those were painful missed chances for Northampton, but they have bottled up that anguish and used it as inspiration.

Jim Mallinder’s men have won 14 of their 18 games in all competitions this season, sitting second in their Heineken Cup pool, second in the Aviva Premiership and top of their LV= Cup group.

And Hartley puts that good form down to lessons learned in years gone by.

“All the experience comes with the heartache of losing big games and lessons there,” said the skipper, who has led Saints to big wins against the likes of Leinster, Bath and Harlequins this season.

“Before the season’s finished we’re going to lose some more games, no doubt. It’s how we react, how we learn from those and put it to better use to come back and try to use some.”

While Hartley is club captain, Saints also possess a number of other players capable of leading the side.

Tom Wood, Lee Dickson and Phil Dowson are among those to have illustrated their ability as captain, making life easier for the regular incumbent.

“After the game I go out there and pull the lads in for a huddle,” said Hartley.

“I talk enough, I don’t need to talk any more and it’s nice when people step up and speak and say their bit.

“We’ve got a team full of leaders and it’s good to be part of.”