Mallinder says referee Barnes ended game prematurely

George North shows his dismay after Saints' dramatic defeat to Leicester (pictures: Linda Dawson)

George North shows his dismay after Saints' dramatic defeat to Leicester (pictures: Linda Dawson)

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Jim Mallinder admitted his disappointment with Wayne Barnes, feeling the referee ended Saints’ defeat to Leicester prematurely.

Barnes called time with Northampton, who were beaten 22-16, ready to take a lineout five metres from the Leicester line, with the away side down to 13 men.

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140329-181229006

Pictures by Linda Dawson NNL-140329-181229006

The Gloucestershire official deemed the clock to be dead after Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi had carried the ball out of play.

But Mallinder felt there was enough time left for his team to take the lineout and followed Barnes down the tunnel after initially being restrained by Phil Dowson.

And the Saints director of rugby said: “Wayne just told me afterwards that he was told the game was over. I don’t quite know who told him that. He’s in charge.

“We were disappointed with that. There was time on the clock.

“Their physio got his hands on the ball and Ben Foden managed to get the ball off him and there was still time on the clock.

“We were pretty disappointed, 15 against 13, not to have a lineout close to their line.”

Saints were eventually made to pay for missed kicks, wasting four opportunities from the tee, while Leicester were flawless in that department.

Owen Williams landed 17 points, while opposite number Will Hooley, who had a strong game in open play, was unable to make the most of his chances.

“We were not quite accurate enough,” said Mallinder.

“We got back into the game in the second half, put them under pressure but after scoring we went back into our half and gave them easy penalties.

“A lot of credit to their young lad (Williams) for kicking everything on the day. It’s very disappointing.

“On the day, Williams came out on top (in the battle of the kickers). I don’t think you can hide from that fact.

“Hooley was magnificent in defence, he put in some brilliant tackles, but his goalkicking wasn’t quite as good as Williams, who was excellent.

“It’s a big ask for a young lad, but that will be a massive learning experience for a young lad, who will only get better.”