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Rugby union: talking points from the Premiership’s weekend action

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Dylan Hartley makes an impact, Brad Shields suffers injury blow and George Smith’s red card proves costly for Bristol

George Smith’s red card against Saracens has split opinion. Bristol’s Pat Lamis among those to think a yellow card would have sufficed and many observers have suggested it was on the harsh side. What counted against Smith, however, is that it was the kind of tackle that has been identified by the Rugby Football Union in its research as the most likely to cause head injuries, leading to the “armpit tackle” trial in the Championship Cup. There can also be no denying it was the decisive moment in the match – the scores were level at 18-18 until that point. Billy Vunipola was among the subsequent try‑scorers and here’s hoping for a long spell injury free after a torrid 18 months. Gerard Meagher

Related: Duncan Weir: ‘An opponent’s size doesn’t bother me. I love tackling’

Gallagher Premiership Team of the weekend

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