Elliot Daly starred for Saracens as he scored a hat-trick in their 48-28 win over Lyon in the Champions Cup at StoneX Stadium on Saturday.
Daly was joined by Alex Lozowski, Marco Riccioni, Andy Christie and Ben Earl as his team’s other try scorers while Alex Goode kicked 13 points.
Saracens, without the suspended Owen Farrell, were at their ruthless best and secured their try bonus point after just 24 minutes when Daly notched his third try of the evening – just eight minutes after his first.
By half-time the home side had scored six tries and led 38-14 thanks to further scores from Lozowski, Riccioni and Christie.
They could not quite match the same levels of intensity in the second half and, through an Ethan Dumortier double, Lyon secured their own bonus point to leave themselves with a small chance of qualification.
The French side appeared initially settled in a game they desperately needed to win in order to stand any chance of progressing to the knockout stages, but they quickly found themselves trailing when Lozowski picked out Fletcher Smith’s pass and sprinted away.
Just six minutes later and Daly scored the first of his tries for the evening, weaving inside and out before racing away and rounding a helpless Dumortier to give Saracens a 14-0 lead.
Tries three and four for Saracens came after 20 and 24 minutes respectively, with Daly finishing off a simple passing move for his second before a world-class finish in the same corner to seal his quickfire hat-trick.
Lyon had barely thrown a punch, but they did get themselves on the board through Josia Maraku’s well-taken try.
Saracens hit straight back though, with Italy prop Riccioni crossing for a fifth try before Christie scored a similar touchdown from close range to extend the lead to 31 points.
Dumortier ended the half with a try in the right corner for Lyon to give them a slim hope of getting back into the game, but Saracens’ dominance was there for all to see on the scoreboard.
Dumortier and Daly appeared to be in competition for which full-back could score the better try when breaking free and gathering his chip and chase to close the gap to 38-21 just three minutes into the second half.
Lyon had their tails up and after a moment of Fijian flair from Josua Tuisova with a wonderful offload out the back of the hand, Arno Botha secured Lyon’s bonus point and closed the gap to just 13 points with 24 minutes remaining.
The 2022 Challenge Cup winners kept coming but Saracens had an answer each time, with their defence ensuring victory was never really in doubt.
Finishing off yet another highly impressive European performance this season, Earl bundled over from the back of a driving maul to ensure Saracens could celebrate safe passage to the next stage.
Ospreys claim memorable win over Montpellier
Elsewhere, Ospreys completed a famous double over Montpellier as they picked up a 35-29 success that keeps alive their Champions Cup hopes.
The goal-kicking of full-back Cai Evans proved decisive as the Welsh region took a huge step towards qualifying for the knock-out stages.
Ospreys were outscored by five tries to four but Evans succeeded with three penalties and three conversions to leave Ospreys with 10 points in Pool B with a game at Leicester still to come.
Alex Cuthbert scored two tries for Ospreys, Justin Tipuric and Morgan Morris the others but Montpellier were unlucky losers on a great night for rugby.
Paul Willemse crossed twice for the French champions with Bastien Chalureau, Thomas Darmon and Cobus Reinach also on the scoresheet. Leo Coly and Anthony Bouthier each added a conversion.
A full-strength Montpellier made the quicker start but Louis Carbonel was unable to reward their efforts as he missed a 40-metre penalty.
Ospreys then suffered a major blow when their scrum-half Rhys Webb left the field after being shaken up by a thumping tackle.
The tackle exemplified the first quarter, which was an intensely physical affair with defences firmly on top, so it came as no surprise when it finished scoreless.
However, three minutes later came the first try when Cuthbert finished off a period of sustained pressure by forcing his way over.
Montpellier soon responded with a try of their own when skipper Willemse crashed over from close range. Carbonel was again off target though, this time with a straightforward conversion attempt.
The hosts extended their lead when Owen Williams was high tackled by Montpellier hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa, with Evans making no mistake with the resulting penalty.
Montpellier drew level when Willemse showed great strength to grab his second try. There was a hint of a double movement but the officials awarded the try. Coly took over the kicking duties but he too failed to slot over the conversion.
Evans then illustrated how it should be done by kicking his second penalty for Ospreys to give his side a 13-10 lead at the interval.
Three minutes after the restart, Evans succeeded with another three-pointer but Montpellier took the lead for the first time when Chalureau crossed after the home defence had been softened up by a series of powerful forward drives. Coly converted from in front of the posts.
The game was certainly competitive and in the balance but Ospreys produced the best move of the match to reclaim the lead, Cuthbert running strongly to finish it off for his second try.
Evans made it five successes from five attempts with a touchline conversion to give Ospreys a 23-17 advantage going into the final quarter.
Montpellier would not lie down and excellent handling skills created their bonus-point try for Darmon with their third kicker, Bouthier, knocking over the touchline conversion.
Ospreys brought on George North for his first appearance since picking up a facial injury against Leicester in mid-December and it was in time to his side regain the lead when Keelan Giles kicked ahead for the irrepressible Tipuric to win the race to touch down.
Replacement Reinach sneaked over for Montpellier’s fifth try to reward an excellent break from Carbonel and keep his side in contention, but Bouthier missed the extra points which would have put the visitors 31-30 ahead.
And the hosts secured victory when Morris scored the crucial bonus-point try with two minutes to go.
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The article Champions Cup: Elliot Daly hat-trick steers Saracens past Lyon while Ospreys claim memorable win over Montpellier appeared first on Planetrugby.com.