MATCH REPORT | Saracens Men 48-28 Lyon
Qualification for the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup was secured as Saracens Men lit up StoneX Stadium with a scintillating 48-28 victory over Lyon.
On a night when StoneX hosted a light show, the action continued on the pitch from minute one to 80 as the Men in Black scored seven tries in an entertaining affair.
Sarries made an energetic start and Alex Goode’s early 50:22 gave them the opportunity to take the lead with just three minutes gone, but they were penalised at lineout time and Lyon cleared.
A counter attack then gave the hosts a huge chance but a deliberate knock on stopped the attack, however it also sent Dylan Cretin to the sin-bin.
Maro Itoje then stormed through a huge gap in the defence and carried in to the 22 to get the crowd off their feet, and although that opportunity was missed the supporters sensed the opener was coming.
They were absolutely correct as just two minutes later Alex Lozowski’s brilliant interception have the hosts their first try of the evening. Lyon were pressing in to the 22, but a wide pass was read by the centre and he showed an impressive turn of pace to go 80 metres and dive under the sticks. Goode’s conversion made it 7-0 with 11 minutes gone.
The Londoners then took control of the match with two tries in as many minutes from Elliot Daly to race away from the French side.
The first was a sublime individual try which showed his incredible ability. His first sidestep fooled three defenders, and the second fooled everyone in the stadium before he turned on the afterburners and ran through from 30 metres in a try of the season contender.
His second was more of a team effort as Max Malins intercepted on the right and then when he was brought down the ball was shipped from right to left to find the full-back in acres of space for an easy run to the line. Goode converted both and now all of a sudden Sarries had a 21-0 lead with 20 minutes played.
StoneX had barely sat down when he then completed his hat trick in a quite remarkable passage of play. The relentless hosts were offloading left right and centre, and then Hugh Tizard’s pass put Daly through and his acrobatic finish earned him his third try in seven minutes.
Lyon hit back when Josiah Maraku coasted through from 35 metres after what looked to have been an infringement in the middle, and Fletcher Smith’s conversion made it 26-7 with 10 minutes left of an eventful first half.
Sarries went up another gear before the break and Marco Riccioni powered over from the back of a rolling maul for try number five, as they went past the 30 point mark at a red hot StoneX.
Andy Christie was next after more scintillating handling took them right up to the line, before the Scotland international smashed over his opposite number and stretched over the whitewash.
Ethan Dumortier crossed for the visitors in the final play of the half to give themselves a boost heading in to half time, as he stepped past the final man to make it 38-14 at the break.
Lyon got the second half off to a stormer as Dumortier went over for his second, this time a speculative kick ahead bounced up perfectly and evaded all the defenders to give him a clear run. Smith’s conversion cut the lead to 17 points.
Goode then stoped their momentum with a simple penalty from straight in front, as the hosts edged further ahead with 30 minutes remaining.
Arno Botha then got Lyon’s fourth just before the hour after Josua Tuisavoa’s audacious over the top offload, and with Smith’s conversion there were 13 points between the sides.
The crowd got increasingly anxious as a handful of chances disappeared when passes went to ground, but then a crucial turnover from Eroni Mawi bought the hosts some much needed territory as we entered the final 10 minutes.
Tuisova was then sent to the bin for Lyon after a nasty hand off to the face of Goode, and that have the hosts some much needed breathing space with only seconds left.
Ben Earl then thought he had scored as a ball popped up to him from Malins, but it had gone to ground first and we came back for an earlier advantage.
He then sealed the win though with a try from a rolling maul, and Goode’s conversion proved to be the last act of a thrilling match.
McCall’s side will now head to Edinburgh next Sunday looking to sign off the group stages in style.