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Current Gallagher Premiership joint leaders Northampton Saints will face TOP 14 pace setters Lyon for the first time in European competition on Sunday in a hotly anticipated Pool 1 clash.
Lyon will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2018/19 campaign in the Heineken Champions Cup while Northampton return to the competition after reaching the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
- Chris Boyd (Northampton Saints): They’ve had an outstanding start to the French competition this year and they’ve got really, really good local form, as they did last year, I think they finished third in that league. So, they’re going to be a tough prospect, but if we have ambitions to advance in the tournament, it’s a game at home that we need to have a good performance in.
- Pierre Mignoni (Lyon): It’s a big match against a top team. It’s good, we’re going to get stuck into the competition quickly. We hosted them last year and now we’re going there.
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- Lyon have met Premiership opposition just twice in the Heineken Champions Cup, losing twice to Saracens in the pool stage last season. They won five of their eight games against English opposition in the Challenge Cup, however.
- Saints come into Sunday’s fixture having won their last two European home games (both in the Challenge Cup), and they haven’t enjoyed a longer winning sequence at home in Europe since a run of four straight victories in 2014.
- Northampton averaged 49 points and 7.2 tries per game in the Challenge Cup last season, more than any other side, averaging the most metres per game in the process (684).
- Lyon conceded the most turnovers per game in the Heineken Champions Cup last season (18.8) while Saints conceded the most in the Challenge Cup (18.0).
- Twenty eight of Northampton’s 43 tries in the Challenge Cup last season came in the second half of matches, and no side crossed for more second half tries (level with ASM Clermont Auvergne).
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Northampton Saints’ fine first-half display was enough to secure a 25-14 victory over Lyon in their opening match in Champions Cup Pool 1.
Dan Biggar struck four first-half penalties and converted a superb try by Rory Hutchinson to give Saints a 19-0 lead at half time. The second half proved trickier for the hosts, but they sustained plenty of French pressure until two tries for Thibault Regard, which came too late to change the result.
Biggar’s first contribution came after two minutes following a Lyon offence at the breakdown and he slotted another penalty after nine minutes following a messy Lyon lineout.
On 25 minutes came a sizzling try for the hosts with fine work by the forwards, then a lovely quick offload by Biggar opening up a miniscule gap which Hutchinson burst through to touch down after being half-tackled by two defenders.
Hutchinson with the Try!
Great hands from Biggar, and Hutchinson with the scramble for his first European score!@SaintsRugby are rolling at the Garden! pic.twitter.com/IoxWcs3rdL
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) November 17, 2019
Five minutes later a forward pass ruled out another delightful Saints team try but Biggar kept the scoreboard ticking with two further penalties before the break.
He soon added his fifth two minutes after half time but Lyon exerted tremendous pressure which was rewarded on the hour when – with Teimana Harrison in the sin-bin for Saints – Regard touched down and Jonathan Wisniewski converted.
Biggar’s sixth penalty gave Northampton a bit more breathing space, meaning Lyon’s second try in the dying seconds, also by Regard, made no difference to the outcome.
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