Daly impresses on debut for Saracens in European triumph
The home nations were all strongly represented as Europe’s best club sides resumed their bid for glory in Marseille next year in the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup.
Elliot Daly was among the England players back in action after the Rugby World Cup as he produced a man-of-the-match performance to help Saracens get off the mark.
There were also impressive performances from Red Rose back Jack Nowell, Wales fly-half Dan Biggar and Ireland’s Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls on the second Champions Cup weekend.
British & Irish Lion No.822 Daly was making his first appearance for the reigning European champions following his move from Wasps to Saracens ahead of his Japanese adventure with England.
And having helped Eddie Jones’ side to the final of the World Cup, the full-back hit the ground running on his first start for the Men in Black as they beat Ospreys 44-3.
It was the perfect response from Saracens after losing to Racing 92 in their opening game, running in six tries as they bagged a bonus-point victory over their Welsh visitors.
Daly pulled the strings from the back for the hosts at Allianz Park, setting up three of their six tries to reignite their defence of the crown they won against Leinster in Newcastle.
Speaking afterwards, Daly said: “I needed a new challenge and coming to a club like this and having that opportunity is something you are never going to turn down.
“Everyone here is moving in the right direction and are going to push me in the right direction. For me it’s brilliant to come into a club now.
“We know what we need to do – we need to win every game. But that hasn’t changed from what I’ve heard the Sarries mindset is, we go into every game trying to win.”
Elsewhere, Lion No.828 Jack Nowell was also in scintillating form for Exeter Chiefs as the Premiership side defeated Glasgow Warriors 34-18 at Sandy Park.
Nowell, another member of England’s World Cup squad, delivered a man-of-the-match performance of his own as fellow Lion Stuart Hogg faced his former side for the first time.
Only Hogg and Tom O’Flaherty made more metres for Exeter than Nowell, who also beat the second most defenders behind the latter as he proved a constant menace to Warriors.
Elsewhere, Biggar held his nerve to kick the winning points for Northampton Saints with the clock in the red at the end of their thrilling 35-32 comeback triumph against Benetton.
The Lion and Wales star, who made five appearances on the 2017 Tour to New Zealand, finished with a 15-point haul as Saints continued their 100 per cent start to the Champions Cup.
Two-time tourist Sexton was also on target for last year’s beaten finalists Leinster, who ground out a narrow 13-6 victory on the road at Lyon to improve their record to two wins from two.
Sexton’s two penalties either side of converting the only try of the gam from Max Deegan proved enough to get the Irish province over the line.
Meanwhile, Earls scored one of Munster’s two tries as they responded to falling behind to Racing 92 to claim a dramatic 21-21 draw at Thomond Park.