‘Extraordinary’ Elliot Daly bolsters Six Nations berth with first-half hat-trick

Elliot Daly of the Saracens makes a try - Elliot Daly supports the Six Nations quay with a hat-trick in the first half - Paul Childs/Reuters

Elliot Daly of the Saracens makes a try – Elliot Daly supports the Six Nations quay with a hat-trick in the first half – Paul Childs/Reuters

At the end of the Eddie Jones regime, Elliot Daly was so discredited that he was no longer part of the secret, 45-man Elite Players’ Team. Mark McCall announced this last October, after the Saracens accumulated half a century of points against the Leicester Tigers.

This win against Lyon turned out to be closer than it should have, but still underestimated Owen Farrell’s absence and sent the Saracens into the last 16 of the Champions Cup in their last group match against Edinburgh. It was also a perfectly timed reminder of Daly’s gifts. The 30-year-old not only scored a hat-trick in eight minutes in the first half, but also showcased a familiar football repertoire from fullbacks.

Watching from the stands on a chilly evening, Steve Borthwick will be impressed and knows Daly could be useful in a number of backline roles. Her telepathic relationship with Farrell—the two that had a devastating effect on the song—could affect Borthwick’s thinking for the Six Nations team that will be announced Monday.

In last season’s Six Nations match against Scotland and Wales, Daly teamed up with Henry Slade in an unstable midfield partnership that never seemed to bring out the best of anyone. Not surprisingly, England struggled to establish itself in these matches. Daly earned his 57th and final cap from the bench as he completed the French Grand Slam. McCall believes more to come.

Saracens' Maro Itoje at work with Olympique Lyon's Hamza Kaabache - Paul Childs/Reuters

Saracens’ Maro Itoje at work with Olympique Lyon’s Hamza Kaabache – Paul Childs/Reuters

“He’s not only playing well at fullback – he was phenomenal there – he was also strong in November when he was away at centre,” said Daly’s Saracens boss on Saturday night. “I’d be very surprised if he’s not on Steve’s roster on Monday.”

Lyon found themselves down to 14 in the seventh minute. Andy Christie and Jamie George forced a turnover and as the hosts tried to carry the ball into space, Dylan Cretin slapped a pass from Nick Tompkins.

Billy Vunipola stepped forward as the Saracens applied pressure and attempted to cross-kick Daly before sending Maro Itoje down a hole on the win line with a deft tip. A bespectacled Borthwick will have particularly enjoyed the second of these interventions. Vunipola’s handling skills remain truly special. There were many reminders in the evening.

As it happened, devastating defense would be the source of Saracens’ first points. Alex Lozowski jumped off the line and caught Fletcher Smith’s pass. The five-title England center, another scored by Jones, ran 60 meters to score.

Daly’s rapid-fire high-pitched voice would follow. The first was a weaving run that shattered Lyon’s kick chase. In the beginning, Sean Maitland had some hurdles as he dashed in front of the carrier, but Daly’s balance in the open field has always been impressive.

The second began with Max Malins intervening, Daly fending off Josiah Maraku and accelerating on the opposite flank. Third, Alex Goode limited his slightly wider stage play with sharp passes from Billy Vunipola and Hugh Tizard. Daly’s dive, finishing one-handed, was excellent.

Alex Lozowski celebrates goal - Paul Childs/Reuters

Alex Lozowski celebrates goal – Paul Childs/Reuters

Lyon responded when Maraku was out of sight, but Daly would catch Borthwick’s attention with a fierce fight that gave Kyle Godwin an endorsement. Soon after, Marco Riccioni took advantage of a slap for number five, and Daly’s clinic continued with a 50:22 rake. As Christie lay down, the Saracens caught the sixth.

The visitors were generous in defense, but were still able to use considerable firepower. Josua Tuisova is among the most destructive runners on the planet, and Dumortier ran blindly on a breakdown between Billy Vunipola and Daly. McCall should have been content with a 38-14 band in the first half, his team making their way into the knockout stages.

Dumortier scored again with a nice chip and chase to start the second period before Ben Earl’s truck fight allowed Goode to add a penalty. Lyon did not stretch and Arno Botha was ready for the fourth. As the bout concluded, Tuisova saw a late yellow as she led Goode with her forearm, and Earl was punctuated for a challenge attempt. Borthwick will have been a little worried about both Daly and Itoje cautiously leaving the pitch towards the end, but he’ll undoubtedly have found great courage as well.

Match details

Scorers: 5-0 Lozowski test, 7-0 Goode transformation, 12-0 Day test, 14-0 Goode transformation, 19-0 Daily test, 21-0 Goode transformation, 26-0 Daily test, 26-5 Maraku test, 26- 7 Smith transforms, 31-7 Riccinoi trials, 36-7 Christie trials, 38-7 Goode transforms, 38-12 Dumortier trials, 38-14 Smith trials, 38-19 Dumortier trials, 38-21 Smith transforms, 41-21 Goode penalty, 41-26 Botha try, 41-28 Smith conversion, 46-28 Earl try, 48-28 Goode conversion

Saracens: E Daly (A Lewington, 69); M Malins, A Lozowski, N Tompkins, S Maitland; A Goode, I van Zyl (A Davies, 58); Mako Vunipola (E Mawi, 46), J George (T Woolstencroft, 60), M Riccioni (C Judge, 68), M Itoje (T Dan, 76), H Tizard (N Isiekkwe, 54), A Christie, B Earl , B. Vunipola

Unused backup: Manu Vunipola

Lyon: E Trucker; J Tuisova, J Maraku, K Godwin, T Veredamu; F Smith (T Arnold, 62), J Pélissé (JM Doussain, 28); H Kaabeche (S Taofenua, 52), G Marchand (L Coltman, 52), F Gomez Kodela (D Bamba, 46), J Kpoku (T William, 60), T Mayanavanua, D Cretin, P Sobela (B Saginadze, 52) ) ), A Bota (L Goujon, 60)

participation: 8.436

Judge: Andrea Piard

Yellow card: Cretin 7, Tuisova 78

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