Stunning second half performance secures bonus point win for Saints in Lyon
Saints delivered a stunning second-half display as they claimed their first win in France for nine years.
Chris Boyd's boys beat Lyon 36-24, outscoring their hosts 31-7 after the break to bag a magnificent bonus-point success that ends a run of 11 successive defeats across the Channel.
It means they have taken a huge step towards the Champions Cup quarter-finals, with Saracens and Gloucester now both needing bonus-point wins of their own to overtake Saints in the race for a best runners-up spot on Sunday.
The black, green and gold looked to be heading for a sluggish exit from Europe when they went in at half-time trailing 17-5.
But Mike Haywood's opening try was added to by Teimana Harrison, Cobus Reinach, George Furbank and James Fish as Lyon crumbled and Saints reigned supreme.
It was a sensational comeback that allowed the sizeable travelling support to celebrate in the Matmut Stadium sun.
But it was one that had looked unlikely during a difficult first half, which started with Tom Wood making a brilliant last-ditch tackle on Fiji star Josua Tuisova.
When the play moved into the other half of the field, Saints were met with stern French resistance, with Lyon showing real physicality in defence.
The hosts were also looking sharp in attack, forcing Saints to cling on to their coat tails as they tried to get away.
And Saints finally got a chance to apply some pressure as a succession of penalties led them deep into the Lyon 22, where they were able to knock loudly on the door from the lineout.
Lyon prop Francisco Gomez Kodela was sin-binned after his side infringed for a third time five metres from their line, and Saints took immediate advantage as Haywood scored from a maul.
Dan Biggar missed the conversion and Lyon responded almost immediately as Sam Higalgo-Clyne was allowed to find far too much space in the Saints 22 and he gave the ball to lock Felix Lambey for the score under the posts.
Jonathan Wisniewski converted and Lyon held the lead as they welcomed Gomez Kodela back from the bin.
The hosts were now well on top and after George Furbank saw his attempted clearance kick charged down, Lyon applied the squeeze, eventually scoring through Liam Gill, who took a quick tap penalty and powered over.
Wisniewski converted to make it 14-5 and there was still time for more Lyon points before the break as Saints lost the ball in the hosts' 22 and quickly found themselves defending their own line.
Lyon earned a penalty and Wisniewski landed it to make it 17-5 at half-time, leaving Saints with a mountain to climb in the second period against a ferocious home side.
Saints had a chance to start the second half with a bang after kicking successive penalties to the corner, and eventually Harrison showed his desire to get the ball down.
Biggar kicked to reduce the gap to just five points and Saints dared to dream again.
Tuisova, who had been a thorn in Saints' side, was replaced to warm applause and the man who came on for him, Ethan Dumortier, knocked on close to the line as he let Saints off the hook.
Boyd's boys were showing real defiance under huge pressure and they eventually got the chance to get back in opposition territory.
Harrison missed a massive opportunity after Biggar had put through a lovely grubber, which wasn't gathered by the No.8, who was just inches from an unguarded line.
But referee Dan Jones brought play back for an earlier penalty, and Biggar took the points to cut the gap to two points with more than 15 minutes remaining.
And Saints then delivered a special moment as Reinach showed his incredible speed once more, chasing down a long kick ahead, beating several Lyon players on the way and kicking ahead before gathering to score.
Biggar converted and Saints had turned it around at 22-17 up.
But they left the door open at the other end, with Charlie Ngatai skating past Rory Hutchinson and Furbank to issue an almost immediate riposte.
Wisniewski converted and his team led again at 24-22 up.
But Saints refused to go away and after Biggar delivered a clever inside pass, Furbank pinned his ears back and charged for the line, delivering a sensational step before scoring.
Biggar converted and Saints had their bonus point, leading 29-24 with seven massive minutes to go.
Lyon were looking weary and Saints were now starting to find acres of space.
Another lovely move took the men in grey within range, and Fish powered forward before stretching out an arm to score.
Biggar converted brilliantly once again to make it 36-24 and his team were heading for victory and, most likely, a place in the Champions Cup last eight.
Lyon: Arnold; Mignot, Tuisova (Dumortier 50), Ngatai (c), Nakaitaci (Buttin 70); Wisniewski, Hidalgo-Clyne (Pelissie 63); Chiocci (Devisme 46), Alkhazashvili (Mauroard 46), Gomez Kodela (Yameogo 60); Lambey, Roodt; Cretin, Sobela, Gill.
Saints: Furbank; Tuala (Mallinder 68), Dingwall, Symons (Hutchinson 60), Sleightholme; Biggar, Reinach; Waller (cc) (van Wyk 65), Haywood (Fish 74), O Franks (Painter 68); Moon, Lawes; Wood, Ludlam, Harrison (cc).
Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)