Northampton Saints resisted a Lyon comeback to get their Heineken Champions Cup campaign off to a winning start at Franklin’s Gardens.
The Saints led 19-0 at half-time through Rory Hutchinson’s converted try and four Dan Biggar penalties.
The French Top 14 leaders fought back after the break thanks to two tries from Thibaut Regard and successful conversions from Jonathan Wisniewski.
But Saints held off Lyon’s efforts to claim a losing bonus point.
Wales fly-half Biggar landed two early penalties for Saints, but Lyon had a try disallowed in the 11th minute when replays showed that Patricio Fernandez got a slight touch on the ball just before he intercepted a stray pass to race over the Saints try line.
Saints capitalised when Hutchinson crossed shortly afterwards, the Scotland centre slipping a tackle before rolling over the line. Cobus Reinach then had a home try disallowed before half-time when Biggar’s pass to his scrum-half was revealed to be forward.
Lyon were much improved in the second half, and they finally scored when Wisniewski’s clever crossfield kick caught out the Saints defence with Regard taking a high catch before swerving over the line to dot down.
Saints had number eight Teimana Harrison sin-binned around this stage and then saw Lyon’s Charlie Ngatai dive over in the corner, but the New Zealander’s effort was ruled out for a knock on in the build up.
Regard cut the lead further when he barged through two tacklers from close range, but with Harrison back on the pitch the hosts were able to hold out for a win that puts them second in Pool 1 behind Leinster.
‘We could have been more clinical’ – Coach reaction
Northampton director of rugby Chris Boyd: “We controlled the game in the first half and if we had been a bit more clinical, we would have been further ahead.
“We let them back into it, not for the first time we’ve allowed opponents to do so, as we sat on the lead but credit to them for their comeback.
“We knew we had to be top draw to beat them as I enjoy the way they play. They have a great style of rugby, both in attack and defence.
“They weren’t at their best today and the game didn’t rise to the spectacle I would have hoped for.”
Northampton: Furbank; Collins, Hutchinson, Francis, Naiyaravoro; Biggar, Reinach; Waller, Haywood, Painter, Ribbans, Lawes, Wood, Ludlam, Harrison
Replacements: Fish, Van Wyk, Franks, Ratuniyarawa, Gibson, Mitchell, Proctor, Tuala
Lyon: Buttin; Tuisova, Barassi, Ngatai, Nakaitaci; Fernandez, Pelissie; Chaume, Maurouard, Ric, Geraci, Goujon, Gill, Sobela, Fearns
Replacements: Ivaldi, Kaabeche, Bamba, Roodt, Bruni, Couilloud, Wisniewski, Regard