A disappointing performance from the Emirates Lions saw them comprehensively dispatched 36-13 by Scarlets in their United Rugby Championship match-up in Llanelli, Wales on Friday night.
After starting their URC campaign with a bonus point win over Zebre last week, the Lions were brought straight back down to earth by a strong performance by hosts Scarlets, who ran in four tries to the visitor’s one.
Scarlets got off to a strong start in the match and were rewarded for some good pressure in the Lions 22m when prop Rob Evans crashed over from close range, with flyhalf Sam Costelow adding the extras to go up 7-0 after six minutes.
The Lions then should have responded after a good period of play of their own in Scarlets 22m, but with the try line begging they knocked on and despite receiving a penalty were unable to utilise the line out 5m out, with the home side clearing.
The Lions then got on the board in the 14th minute after a penalty at the breakdown on the halfway line in front of the uprights, flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse lined up the penalty and converted to make it 7-3.
This became 14-3 five minutes later as Scarlets kicked a penalty deep into the Lions 22m and attacked from the line out, ending with right wing Tom Rogers going over in the corner and Costelow adding the tricky conversion.
ALSO READ: ‘Not good enough, not accurate enough,’ says White after Bulls defeat
The Lions then lost prop Ruan Dreyer to an injury with Sti Sithole replacing him, however it didn’t disrupt their play with them enjoying their best period of the match so far towards the end of the half, only to be let down by some dreadful set piece play.
First Costelow and Hendrikse traded penalties to make it 17-6 after 33 minutes, before the Lions earned two line outs in the Scarlets 22m in quick succession, only for hooker Jaco Visagie to overthrow both and allow the hosts to clear their lines.
Costelow then rubbed salt into the wound with another successful penalty in the final minute of the half as Scarlets went into halftime 20-6 up.
The Lions then enjoyed a strong start to the second half but were made to rue their decision to not take any chances at goal, instead opting to kick into the Scarlets 22m for line outs, which they did on four occasions and were unable to come away with points on any of those occasions.
Finally in the 61st minute the Lions were rewarded for their effort as they took a quick tap penalty close to the line and then hammered away with a number of pick and goes before lock Ruben Schoeman burrowed over to score, with Hendrikse converting to bring the visitors back into the match at 20-13.
The Lions then proceeded to fall apart in the final 20 minutes of the match as Costelow punished the Lions with two more penalties, the second after wing Rabz Maxwane was yellow carded for killing the ball with Scarlets on attack deep in the Lions 22m.
An embarrassing try was then scored in the 70th minute after the Lions were penalised for not releasing at a ruck on attack in the Scarlets 22m, who then noticed the Lions defence not getting into position, so took a quick tap and ran the length of the field to end with Rogers scoring his second to make it 31-13.
Scarlets then ended the match in style as they attacked from a scrum on the halfway line in the final minute of the game, with left wing Steff Evans put into a huge hole to sprint away and score their bonus point try in the corner.
Tries: Rob Evans, Tom Rogers (2), Steff Evans
Conversions: Sam Costelow (2)
Penalties: Sam Costelow (4)
Tries: Ruben Schoeman
Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse
Penalties: Jordan Hendrikse (2)