Lame Lions back down to earth with a bang
URC MATCH REPORT: The Scarlets gave the Lions a big dose of reality, when they beat them 36-13 in Llanelli on Friday.
The four tries to one margin flatter a Lions team that looked a pale shadow of the side that beat Zebra last week.
In stark contrast, the Welsh franchise bounced back from their Round One loss to show they could be real contenders for a place in the play-offs.
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Tom Rogers scored a pair of tries to help guide Scarlets to the commanding win.
On top of Rogers’ double, a try each from Rob Evans and Steff Evans was enough to help get Dwayne Peel’s side over the line. Sam Costelow also contributed 16 points with the boot.
Ruben Schoeman scored the Lions’ only try with Jordan Hendrikse kicking eight points.
The Scarlets started strongly and after a short period of pressure on the Lions try line loosehead prop Evans powered over from short range, with Costelow converting.
Hendrikse put the Lions on the scoreboard with a monster penalty from 50 metres out.
The Scarlets hit back with their second try in the 19th minute. After a few shunts with their driving line-out, the ball was put through the hands, with some neat handling from Williams, Costelow, Steff Evans and Johnny McNicholl putting Rogers over at the far right-hand corner.
Costelow improved their lead with a tremendous touchline conversion. But the Scarlets scrum was under pressure which allowed Hendrikse to pull three points back for the Lions. Costelow hit another penalty from 35 metres out meaning the Scarlets led 20-6 at the interval.
The visitors applied a lot of pressure on the Scarlets with a driving line-out which looked to be creeping over the line, but the hosts held firm.
But the Lions continued to lay siege to the Welsh side’s try line with the west Walians struggling to contain their powerful carriers, and at last, Schoeman touched down from short range, with Hendrikse adding the extras to make it a one-score game again.
Costelow immediately pushed the Scarlets further ahead with a penalty from 45 metres out.
The Scarlets burst into life with another tremendous break from Rogers slicing the Lions open, with his offload sending Dan Blacker racing towards the line.
But the scrumhalf was tackled close to the line before a high shot from Sibahle Maxwane stopped him in his tracks.
Maxwane was punished with a yellow card which allowed Costelow to kick another three points.
The hosts had wrestled back the momentum and made the most of their numerical advantage with a try from inside their own 22. Scott Williams burst clear before offloading to Ioan Nicholas who sent Jonathan Davies powering forward. Davies drew in EW Viljoen to put Rogers over for his second try.
And the Scarlets claimed the bonus-point try at the death as deceptive winger Evans sliced through the Lions defence to score a try from 50 metres out.
Tries: R Evans, Rogers 2, S Evans
Cons: Costelow 2
Pens: Costelow 4
For the Lions
Pens: Hendrikse 2
Yellow card: Sibahle Maxwane (Lions, 66 – cynical foul, killing the ball in the tackle)
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jonathan Davies (captain), 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 Tom Price, 4 Jac Price, 3 WillGriff John, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Shaun Evans, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Pieter Jansen Van Vuren, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Botha, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Eddie Fouche, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)
Assistant referees: Elgan Williams (Wales), Tom Spurrier (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Penne (Italy)
— United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) October 1, 2021