Rob Evans of Scarlets scores a try during the United Rugby Championship against the Lions. (Gruffydd Thomas/Huw Evans Agency/Gallo Images)
South African teams have hardly lived up to their reputation at the start of the United Rugby Championship (URC), but the Lions sunk the country to further depths with a toothless performance at the Parc y Scarlets.
After beating Italian side Zebre, the Lions succumbed to their first loss of the competition with a 36-13 defeat but played in a manner ill-befitting their reputation as SA’s more entertaining exports.
The Lions failed to string cutting phases and their set-piece work was sloppy.
AS IT HAPPENED | Scarlets 36-13 Lions
Overthrown lineouts and knock-ons were all the rage, while their high ball skills left much to be desired.
Scarlets duly capitalised and made light work at times of the Lions defence, scoring as early as the 5th minute through prop Rob Evans.
A simple swing move led to right with Tom Roger scoring in the corner before Scarlets flyhalf Sam Castelow kept the visitors at bay with two penalties and gave the hosts a handy 20-6 half-time lead.
Until lock Ruben Schoeman scored from a pick-and-drive on the hour mark, the Lions only had two Jaden Hendrikse scores to count on.
But the Schoeman try was a fitting reward for bossing the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
It was a lumpy, imperfect score but the men from Johannesburg needed any bit of hope to cling on.
But what was meant to spur them on for a comeback proved to be their highest point of the match as Scarlets woke up and took charge of the match once more.
They responded with their own pressure, which led to Rabz Maxwane getting sin-binned for a professional foul during a cover tackle.
Scarlets put the game beyond doubt with 10 minutes to go when Rogers rounded off a coast-to-coast move that was beautiful in its simplicity.
The Lions could only watch and hopefully learn how to string together an error-free attack – a lesson they’ll need for the visit to Glasgow next weekend.
And Scarlets weren’t done. Left wing Steff Evans also got a piece of the pie with a late, sumptuously structured first-phase move that led to his try.
Scarlets – 36 (20)
Tries: Rob Evans, Tom Rogers (2), Steff Evans
Conversions: Sam Costelow (2)
Penalties: Sam Costelow (4)
Lions – 13 (6)
Tries: Ruben Schoeman
Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse
Penalties: Jordan Hendrikse (2)
15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Rogers, 13 Jon 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
Substitutes: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Phil Price, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Shaun Evans, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ioan Nicholas
15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vince Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Ruan Dreyer
Substitutes: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Sibusiso Sangweni, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Eddie Fouche, 23 Divan Rossouw