United Rugby Championship: Lions 32-15 Scarlets

Sam Lousi of the Scarlets passes to Aaron Shingler

Lions (18) 32
Tries: Maxwane 2, Tshituka, Kriel Cons: Hendrikse 2 Pens: Hendrikse 2
Scarlets (5) 15
Tries: Davis, Rogers, Lousi

Scarlets’ miserable season continued with defeat to Lions in the Johannesburg heat.

Two scores from Rabz Maxwane and tries from Emmanuel Tshituka and Jaco Kriel ensured the bonus-point for the hosts, who secured back-to-back home wins.

Dan Davies, Tom Rogers and Sam Lousi crossed for Scarlets.

The result rounds off a disappointing weekend for the regions in South Africa, with Ospreys, Cardiff and Dragons also suffering defeat.

Scarlets now find themselves second from bottom in the United Rugby Championship (URC) table, with just the one win this season.

Dwayne Peel had made six changes to his starting XV and welcomed back Vaea Fifita from suspension along with Wales international Sam Costelow.

Lions dominated early on as Scarlets struggled to live with their tempo in the soaring heat.

Jordan Hendrikse’s enormous boot proved a weapon and he kicked the hosts ahead after Blade Thompson was penalised for a high tackle.

The first try came from Maxwane, who was able to dance his way through a questionable Scarlets defence on the counter-attack.

There was nothing Costelow could have done as Lions celebrated their second, the fly-half a complete mismatch for the power of number eight Tshituka.

Lions looked set to bag a third inside 20 minutes, scrum-half Sanele Nohamba almost certain to touch down after peeling away from the scrum, only for Fifita to hold him up by his shirt just inches above the line.

Scarlets gradually grew into the game and Fifita looked to have repeated his heroics at the other end of the field, crossing after a quickly taken penalty.

But his effort was ruled out by the television match official (TMO) who deemed the second row had been part of the ruck.

Scarlets kicked to touch from the previous penalty, and a well-taken catch and drive saw Davis over for his first try of the season.

Costelow, like a previous penalty attempt, was off target from a relatively simple conversion.

Scarlets looked set to go in at half-time with a man advantage after Sango Xamlashe was shown a yellow card for not rolling away, but Costelow followed him off the field moments later, a soft sin-binning for a high tackle.

Hendrikse kicked Lions further ahead from the resulting long-range penalty.

Dane Blacker replaced Gareth Davies at scrum-half after the break, and Scarlets found themselves under the cosh immediately with a great 50:22 kick by Nohamba.

Lions looked almost certain to score, the ball shipped out wide to Maxwane who could not gather a simple pass for what would have been a walk-in.

Scarlets lock Sam Lousi was forced off the field for treatment when a swinging arm struck him on the nose, but the TMO declared it a rugby incident rather than foul play.

Blacker injected some signs of life and launched a promising attack from first-phase play, but Ryan Conbeer was bundled into touch just before the try line – a move which summed up Scarlets’ season so far.

Lions edged closer to the bonus points with a try straight off the training park.

A long throw at the line opened up space for Kriel to dart through the middle, the flanker back in the starting line-up and back on the score sheet.

But Scarlets were not down and out as they returned to the Lions half, a looping pass found Rogers out wide who was able to touch down in the corner.

Rogers looked in for his second after some great offload play from Fifita, but he was pulled down agonisingly short of the try line, Hendrikse seeing yellow for playing the ball on the floor.

Despite the man advantage, it was Lions who took advantage, Maxwane in for his second and the all-important bonus point.

But Lousi, back on the field, had the final say for Scarlets, with a try at the death.

Lions: Quan Horn; Rabz Maxwane, Sango Xamlashe, Marius Louw, Edwill van der Merwe; Jordan Hendrikse, Sanele Nohamba; Sti Sithole, PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Ruben Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel (capt), Jaco Kriel, Darrien Landsberg, Emmanuel Tshituka.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, JP Smith, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Ruan Venter, Sibusiso Sangweni, Andre Warner, Gianni Lombard, Zander du Plessis.

Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Jonathan Davies (capt), Scott Williams, Ryan Conbeer; Sam Costelow, Gareth Davies; Kemsley Mathias, Taylor Davies, WillGriff John, Sam Lousi, Vaea Fifita, Aaron Shingler, Dan Davis, Blade Thomson.

Replacements: Shaun Evans, Phil Price, Javan Sebastian, Sione Kalamafoni, Tomás Lezana, Dane Blacker, Rhys Patchell, Steff Evans.

Referee: Ben Blain (SRU)

Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron & Christopher Allison (SARU)

TMO: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

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