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14-man Lions too good for Dragons despite a first-half red card

By PA
Lions' Edwill van der Merwe (Photo by Steve Haag Sports/Gallo Images)

The Dragons suffered a sixth defeat of their United Rugby Championship campaign as the Lions triumphed 49-24 in Johannesburg. Despite the Lions having lock Ruben Schoeman red-carded after 26 minutes, they claimed a bonus-point victory.

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Centre Henco van Wyk, full-back Quan Horn, wing Edwill van der Merwe (two), scrum-half Morne van den Berg and number eight Francke Horn scored tries, while fly-half Sanele Nohamba kicked five conversions and three penalties for a 19-point haul.

The Dragons had their moments – notably impressive tries from flanker Harri Keddie, wing Ashton Hewitt and hooker Bradley Roberts – with Will Reed adding a penalty and three conversions, but defensive deficiencies were ruthlessly exposed by a free-flowing Lions outfit.

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The Dragons, crushed 69-14 by the Sharks in Durban last weekend, made a superb response after scrum-half Rhodri Williams was yellow-carded inside five minutes for a deliberate knock-on.

Centre Aneurin Owen broke from deep inside his half before Wales back row Aaron Wainwright surged clear and quickly recycled possession, resulting in Keddie touching down and Reed converting.

The Dragons showed plenty of adventure, but they were undone by a charged-down kick seven minutes later which allowed van Wyk an unopposed 60-metre run to the line.

Nohamba edged the Lions ahead through a 22nd-minute penalty, yet Schoeman was then sent off for a dangerous challenge on Hewitt.

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It made no difference to the Lions’ ambition, though, which was magnificently illustrated when they attacked from behind their line, wing Richard Kriel sprinted to halfway before Quan Horn finished off in style.

Nohamba converted, but Reed kept the Dragons in touch with a 39th-minute penalty that cut their interval deficit to 18-10. The Dragons made a miserable start to the second period, seeing Roberts sin-binned for a deliberate trip before their defence was unlocked when wing Rio Dyer slipped and van der Merwe touched down, with Nohamba converting.

The Welsh side needed a quick response and it arrived courtesy of Hewitt, who started and finished a flowing move, with Reed’s conversion bringing them back to striking distance, only for Nohamba to land another penalty.

Missed tackles led to the Lions claiming a bonus-point try when Kriel sent van den Berg sprinting over and Nohamba again added the extras before Roberts’ driving maul effort came too little, too late as Francke Horn and Van der Merwe completed the scoring.

  • Click here for all the RugbyPass stats from the Lions versus Dragons URC game
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