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Scarlets defeated as Lions claim back-to-back United Rugby Championship wins

By PA
Vincent Tshituka of the Lions on the attack and scores a try during the United Rugby Championship match between Emirates Lions and Edinburgh at Emirates Airline Park(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Scarlets suffered a 32-15 United Rugby Championship away defeat to Lions, who made it back-to-back wins at Emirates Airline Park.

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A brace from man-of-the-match Emmanuel Tshituka helped the Johannesburg-based outfit clinch a bonus-point success with Rabz Maxwane and Jaco Kriel also crossing over.

It was a fourth-consecutive loss for visiting Scarlets, who grabbed tries from Dan Davis, Tom Rodgers and Sam Lousi but left with nothing to show for their effort.

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Jordan Hendrikse had starred in Lions’ win over Dragons last weekend and he did not need long to get into his groove with a penalty sent over successfully in the sixth minute.

Scarlets had barely left their 22 by this point and it was no surprise when the hosts went over for a first try after 12 minutes.

It was Maxwane who produced an outstanding finish on his first start of the campaign but only after a sumptuous offload by Marius Louw, who had been tackled by opposite number Scott Williams.

Lowe’s brilliant pass still left Maxwane with plenty of work to do but the Lions speedster checked inside and out to fool Jonathan Davies and leave plenty of other Scarlets’ players trailing behind as he raced over the try line.

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An incredible last-ditch intervention from Lousi prevented further damage when he held up Sanele Nohamba by grabbing the shirt of the home scrum-half, who was a matter of yards from scoring but it was brief respite.

Tshituka powered over from close range with 20 minutes played after an excellent Lions scrum and Hendrikse added the extras on this occasion to make it 15-0.

Slowly but surely Scarlets began to impose themselves on the contest against their Southern Hemisphere opponents and after a try was chalked off for offside, Davis did jot down with eight minutes of the first half remaining.

A smart line-out saw Davis profit from a driving maul but Wales youngster Sam Costelow saw his difficult afternoon continue with another missed kick.

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Costelow would also enter the sin-bin before the opening 40 minutes were up and another Hendrikse penalty made it 18-5 at the interval.

Vaea Fifita was forced off for Scarlets following a bang to the face early in the second period before they were denied a try when Ryan Conbeer was held up in the corner after Dane Blacker’s brilliant break.

It was not long before Lions turned the screw again with Darrien Landsberg claiming the line-out and finding the onrushing Kriel to go over for the hosts’ third score in the 55th minute.

Back came the visitors though with Rogers finishing impressively three minutes later to ensure a hard-fought final quarter would occur in South Africa.

A yellow to Hendrikse with 10 minutes to go raised further hope of Scarlets being able to close the gap but it was player of the match Tshituka who saved his best until last.

The number eight barged his way past Conbeer to go over but circled back round to jot down under the posts to leave an easy conversion for replacement Zander Du Plessis.

Scarlets did have the final say on proceedings when Lousi crossed over with the clock in the red but it failed to prevent a fourth-straight URC loss for the Welsh outfit, who stay 15th while Lions are now up to fifth.

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finn 5 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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