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Taine Plumtree shines on debut but Scarlets brushed aside by Bulls in URC opener

By PA
(Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Taine Plumtree marked his Scarlets debut with a pair of tries but the Welsh side were outclassed as they were beaten 63-21 by Bulls in their United Rugby Championship season opener at Loftus Versfeld.

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Flanker Plumtree arrived in Llanelli from the Blues with hopes of impressing Wales coach Warren Gatland and forcing his way into the national squad and caught the eye in Pretoria despite Scarlets being second best.

Cameron Hanekom and Stedman Gans both scored a brace of tries for the hosts as the Bulls ran in nine, with fly-half Johan Goosen converting them all for a personal haul of 18 points.

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The Bulls were quickly out of the blocks as they crossed for two tries inside the first five minutes.

The South African side opened the scoring two minutes into the game when they kicked into touch from a penalty after the Scarlets were offside and, while the visitors defended the initial maul well, quick ball saw Ruan Nortje power over.

And it was the forwards again at the heart of the Bulls’ second try as they powered through a weak Scarlets defence before Johan Grobbelaar peeled off the back to feed number eight Hanekom to go over in the corner.

Hanekom got his second try of the game when he picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and powered his way over the Scarlets line.

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The bonus point was secured with 24 minutes on the clock when the Bulls turned over possession deep in the Scarlets half and as the ball was recycled Elrigh Louw flipped it off to Grobbelaar to canter in under the posts.

Match Summary

0
Penalty Goals
0
9
Tries
3
9
Conversions
3
0
Drop Goals
0
135
Carries
84
10
Line Breaks
5
14
Turnovers Lost
12
3
Turnovers Won
5

Scarlets got themselves on the board 10 minutes before the break when a tap-and-go penalty worked its way along the line for Johnny McNicholl to go over in the left corner and Ioan Lloyd converted from the touchline.

Plumtree then went over for the visitors a minute before the interval after Tom Rogers broke clear and Lloyd converted to make it 28-14 at half-time.

It took the Bulls just four minutes after the restart to go in for a fifth time as a chip over the top was latched onto by Harold Vorster and with the Scarlets defence stretched the ball went wide for David Kriel to go over in the corner.

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As the Dragons defence tired, the Bulls showed their ruthless side as Gans ran in a quickfire double before Akker Van der Merwe and Wandisile Simelane also crossed.

Plumtree then added a late consolation try for Scarlets.

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M
Michael 39 minutes ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Cant deny Christie is a good defender, box kicks well at times, BUT he’s a second too slow passing from the ground. Roigard, Ratima and Hotham will be our 2027 halfbacks I believe DMAC has played reasonably well in both games, so deserves to keep his place - his two breaks at Eden Park should have resulted in tries. Reece was really to blame for the Taylor failure - he stayed too wide, if he had come in a couple of meters the pass from Taylor would have worked. The Perofeta failure was extraordinary, he is normally such a good distributor, failure to draw in Steward was remarkable, failure to look inside was a shocker. Cory Flynn as lineout coach… umm something a miss here. Not sure who is calling the lineouts, but clearly we miss Whitelock’s leadership. Having a disfunctional line out really underminded the AB attack. But let’s remind ourselves Itoje is a master, and their tactics of going for the arms of the jumper on landing and pulling over was brilliant causing Paddy and Scooter to both fumble the balls. I am a Blues supporter so I like Talea, but if you play him on the wrong wing look out. While he’s not the fastest wing, he’s elusive and very industrious always looking for work. However, he’s not the tallest player, and everyone knows his weakness (a) being turned in defence - he’s slow to turn and react and (b) never jumps for high balls is normally out jumped. Personally, I find Recce and Talea too alike - Razor needs to couple them with another complementary partner Clark and Narawa respectively. However, for me the real troubling challenge is our mid-field. I am sorry Barrett & Ioane are a poor combo - either Barrett & Proctor or ALB & Ioane - but having two mid-fielders who are poor distributors is nuts. Jordie had a forgettable game in truth he missed so many tackles, which to be fair is unlike him. But sadly both Barrett and Ioane chose to bash first and rarely distribute cleanly.

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