United Rugby Championship: Scarlets 23-24 Lions - Hosts throw away victory in Llanelli

Marius Louw scored the opening Lions try against Scarlets
Marius Louw scored the opening Lions try against Scarlets

United Rugby Championship

Scarlets (10) 23

Tries: Rogers, Elias Cons: Lloyd 2 Pens: Lloyd 3

Lions (7) 24

Tries: Louw, Botha, Van Wyk Cons: Nohamba 3 Pens: Nohamba

Scarlets threw away victory against Lions in the United Rugby Championship (URC) match as the South African side celebrated a first league win of the season.

Scarlets were leading 23-14 with six minutes remaining after tries from Tom Rogers and Ryan Elias and 13 points from Ioan Lloyd.

Steff Evans had a kick charged down for the vital try by Henco van Wyk.

Fly-half kicked Sanele Nohamba added the winning conversion.

Lions captain Marius Louw and hooker PJ Botha had scored earlier tries for the Lions, who had opened the season with three defeats.

This was a third loss for Scarlets with the win over Cardiff last weekend the only victory.

Wales hooker Elias returned from the World Cup to make his first Scarlets appearance in 11 months and produced a fine ball-carrying performance.

Elias was one of five personnel changes with wing Rogers, prop Harri O'Connor, flanker Taine Plumtree and number eight Carwyn Tuipulotu returning with Vaea Fifita switching to lock.

Scarlets were without Wales fly-half Sam Costelow who has been ruled out until least January after suffering hamstring and shoulder injuries against Barbarians last weekend.

It means the Wales number 10 position is open for candidates following the international retirement of Dan Biggar while Gareth Anscombe is unavailable for the 2024 Six Nations following his club move to Japan. Scarlets throw away victory against Lions

Jarrod Evans and Joe Hawkins are also ineligible for selection after signing for English clubs, while Rhys Patchell is heading to New Zealand to play for the Highlanders.

So Lloyd has an opportunity to impress for region and country in his favoured fly-half position having signed from Bristol where he played across the backline.

After slotting over the opening penalty, Lloyd scythed through the defence to provide the platform for Fifita and wing Steff Evans to set up Rogers for the opening try.

Lions responded as captain Louw took advantage of some slack Scarlets defence to stroll over unopposed under the posts.

Lloyd almost created another try, but the final pass went astray, while the Lions were enjoying scrum superiority in the first half.

Lions prop Corne Fourie avoided a yellow card for a high tackle on Scarlets lock Alex Craig with Lloyd hitting the post with the penalty attempt as Scarlets led 10-7 at half-time.

Ioan Lloyd, who has played two internationals for Wales, clears his lines against Lions
Ioan Lloyd, who has played two internationals for Wales, clears his lines against Lions

Lloyd slotted over his second penalty early in the second half before Lions fly-half Nohamba, usually a scrum-half, took a quick tap penalty which laid the foundations for hooker Botha to burrow over.

Nohamba converted to give the visitors the lead for the first time before Lloyd restored the home advantage with another penalty.

Scarlets centre Eddie James made a searing break, but failed to utilise an overlap and the move broke down.

Flankers Plumtree, who was battling with an arm injury, and Teddy Leatherbarrow gained some crucial second-half turnovers.

Elias gained a deserved try when he was driven over from a rolling maul while Lloyd's conversion took Scarlets nine points clear.

Nohamba's penalty brought the Lions to back within a score.

With three minutes to go, wing Evans had his kick charged down by wing Richard Kriel with centre van Wyk crossing and Nohamba slotting the easy match-winning conversion to send the Scarlets' fans home disappointed.

Scarlets: Johnny McNicholl; Tom Rogers, Joe Roberts, Eddie James, Steff Evans; Ioan Lloyd, Gareth Davies (capt); Kemsley Mathias, Ryan Elias, Harri O'Connor, Alex Craig, Vaea Fifita, Taine Plumtree, Teddy Leatherbarrow, Carwyn Tuipulotu.

Replacements: Shaun Evans, Steff Thomas, Wyn Jones, Morgan Jones, Ben Williams, Kieran Hardy, Charlie Titcombe, Ioan Nicholas.

Lions: Quan Horn; Richard Kriel, Henco van Wyk, Marius Louw (capt), Edwill van der Merwe; Sanele Nohamba, Morne van den Berg; Corne Fourie, PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Ruben Schoeman, Ruan Delport, Hanru Sirgel, Emmanuel Tshituka, Francke Horn.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, JP Smith, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Willem Alberts, Ruan Venter, JC Pretorius, Jordan Hendrikse, Rynardt Jonker.

Referee: Chris Busby (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Gareth Newman & Simon Mills (WRU)

TMO: Colin Stanley (IRFU)

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