They leapfrogged four places with their bonus point, four-try to three win, following last week’s 33-25 victory over the Dragons.
In the thin-aired, roasting atmosphere of a highveld summer afternoon the Lions had too much pace, power and sheer cussedness for a wilting Scarlets team who never gave up but lacked the extra gear to overcome the home team.
The Emirates Lions were on top from the first whistle with flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse smoothly steering home the first of four successful shots at goal in the sixth minute when the already perspiring Welshmen were caught offside.
The Lions’ first try arrived in the 12th minute when Rabz Maxwane almost surprised himself with a spectacular score from halfway. He weaved infield from his wing all the way to the line, looking to offload through a sea of Scarlets shirts. He eventually touched down halfway out on the right with half the credit belonging to centre Marius Louw who had opened a hole for the wing to step into with a pass behind his back.
Emmanuel Tshituka underlined the hosts’ early dominance with a classic eighthman’s try at the end of the first quarter, exploding off the back of surging scrum from five metres to smash through and over the tackle of the unfortunate flyhalf Sam Costelow.
The one-cap Welsh international had already missed a penalty and was unable to convert the Scarlets’ fightback try by flank Dan Davis seven minutes before the break. The visitors had begun to find some field position and finally broke the Lions’ defence from a driving maul.
Costelow was yellow carded for a high shot on Lions scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba shortly after Sango Xamlashe (centre) had also been given 10 minutes for not rolling away speedily enough from an attacking Scarlets ruck.
Hendrike goaled from halfway from Costelow’s infringement to give the Lions a 13-point half time lead (18-5) but they had to wait until 16 minutes into the second half to extend it.
The Scarlets had lifted the tempo and threatened to get themselves properly back into the match but a sweetly worked try from a five-metre lineout widened the lead. The ball was thrown to the back of the line where the lifted flank Darrien Landsberg passed off the top back the way it hard come for the back row partner Jaco Kriel to delightedly gather and waltz through a yawning gap to score.
That should have put the match beyond doubt, but the Scarlets hit straight back through right wing Tom Rogers (who also crossed untouched) after his team claimed possession from an overthrown Lions’ defensive lineout.
Replacement flyhalf Rhys Tatchell was also wide with his kick – the Scarlets’ third miss from three – but the game tipped back towards them in the final 10 minutes when Hendrikse was also sin binned for hands in the ruck at a breakaway breakdown close to the Lions’ line.
However, it was the Lions who ended the happier with Tshituka scoring the vital bonus point try before hard-working lock Sam Lousi claimed a late consolation after the siren had sounded.
Emirates Lions 32 (18) – Tries: Rabz Maxwane, Emmanuel Tshituka (2), Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2), Zander du Plessis. Penalty goals: Hendrikse (2).
Scarlets 15 (5) – Tries: Dan Davis, Tom Rogers, Sam Lousi.