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