SCARLETS suffered a punishing debut in this season’s Heineken Champions Cup, going down 45-10 to a dominant Bordeaux-Begles on Sunday (Jan 16).
The French Top 14 leaders showed why they are flying high in their domestic competition, scoring seven tries in all.
Scarlets had their moments, crossing in the second half through Liam Williams and Gareth Davies, but missed tackles and too many errors meant they were always on the back foot.
Scarlets were forced into a couple of changes prior to kick-off with Morgan Jones coming in for Blade Thomson and Aaron Shingler switching to the back row. With tight-head prop WillGriff John also pulling up in the warm-up Samson Lee was drafted into the starting XV.
On a crisp Sunday afternoon in the south west France, it was the Top14 pacesetters, themselves disrupted by Covid absentees, who started the stronger, dominating possession and territory.
Led by Shingler and Tomas Lezana, the Scarlets defence proved stubborn in the opening quarter with the game remaining scoreless, but Bordeaux went up a gear after that, scoring three tries in the space of nine rampant minutes.
Some slick hands from the impressive Mathieu Jalibert freed fellow France international Cameron Woki for the first; full-back Louis Bielle-Biarrey crossed at the posts minutes later, then wing Geoffrey Cros added a third after Liam Williams had been shown yellow for going off his feet at a ruck.
Scarlets did manage to make inroads into the home 22 in the final moments of the half, but were unable to trouble the scoreboard operators with Bordeaux’s physical defence proving tough to crack.
The West Walians almost got on the board at the start of the second half, but hooker Ryan Elias was held up over the line from a clever line-out move.
Instead, it was the hosts celebrating when full-back Bielle-Biarrey pounced for his second and Bordeaux’s bonus-point score.
Scarlets’ finally did get their try when Liam Williams dived onto a perfectly-weighted cross-kick from Patchell, but Bordeaux’s dominance continued with Maxime Lamoth racing over after great work from Santiago Cordero.
The Scarlets stemmed the flow with their second on the hour mark. Patchell gathered an attacking Bordeaux kick, fed Gareth Davies and the scrum-half turned on the afterburners to race 70 metres to the line.
However, back once again came the hosts with further tries for Nans Ducuing and a third for Bielle-Biarrey to complete a sobering evening for Dwayne Peel’s side.
Scarlets will hope for better luck this Saturday, January 22, as they host Bristol Bears, kick off at 5:30pm.