THE Dragons failed to take advantage of a Lions red card to record a first win in South Africa after being beaten 49-24 at Ellis Park.

Dai Flanagan’s men scented an opportunity when Ruben Schoeman red-carded after 26 minutes for taking out Ashton Hewitt when attempting a charge down.

However, the Lions made light of that dismissal to claim a bonus-point win thanks to scores by centre Henco van Wyk, full-back Quan Horn, wing Edwill van der Merwe (2), scrum-half Morne van den Berg and number eight Francke Horn.

Fly-half Sanele Nohamba kicked five conversions and three penalties for a 19-point haul.

The Dragons had their moments – notably impressive tries from flanker Harri Keddie, wing Ashton Hewitt and hooker Bradley Roberts – with Will Reed adding a penalty and three conversions, but defensive deficiencies were ruthlessly exposed by a free-flowing Lions outfit.

The Dragons made seven changes to the XV hammered by the Sharks but were forced into retaining a different centre when Sio Tomkinson pulled out, meaning Aneurin Owen slotted in at 12 with Steff Hughes shifting to 13.

Head coach Dai Flanagan had hammered home the importance of a strong start against a Lions side that would be “all-out attack”.

They had their backs against the wall early on when scrum-half Rhodri Williams was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, yet promptly struck for the opener.

Owen charged down a kick in the 22 and started a superb counter that ended, after an injection of real pace from Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright, with flanker Harri Keddie powering over from close range.

The 14 men looked to extend their lead in the 12th minute but were hit by a sucker punch when Hughes’ kick through was pouched and offloaded for Henco van Wyk to break away for a five-pointer.

The conversion was wide but Sanele Nohamba soon made it 8-7 from the tee for the Lions but the Dragons were soon given a golden opportunity when Schoeman was dismissed.

It made no difference to the Lions’ ambition, though, which was magnificently illustrated when they attacked from behind their own line, wing Richard Kriel sprinted to halfway before Quan Horn finished off in style.

Nohamba converted, but Reed kept the Dragons in touch with a 39th-minute penalty that cut their interval deficit to 18-10.

The Dragons made a miserable start to the second period, seeing Roberts sin-binned for a deliberate trip, before their defence was unlocked when wing Rio Dyer slipped and Van der Merwe touched down, with Nohamba converting.

Flanagan’s side needed a quick response, and it arrived courtesy of Hewitt, who started and finished a flowing move, with Reed’s conversion bringing them back to striking distance, only for Nohamba to land another penalty.

And missed tackles led to the Lions claiming a bonus-point try when Kriel sent Van den Berg sprinting over and Nohamba again added the extras, before Roberts’ driving maul effort came to little, too late as Francke Horn and Van der Merwe completed the scoring.