The Crusaders scored five tries to claim a 32-15 bonus-point win against the Jaguares in Christchurch on Friday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
It was the Saders' sixth consecutive victory this season, while Argentina's much-vaunted franchise has now lost six in a row.
The Jaguares made nine changes for this match, with a group of players who had been rested for the first part of this tour coming back into the starting XV. But that seemed to disrupt rather than revitalise them, especially among the backs, who failed to gel on attack.
The Jaguares had 56% of the possession, but it was the Crusaders who made their 44% count. The hosts also defended better, with the visitors missing 26 tackles, according to SARugbymag.co.za's Opta-powered stats.
The Crusaders came out firing, with Nemani Nadolo almost going over in the left-hand corner following a counter-attack that was launched from a poached lineout. Soon after, Ryan Crotty collected a pass from Israel Dagg, straightened the line and passed back inside to Dagg, who put Andy Ellis away for the opening try. After nine minutes, the Jaguares had already missed seven tackles.
The visitors got on the board through a Juan Martín Hernández penalty, only to be reduced to 14 men in the 22nd minute. Johnny McNicholl burst through the Jaguares defence and was brought down just short of the line by an excellent cover tackle by Emiliano Boffelli. But the next arriving man, Joaquín Tuculet, didn't allow McNicholl to release the ball and was sent to the sin bin.
It didn't take the Crusaders long to make their one-man advantage count when the ball went quickly through the hands to Dagg, who marked his return to Super Rugby with a try.
Soon after, Hernández knocked on and the loose ball was picked up by Ellis, who kicked ahead. Jerónimo de la Fuente won the race to the ball, but couldn't control it, with Richie Mo’unga going over for his side's third try.
No sooner had the Jaguares been restored to 15 men than they produced their best period of play. But after patiently taking the ball through 18 phases, they lost possession and the Crusaders were able to clear.
The hosts then blew a try-scoring opportunity themselves when Jordan Taufua knocked on after a counter-attack from a quick penalty tap inside Jaguares territory. But they were awarded a penalty as the half-time hooter sounded, which Mo’unga slotted to make it 22-3.
The Jaguares started the second half well only for Agustín Creevy to lose the ball over the tryline.
The Crusaders were then fortunate not to lose Ellis for 10 minutes when he took a swing at Guido Petti. But because the scrumhalf's punch didn't land on the lock, referee Craig Joubert only awarded a penalty. The Jaguares kicked for the corner, with Facundo Isa breaking away from the driving maul to score a try that Hernández converted from the touchline.
But the Saders responded with two tries in the space of three minutes that put the result beyond doubt. Quick hands saw Kieran Read go over in the left-hand corner and then another handling error from the Jaguares allowed Dagg to attack. The fullback beat a defender, handed off another and sprinted away to score his second try. Mo’unga missed both conversions, but at 32-10 it didn't matter.
The visitors continued to fight hard, though, and were rewarded late in the game when Santiago González Iglesias chased down Felipe Ezcurra's kick to score his side's second try.
Crusaders – Tries: Andy Ellis, Israel Dagg (2), Richie Mo’unga, Kieran Read. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2). Penalty: Mo’unga.
Jaguares – Tries: Facundo Isa, Felipe Ezcurra. Conversion: Juan Martín Hernández. Penalty: Hernández.
Crusaders – 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Subs: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Sean Wainui, 23 Ben Volavola.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 12 Santiago González Iglesias, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Juan Cruz Guillemaín, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquín Paz, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.
Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images