The Jaguares took down the Reds 34-23 in Brisbane on Saturday to consolidate their place at the summit of the South African conference standings.
The Argentinian franchise weren’t at their fluent best, but still produced a fine defensive display to come away with a result that will undoubtedly leave former Wallaby and current commentator Phil Kearns coming apart at the seams at the thought of the visitors now boasting a perfect six from six win record on Australian soil.
Earlier in the week, Kearns had suggested the Jaguares did not deserve a place in the competition due to their surfeit of Test players. They also conclude their tour of Australasia with three victories out of four matches.
On a more serious note, the bonus point result extends the Jaguares’ tally at the top of the South African conference table to seven log points. And although the deficit could change after the Sharks, Lions and Stormers’ play later today, the Jaguares are assured of top spot for at least another week.
The early stages of the contest were blighted with handling errors and ill-discpline, but the Reds ultimately struck the first blow when centre Chris Feauai-Sautia placed the ball over the line for the opening try.
The sides exchanged penalties as the Reds maintained their seven-point advantage, but there was a feeling that the Jaguares were not yet playing at their best. They slowing worked their way into the contest and as soon as they started to dominate the contact area, they scored.
The Jaguares’ forwards bullied the Reds as they worked their way down field before wing Santiago Carreras bagged his first-ever try with a well-executed chip and chase right on the touchline. A second try the way of the visitors put them in the lead for the first time. But Bryce Hegarty knocked over a late penalty to close the gap to 15-13 at the break.
Bryce Hegarty would knock over two penalties, one either side of the break, to put the hosts back in front by a point. But the Jaguares landed two telling blows with back-to-back tries. The Reds then scored late to set up a nervy final three minutes with the scores at 29-26. And it was within their reach to overturn the result when a poor clearance kick resulted in a counter-attack for the Reds with an overlap on the left side of the field.
But captain Samu Kerevi’s pop pass was brilliantly intercepted by the 21-year-old Carreras, who ran the length of the field for a try that gave the Jaguares maximum log points.
Reds – Tries: Chris Feauai-Sautia, Jock Campbell. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (2). Penalties: Hegarty (3).
Jaguares – Tries: Santiago Carreras (2), Felipe Ezcurra, Julián Montoya, Marcos Kremer. Conversions: Joaquín Díaz Bonilla (3). Penalty: Díaz Bonilla.
Reds – 15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi (c), 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10Matt McGahan, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Gav Luka, 19 Harry Hockings, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Scott Malolua, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Hamish Stewart.
Jaguares – 15 Juan Cruz Mallía, 14 Santiago Carreras, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Matías Orlando (c), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Felipe Ezcurra, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Guido Petti, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Lucas Paulos, 3 Lucio Sordoni, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Nahiel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 21 Pablo Matera, 22 Tomás Cubelli, 23 Jerónimo de le Fuente.