The Jaguares beat the more-fancied Chiefs 23-19 in Rotorua on Friday to win their fourth successive match in Australasia. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Take a bow, coach Mario Ledesma. Take a bow, captain Joaquín Tuculet. Take a bow, a Jaguares team that has defied expectations – and in some instances, the odds – to win two out of two on the New Zealand leg of their four-game tour.
The Jaguares were expected to falter in this clash against the Chiefs. At the end of a long and testing tour, on which they had already made history by securing a first-ever win on New Zealand soil, many felt that they would want for motivation and perhaps a bit of intensity in Rotorua.
The Jaguares set the tone early on with an aggressive defensive display. The visitors kept the Chiefs tryless for the duration of the first half. Damian McKenzie kicked four penalties to ensure that his side took a slender 12-10 lead into the second stanza.
The Jaguares regained the lead soon after the restart thanks to a Nicolás Sánchez penalty. The visitors then continued to dominate the collisions. The hosts, meanwhile, played into the Jaguares’ hands with an ill-disciplined and inaccurate performance.
The Chiefs lost two players to the sin bin in the space of two minutes. Lock Michael Allardice was shown a yellow card for a reckless challenge in the 50th minute. The Jaguares were awarded a penalty try shortly after that, and Liam Messam – the offender in question – joined Allardice in the cooler.
That penalty try boosted the Jaguares into an important 20-12 lead. It was all the Chiefs could do to limit the damage in the subsequent 10 minutes and keep their slim hopes of a late comeback alive.
The Jaguares showed signs of tiring in the latter stages. Matias Orlando produced a shocking clearance attempt in the 64th minute, and the Chiefs responded with what appeared to be a try by Charlie Ngatai.
The officials consulted with the TMO, and it was found that replacement hooker Nathan Harris had knocked the ball on in the buildup. The Jaguares were let off the hook.
That mistake served as a wake-up call. The Jaguares, boosted by the likes of Agustín Creevy coming off the bench, endeavoured to play the game deep in the Chiefs’ half. Sánchez converted another penalty attempt to leave the Chiefs needing two converted tries in the remaining eight minutes.
The Chiefs scored a try – their first of the evening – after the final hooter to earn a losing bonus point. The Argentinians held on to secure a big win in the context of their tour and season.
The result sees the Jaguares strengthening their position – second, at this stage – in the South African conference.
Chiefs – Try: Jesse Parete. Conversion: Damian McKenzie. Penalties: McKenzie (4).
Jaguares – Try: Ramiro Moyano, penalty try. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalties: Emiliano Boffelli, Sánchez (2).
Chiefs – 15 Charlie Ngatai (cc), 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Alex Nankivell, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Liam Polwart, 1 Karl Tu’inukuafe.
Subs: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Pita Gus Sowakula, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Levi Aumua.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Tomas Lezana, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Subs: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Javier Manuel Diaz, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images