The Jaguares overturned a 13-point deficit to secure a 32-29 win over the Rebels on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
In the end, the Jaguares have finished their season on a winning note and ensured that they will remain in third place in the Africa 2 conference, despite producing a performance that was far from compelling in Melbourne.
The side from Argentina trailed by 13 points early on, and by nine at the break, but a much-improved second-half performance ultimately enabled them to come away with the expected end result.
For both teams, it’s been a season to forget, with the Jaguares having managed only six wins, while the Rebels have clinched just the solitary victory.
At various times this season, the Jaguares’ discipline has left a lot to be desired, and it came back to haunt them early on, with the visitors conceding five penalties in the opening quarter.
That ill-discipline enabled Rebels goal-kicker Reece Hodge to seamlessly open up a 9-3 lead, while the centre then helped create and finish a beautiful set-play try in the 25th minute to send the Rebels into a commanding 16-3 lead.
This was effectively cancelled out when Santiago Cordero went over to score soon after for the Jaguares, but Hodge would convert his fourth penalty before half-time to ensure the hosts took a handy nine-point lead into the break.
Although Sánchez drew three points back for the Jaguares when he struck a 47th-minute penalty, Hodge stepped up to restore the Rebels’ nine-point buffer as he slotted a superb long-distance penalty to take his personal points tally to 22.
However, the complexion of the clash completely changed from there. The Jaguares quickly came roaring back into the game when some poor handling from the Rebels gifted the visitors a turnover try that was finished off by big lock Guido Pettie just before the hour mark.
It signalled a sudden shift in momentum as the Rebels were then punished for more meek defence, with Jaguares replacement Gonzalo Bertranou darting over to score and send his side into the lead for the first time in the match, with 15 minutes to play.
A deflated Rebels side had no hope from that point, and when Cordero wrapped up his second try in the 71st minute, the game was as good as won.
While the hosts would score a late consolation try to Steve Cummins, the Rebels ultimately slumped to a 13th loss of the season.
Rebels – Tries: Reece Hodge, Steve Cummins. Conversions: Hodge, Ben Meehan. Penalties: Hodge (5).
Jaguares – Tries: Santiago Cordero (2), Guido Pettie, Gonzalo Bertranou. Conversions: Nicolás Sánchez (3). Penalties: Sánchez (2).
Rebels – 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Tom English, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi 7 Colby Fainga’a 6 Sean McMahon 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Jordan Uelese, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Fereti Sa’aga, 19 Esei Haangana,, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Semisi Tupou.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Báez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Benjamin Macome, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Ramiro Herrera, 18 Lucas Noguera, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Juan Cruz Guillemain, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images