The Stormers lost further ground in the South African conference after slipping to a 30-25 defeat against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
While the result moves the Jaguares within a point of the Vodacom Bulls and Sharks at the summit of the log, the Stormers are now five points behind the Pretoria-based side, who lead the way thanks to superior points differential.
The Jaguares have now won their last four matches in succession, including their last three inter-conference clashes against South African opposition, to reinforce their status as dark horses to reach the playoffs.
As for the Stormers, they were dealt an early blow in this match when wing Sergeal Petersen had to be replaced by Seabelo Senatla after suffering an injury, and it went downhill from there.
The Stormers’ coaching staff probably held their collective breath when the game also had to be stopped twice in the first half to allow medics to attend to injury concerns to Damian Willemse. To make matters worse, they conceded a penalty try and a yellow card late in the second stanza.
In an ill-tempered first half during which a combined total of 13 penalties were conceded, the Stormers did well defensively to curb the Jaguares’ probing, but the Cape-side was – as usual – static on attack, and did little to test the hosts’ defence in return.
The Jaguares had opened the scoring in the third minute after Domingo Miotti’s perfectly-timed inside-pop pass to Emiliano Boffelli shredded the Stormers defence, before the impressive Pablo Matera was fed on the outside to score unopposed. Miotti then kicked them into a 10-point lead with the conversion and a penalty.
Surprisingly, it was the Stormers’ scrum that got them right back into the contest. They won a couple of penalties at the set-piece against prop Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis converted them into points. But the Stormers conceded a penalty on the stroke of half-time to trail 13-9.
The arm-wrestle morphed into the second half, which became a battle of the boots between Miotti and Stormers duo Du Plessis and Willemse. A fourth penalty that went the way of the hosts, closed the deficit to a point, but every time the Stormers built up a little bit of momentum, their rhythm was broken by an inspired moment from the Jaguares.
This was the case then wing Ramiro Moyano finished off in the corner after some quality ball retention and soft hands in the lead-up.
When Du Plessis was subbed and Willemse moved to flyhalf and took over the kicking duties, the Bok slotted two penalties bring them within two points. But, as they done throughout the game, the Jaguares found a way reinstate their advantage.
Miotti maintained his flawless kicking display with a fourth penalty and then JJ Engelbrecht was carded for a deliberate slap down, resulting in a penalty try for the Jaguares.
Despite the lack of high-quality action earlier in the match, the drama sure came thick and fast in the last 10 minutes as the Stormers again clawed their way back within striking distance via a try from Senatla, to set up an intriguing finale.
With the clock well into stoppage time, the Jaguares were under pressure to see out the match, but they conceded several penalties, allowing the Stormers an attacking lineout feed 5m from the tryline.
But in disappointing fashion for Robbie Fleck’s men, hooker Scarra Ntubeni failed to find his jumpers as the Jaguares contested the lineout and came away with possession, kicked it into touch and sealed the win.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) May 4, 2019
Jaguares – Tries: Pablo Matera, Ramiro Moyano, Penalty try. Conversions: Domingo Miotti (2), Automatic conversion. Penalties: Miotti (3).
Stormers – Try: Seabelo Senatla. Conversion: Damian Willemse. Penalties: Jean-Luc du Plessis (4), Willemse (2).
Jaguares – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Tomás Lezana, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Mayco Vivas, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Rodrigo Bruni, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Bautista Ezcurra, 23 Sebastián Cancelliere.
Stormers – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Seabelo Senatla.