The Jaguares scored 15 unanswered second-half points to beat the Blues 20-13 in Auckland on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was the Argentinian team’s first win against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby, and their third consecutive victory on tour, having also beaten the Rebels and Brumbies.
The Blues came into the match having already lost twice at home and started nervously as their set-piece malfunctioned and they struggled to exit their half. The visitors used the driving maul to good effect, as first Akira Ioane was yellow-carded for collapsing, and then Agustín Creevy went over after a strong maul.
The hosts recomposed themselves and hit back minutes later when Tumua Manu was found in space out wide and dived over in the corner to level the scores.
After surviving another onslaught on their line, the Blues worked their way downfield, eventually seeing Matt Duffie reach over to extend their lead.
Stephen Perofeta kicked a penalty to bring the Blues beyond a converted try, but the home side was then made to sweat as the Jaguares launched a late surge on their tryline, lasting well beyond the half-time mark. The hosts, though, were able to weather the storm and go into the break 13-5 ahead.
The second half was a completely different matter, as the Jaguares took control and scored two quick tries to take the game away from the home side.
First, after hammering away at the Blues’ defensive line for well over 10 minutes, some good handling saw wing Emiliano Boffelli go over out wide.
Minutes later, the Argentinians got themselves in front as Tomás Lezana ran a great line onto a pass from Martin Landajo and powered over the line. Nicolás Sánchez then took his side to a seven-point lead with a penalty.
The Blues tried to stage a comeback in the final 10 minutes, but a struggling lineout and some poor handling allowed the Jaguares to celebrate a hard-earned win.
Blues – Tries: Tumua Manu, Matt Duffie. Penalty: Stephen Perofeta
Jaguares – Try: Agustín Creevy, Emiliano Boffelli, Tomás Lezana. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalty: Sánchez.
Blues – 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Jordan Hyland, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Rieko Ioane, 11 Tumua Manu, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Dalton Papalii, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Subs: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Lyndon Dunshea, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Terrence Hepetema
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet (c), 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de le Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Javier Díaz, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Bautista Ezcurra, 23 Sebastián Cancelliere.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images