Wing Ramiro Moyano scored a brace as the Jaguares defeated the Blues 23-19 in Buenos Aires on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
It was the Argentinian team’s second win on the trot and takes them up to third in the South African conference. They are renowned for their attacking brand of rugby, but this was a different kind of Jaguares victory, one sprung from excellent defence which saw them make 173 tackles.
The Blues came into the match desperate for a win, having already lost their opening two matches. And they played like a side possessed. Bar one lineout malfunction in the first half and two crucial scrums that went against their feed, they dominated the match and yet everything they threw at the Jaguares was repelled by the hosts’ stubborn defence.
Both sides started the game tentatively, resulting in flyhalves Otere Black and Joaquín Díaz Bonilla trading penalties twice as the scores remained locked at 6-6. The Jaguares suffered a big blow 20 minutes into the contest when hooker Agustin Creevy was forced off with a rib injury.
In an exhaustive and breathless period of play, the Blues kept the Jaguares pinned in their half and continued hammering away at the line. But the hosts somehow ripped the ball away and Bonilla produced a booming clearance kick that went out around the halfway line.
Frustrated with their inability to break down the Jaguares, the Blues opted to kick at goal thrice – the third time when the Jaguares were down to 14 – but Black was successful with only one of his attempts.
It didn’t take long for the Jaguares to hit the front when a poor clearance kick by the Blues was shifted to Moyano in midfield and the wing exploited the space out on the left to go in untouched.
Trailing by two at the break, the Blues made a good start to the second half as they immediately attacked from the restart. Prop Ofa Tuungafasi barged over from close range and the try was initially awarded, but to the Blues frustration the decision was overturned because the TMO confirmed the ball was held up. But they did regain the lead with another Black penalty.
After surviving another onslaught on their line, the Jaguares worked their way out of the danger zone and then from nothing, Moyano broke down the blind side, cut in-field and stepped around the cover defender to score. And when replacement hooker Julián Montoya powered over minutes later, it appeared the Jaguares were well on their way to a win.
And while that was the case, there would be more drama before the result was confirmed.
Flank Dalton Papalii scored a breakaway try to bring the Blues within four in the 73rd minute.
In a grandstand finish, the visitors went all out as they sought a match-winning try. They bashed away at the line, but a long sequence of play ended in a knock-on. But the Blues’ eight-man shove on the Jaguares’ feed forced the referee to award them a penalty.
With the clock already well into stoppage time, they opted for a scrum of their own, but the this time the Jaguares won a tighthead and hoofed the ball clear, much to their own relief and the crowd’s delight.
Jaguares – Tries Ramiro Moyano (2), Julián Montoya. Conversion: Joaquín Díaz Bonilla. Penalties: Bonilla (2).
Blues – Try: Dalton Papalii. Conversion: Otere Black. Penalties: Black (4).
Jaguares – 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Matías Orlando (c), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Joaquín Tuculet.
Blues – 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tanielu Tele’a, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (c), 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Subs: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.