Brad Weber scored a 78th-minute try as the Chiefs beat the Jaguares 30-26 in the first-ever Super Rugby match in Buenos Aires, writes MARIETTE ADAMS.
In a game never short of excitement, the Jaguares and the Chiefs treated the sellout crowd at the Vélez Sarsfield stadium to an exhibition of some outstanding tries.
Leading by two points in the 75th minute, the Chiefs looked set to come away with the log points, but victory wouldn’t come without a few twists. In a frenetic passage of play in the last five minutes, Matías Moroni scored a breakaway try to put the Jaguares in front only for Weber to hit back with an equally spectacular effort to clinch the match for the visitors.
The Jaguares were favourites to win this clash, but the Chiefs put up an almighty fight despite coming second at the set pieces for the bigger part of 80 minutes.
The hosts enjoyed a better share of possession, made more passes and offloaded more than the Chiefs, but handling errors due to their high-risk style of play, restricted them considerably. The Chiefs, on the other hand, took their opportunities well throughout the game.
Aaron Cruden and Nicolás Sánchez traded penalties early on, before an unconverted try either way levelled matters at 8-8. But then, from turnover possession, Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie spotted space in behind the Jaguares defence and put in a raking kick that rolled into touch. They pinched the ball at the lineout, spread it wide and McKenzie was at the end of the final pass to finish what he started.
Refusing to kick from deep, the Jaguares successfully ran the ball out of the danger zone, forcing the Chiefs’ scrambling defence to concede penalties, which Sánchez punished with two kicks at goal for a 14-13 lead at the break.
The Chiefs restarted brightly, scoring 10 unanswered points via a McKenzie goal kick and a magical counter-attacking try by winger James Lowe.
That put the Jaguares off their game a little as energy levels started to dip during the middle part of the half. But the home team’s halfback pairing combined for a converted try to bring them back within two points, which set up a terrific finish.
With the clock winding down, the Jaguares launched a brilliant attack from about 90m out to score a breakaway try of the highest quality. Unfortunately for them, the Chiefs showed the same tenacity and kept the ball alive in contact. Cruden then made a break down the left and sent Weber over the line for an easy finish to end an extraordinary match.
Jaguares – Try: Agustín Creevy, Martín Landajo, Matías Moroni. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez. Penalties: Sánchez (3).
Chiefs – Tries: Sam McNicol, Damian McKenzie, James Lowe, Brad Weber. Conversions: McKenzie (2). Penalties: Aaron Cruden, McKenzie.
Jaguares – 15 Jaoquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Roberto Tejerizo, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Matías Moroni.
Chiefs – Damian McKenzie, 14 Sam McNicol, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Johan Bardoul, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Subs: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Seta Tamanivalu, 23 Glen Fisiiahi.
Photo: Juan Mabromata/AFP Photo