Kings brace for Jaguares’ backlash

The Jaguares will be desperate to restore some pride against the Kings in Buenos Aires on Saturday, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.

Argentina were the fourth best team at last year's World Cup. Yet, in the guise of the Jaguares, they have been able to win just one match out of eight in their debut Super Rugby season.

Agustín Creevy's men hit rock bottom last weekend when they became the first team to lose to the Sunwolves. The Japanese franchise had been humiliated 92-14 in Bloemfontein before making the 13,500km trip back to Tokyo, yet were able to beat a Jaguares side packed with Pumas Test players.

However, the Jaguares will have a golden opportunity to end their seven-match losing streak when they take on the Kings, who have also only won a single match this season (against the Sunwolves). The Argentinian franchise has played just two home matches so far in 2016, losing both narrowly (30-26 to the Chiefs and 13-8 to the Stormers).

The Jaguares, on paper, should be too good for a Kings team that has tended to be competitive in the first half of matches, before falling away in the second. That was the case again last weekend against the Lions. They trailed just 7-5 after half an hour but went on to lose 45-10.

The challenge for the Kings on Saturday is to play for the full 80 minutes, otherwise the Jaguares could literally run away with the game.

Jaguares coach Raul Pérez has responded to the defeat to the Sunwolves by making 12 changes to his side. Hooker Agustín Creevy, lock Matías Alemanno and Juan Martín Hernández, who moves from flyhalf to inside centre, are the only survivors.

Kings coach Deon Davids has made seven changes to his starting XV, including a new halfback combination in Ntando Kebe and Elgar Watts.

This is the teams' first meeting.

– The Jaguares’ solitary Super Rugby win so far came against a South African side in round one (Cheetahs); in their other two games against South African teams they have kept them to fewer than 20 points (lost two).
– The Kings have conceded an average of 47.3 points per game in their last six matches against teams from outside South Africa.
– The Kings have scored 64.3% (9/14) of their tries in the first half, the highest percentage of any team in the competition.
– Guido Petti Pagadizábal has won 37 lineouts so far this season, the equal second of any player, though he is yet to steal one.
Source: Opta

Team Top point-scorer Top try-scorer Most metres gained Most tackles
Jaguares Nicolás Sánchez (42) Martín Landajo (4) Santiago Cordero (266) Pablo Matera (59)
Kings Louis Fouché (57) Edgard Marutlulle, Chris Cloete (3) Shane Gates (253) CJ Velleman (80)

Jaguares – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Jerónimo De La Fuente, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Kings – 15 Jaco Van Tonder, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates (VC), 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 CJ Velleman, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5. JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 James Hall, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Leighton Eksteen.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Juan Sylvestre (Argentina)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)

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Photo: Toru Yamanaka/AFP Photo

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