Marnus Schoeman scored a hat-trick as the Lions claimed a 25-16 win over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The win was the Lions’ first in Argentina, having lost their previous three games there between 2016 and 2018.
The visitors did well for a two-point half-time lead, considering their historic struggles with this fixture. They could have been further ahead at the break but for a few errors near the Jaguares’ tryline.
While they were not at their free-flowing attacking best, the Lions showed a solid defensive backbone, especially in the second half when they had a few nail-biting moments on their own line.
Carlu Sadie enjoyed a memorable Lions debut, putting in a good shift at the scrum while also winning a couple of turnover penalties in the first half that allowed the away side to turn defence into attack.
The Jaguares, meanwhile, let themselves down at times with some typical ill-discipline, which allowed the Lions to set their mauls, from which they threatened throughout the match.
The Lions started on the offensive, showing their ambition after winning a couple of early penalties and immediately opting for attacking lineouts. It was from the second lineout that flank Marnus Schoeman crossed for the opening try.
However, the Jaguares managed to put some pressure of their own onto the visitors, especially through the high ball and some well-timed rush defence. The hosts cut the deficit through a penalty from Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, who has replaced long-time incumbent Nicolás Sánchez.
A strong run from Ramiro Moyano brought the Jaguares close to the Lions’ tryline, before big tighthead Santiago Medrano ran onto an offload by captain Augustin Creevy to bash his way over the line to put the home side into the lead.
Bonilla and Elton Jantjies then traded penalties and the Lions levelled the scores when they took a tighthead from a 5m scrum and Schoeman was able to snipe over for his second. Jantjies’ conversion put the Lions ahead at the break.
The Lions picked up where they left off in the second half, and after surviving a massive Jaguares maul which went over 20m, formed one of their own to eventually see Schoeman cross for his hat-trick.
The Jaguares again cut down the lead through Bonilla’s third penalty, which made it a six-point game going into the final quarter.
Jantjies had to produce a try-saving tackle as the Jaguares thought they had a potential match-winning try, but replays showed they had lost the ball forward over the line. The Bok flyhalf then importantly nailed his second penalty to take the Lions to a two-score advantage.
The home side went for the jugular in the closing stages of the match, but some key defensive interventions, particularly from turnover kingpin Malcolm Marx and captain Warren Whiteley, saw the Lions hold on for the win.
Jaguares – Try: Santiago Medrano. Conversion: Joaquin Diaz Bonilla. Penalties: Bonilla (3).
Lions – Tries: Marnus Schoeman (3). Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de le Fuente (c), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Rodrigo Bruni, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Mayo Vivas.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 Martín Landajo, 22 Juan Cruz Mallía, 23 Matías Moroni.
Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyanti, 10 Elton Jantjies 9 Nic Groom, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Subs: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Ruan Vermaak, 20 Robert Kruger, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Wandisile Simelane, 23 Ruan Combrinck.
Photo: Alejandro Pagni/AFP