The Stormers beat the Jaguares 13-8 in Buenos Aires on Saturday to become the first South African Super Rugby side to win in Argentina. JON CARDINELLI reports.
There will be mixed feelings of elation and relief in the Stormers camp after a patchy performance in Buenos Aires. On the one hand, they will be pleased with a historic win in Argentina that consolidates their position at the top of the Africa 1 conference. On the other, they will lament the poor decision-making and finishing which allowed the Jaguares to remain in the contest.
Indeed, had the Jaguares converted all their attempts at goal, they would have won the match. Nicolás Sánchez took a blow to the head early on in the game, a blow that appeared to affect his accuracy with the boot and in general play. Sánchez missed two attempts at goal, while Santiago González Iglesias pushed a third shot wide. As a result, a total of eight points went begging.
The Stormers enjoyed a dream start to this match. They raced to a 13-3 lead after just 24 minutes. They had the advantage of an extra man during this period as Sánchez was serving 10 minutes for cynical play in the sin bin.
The visitors hammered the Jaguares at the scrum. They dominated the collisions and their defence appeared to be more than a match for the hosts' attack.
And yet the Stormers failed to use that platform to good effect. After scoring 13 points in the first 24 minutes, they scored zero in the next 56.
The Jaguares scored a try after the half-time hooter. Sánchez missed a relatively easy conversion attempt, but it appeared as if the momentum had shifted.
The Stormers continued to hang on in the second stanza. Their scrum was in fearsome form, and their defence held its shape. But the lineout wobbled in the absence of regular No 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, and the attack was equally rudderless.
Fortunately for the visitors, the Jaguares were just as poor on attack. They enjoyed a surfeit of possession, but spent much of the contest behind the gainline.
The Jaguares had two opportunities to snatch an unlikely victory late in the contest. Sánchez missed another easy goal attempt in the 61st minute. Iglesias had a chance to reduce the deficit 10 minutes later, but missed from right in front.
The Stormers will be thrilled with the result if not the performance. They have banked an important away win ahead of their bye next week.
The Jaguares will regret the dire quality of their scrummaging and goal-kicking. They did not play well on the night, but may have claimed a famous win if they had simply converted their chances on goal.
Jaguares – Try: Jerónimo de la Fuente. Penalty: Nicolás Sánchez.
Stormers – Try: Cheslin Kolbe. Conversion: Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Coleman (2).
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Subs: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Roberto Tejerizo, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Santiago Cordero.
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Huw Jones.
Photo: Gabriel Rossi/STF