Noble Rebels fall short against improving Jaguares

Geoff Parkes Columnist

By , Geoff Parkes is a Roar Expert

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    The Jaguares have finished their 2017 Super Rugby season – and their Australian tour – on a high, claiming a 32-29 win against a brave Rebels side in Melbourne.

    In a season that promised so much early on, the Jaguares fell away mid season, to drop out of finals contention. However they have finished off the season in fine style, winning the first ever encounter between these sides.

    The Rebels came out keen to move the ball early and had much the better of the first half, Reece Hodge keeping the scoreboard ticking over, as well as adding a sparkling try in the 25th minute. It was something local fans had seen too little of this season, Nic Stirzaker working a set move off a scrum with impressive full back Jack Maddocks, who sent Hodge racing away for the score.

    The Rebels could have been further ahead at the break, if not for their Achilles heel this year, the attacking lineout, letting them down when in scoring positions. Failure to maintain pressure in the attacking 22 and come away with points, is a killer at this level.

    To their credit the Jaguars stayed in contact, and then ramped things up in the third quarter, both in defence and attack. A series of tries came on the left hand flank, plus one on the right, after a pinpoint kick pass from the experienced Juan Martin Hernandez.

    Their defensive line got stronger as the match progressed, and by the time the substitutions came on, the Rebels had run out of ideas.

    The Rebels will wonder how they fell away so much in the second half, the only highlights being a spectacular 55m penalty to Hodge and a try after the siren to the hardworking Steve Cummins. Unfortunately they were unable to get the ball to Marieke Koroibete, who looked thirsty for more work.

    The biggest cheer was reserved for Amanaki Mafi, as he was replaced, the Rebels’ player of the season once again into everything. Outgoing coach Tony McGahan gave Mafi a huge wrap after the match; every bit of it fully deserved for a player

    Full credit however to the Jaguares, who win successive games on the road for the first time, and who finish the season full of promise for another step up the competition ladder next year.

    Perhaps the off season will allow them to do more work on the discipline. It was poor again in the first half tonight, although Angus Gardner leniently kept his cards in his pocket.

    As for the Rebels, their next moves will come via the boardrooms and legal offices. Hopefully the single, lame firework that marked the end of the match isn’t a sign of things to come! But at least the 6,250 fans who showed up tonight will have taken good heart from a spirited effort from their side, even if the season hasn’t quite worked out as planned.

    Final score
    Jaguares 32
    Rebels 29

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy is due for release in November. Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.