The Argentina Jaguares have defeated the New South Wales Waratahs 23-15 at Bankwest Stadium in Western Sydney.
The Waratahs defeated their old rivals, the Reds, last week 40-32 and were returning home after a tough road trip. The Jaguares had beaten the Hurricanes for the first time in their history last week, holding on for an eight-point victory in Wellington.
The match started off in cruel fashion, with Karmichael Hunt forced off the field inside two minutes. Marcos Kremer fell on his left leg during a ruck and the inside centre was assisted off the field. It was then brought to light that he has probably done his MCL, likely ruling him out for six to eight weeks.
The Waratahs had to absorb a lot of pressure early as the Jaguares worked phase after phase in the ‘Tahs half. The deadlock was eventually broken when a grubber kick bounced kindly for the visitors.
Tomas Cubelli got a wrap-around ball from the ruck and passed it to Jeronimo de la Fuente. De la Fuente saw space in behind and knocked a grubber kick in behind Waratahs’ right-winger, Alex Newsome.
Ramiro Moyano outpaced Newsome and collected the kick to dive for the Argentinians. The twenty-three-year-old, Domingo Miotti, made no mistake with the conversion to put the visitors up by seven points just before half an hour through the match.
Off the kick-off, the Jaguares again burst over the halfway line and progressed deep into the ‘Tahs ‘red-zone’. It seemed a try was certain in the right-hand corner but Lalakai Foketi (who replaced Hunt) managed to grab hold of the ball in the form of an intercept to prevent the try.
At the thirty minute mark, the Jaguares had held the ball for 73 per cent of the match, consistently placing the Waratahs defence under pressure.
But the Waratahs forced their way back and earnt a penalty twenty metres out from the try line for hands in the ruck. They opted to take the points and Bernard Foley reduced the margin to four points.
Unfortunately for the home side, just two minutes later Foketi was adjudged to be offside and the Jaguares returned fire in the form of a penalty kick. Miotti was successful once again from the kicking tee and the score at halftime stayed at 10-3 in favour of the away side.
The second half saw the Jaguares continue to extend their lead.
The Jaguares were on the front foot in the ‘Tahs half and as they spread the ball through the hands, Moyano found himself free on the left wing. Kurtley Beale looked to cut him off but a poor tackle attempt saw him slip off and Moyano ran in for his second of the night. Miotti’s conversion made the score 17-3.
The match was starting to run away from the home side and they needed to strike next. The broke through the line a few times but couldn’t add the finishing touches. One attempt saw Nick Phipps score, only for a TMO review to find that Foketi had placed his heel in touch prior to him making an offload in the lead-up to the try.
The pressure eventually paid off though from the back of a lineout maul.
A maul was mounted from the set-piece and the Waratahs rumbled towards the line. The Jaguares seemed to have repelled it inches from the line but referee, Paul Williams, awarded a penalty try to the Waratahs and a yellow card to Pablo Matera for collapsing the maul.
The Waratahs pressed again after some Beale magic released Michael Wells through the line. An eventual Sekope Kepu knock-on put an end to a promising attacking venture.
But they found a way as they reduced the margin the two points.
In the Jaguares’ 22, it was scrappy as the Jaguares defensive line pushed up to try and shut down the Waratahs’ attacking opportunities. A bounce pass fumbled out towards the left wing but an excellent pick-up from Michael Hooper saw the play continue. He handed it off to Curtis Rona who was able to skip through for an important try. Foley’s conversion miss saw the score remain at 17-15 with the visitors ahead.
The Jaguares managed to squeeze a penalty out of the ‘Tahs for not rolling away and replacement flyhalf, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, knocked over the three points to improve their lead to five points with less than ten minutes to play.
After the siren, the Waratahs were required to run the length of the field to win the match but were pinged by the referee for not releasing the ball. To rub salt into the Waratahs’ wounds, Diaz Bonilla scored another three points off his own boot to deny the ‘Tahs a losing bonus-point. The score 23-15 to the Jaguares.
The loss makes the Waratahs’ chance for a finals’ berth even more difficult now after a promising win over the Reds last week. They have two Aussie derbies in the next two weeks where they will take on the Rebels and the Brumbies.
The Jaguares have now beaten the men from New South Wales for the third time in three attempts. They now travel up to Brisbane to take on the Reds, who will be hurting after a tight loss to the Chiefs on Friday night.