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Super Rugby: Jaguares play-off surge a good omen for Los Pumas

Jaguares - Pablo Matera

The Jaguares opened up a four-point gap at the top of the South African Conference as they reduced the Waratahs play-off hopes to dust, winning 23-15.

Some  describe the Argentinian franchise as a proxy for Los Pumas, and they have certainly become formidable, racking up their sixth victory out of their last seven in Sydney.

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson said that playing the Jaguares was akin to playing Argentina themselves, as the visitors quickly stamped their authority in the first quarter of play.

Coming into the match high from victory over the Hurricanes, the Jaguares exerted themselves in the Tahs half by keeping ball in hand and forcing the host’s tackle count to rise over 80 before the half-hour mark.

That pressure told as 30-Test winger Ramiro Moyano bagged the first of his two tries.

Scrambling a sturdy Waratahs defence, the Jaguares quickly recycled the ball out wide to the left wing where captain Jeronimo de la Fuente grubbered through for Moyano to dot down.

Bernard Foley and Domingo Miotti then exchanged penalty kicks as the first half ended 10-3.

Despite the Tahs looking sharper after the restart, Moyano rubbed more salt into their wounds  with his team’s second try on 48 minutes.

Pablo Matera then gave the hosts an opening to get back into the match as he dragged down a maul which was rumbling towards the Jaguares try-line.

With the openside sent to the bin for ten minutes, opposite number Michael Hooper embraced the one-man advantage. The Wallabies star drew two defenders  before offloading to replacement Curtis Rona to cross over in the corner.

At 17-15, the Jaguares remained in front but only just.

Heroics were dreamt of by a home crowd throbbing with anticipation of a comeback but that would not become reality, as the Jaguares showed their international class to lockdown the Tahs attack and go on to deny the hosts even a losing-bonus point with Joaquin Diaz-Bonilla slotting two penalties.

Super Rugby - Melbourne Rebels fly-half Quade Cooper
TOKYO, JAPAN – MAY 25: Quade Cooper of the Rebels is tackled during the Super Rugby match between Sunwolves and rebels at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on May 25, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Toru Hanai/Getty Images)

The Sunwolves appear devoid of any of the momentum which saw them run the Waratahs and Reds close to defeat earlier in the season.

The struggling Japanese side were crushed by the Rebels 52-7 one day after a 4.6 magnitude earthquake rattled structures in Tokyo.

With the Sunwolves shaky in defence, the Rebels breezed to an eight-try triumph with contributions from Wallabies contingent Marika Koroibete, Jack Maddocks and Dane Haylett-Petty.

A 34-22 win over the Highlanders for the Stormers keeps the South African Conference the most tightly-contested in Super Rugby.

The Lions were left to rue conceding two intercept tries to the Sharks as they went down 27-17 in Durban.

 Curwin Bosch and Makazole Mapimpi ran in tries from long range in a vital win for the Sharks.

Calls for scrum-half Herschel Jantjies to become a Springbok are only going to grow in stature after his opening try snagged the Stormers all five points.

Richie Mo’unga put behind him off-field controversies to kick the Crusaders to a 19-11 win over the Blues.

In a victory which puts the Crusaders 13 points clear at the top of the standings with nearest rivals Hurricanes having only a possible 15 points remaining, the no.1 seeds look locked up in Christchurch.

“It wasn’t pretty at times,” Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said.

 “We beat the Blues earlier in the year and it was tough, and this game was no different.”

Tevita Kuridrani gave Michael Cheika a timely reminder of his talents as he ran in a hat-trick in the Brumbies 22-10 win over the Bulls.

The destructive centre looked full value in delivering the Brumbies a bonus-point victory by outscoring their opponents by four tries to one, as debutant centre Irae Simone also bagged a score.

A three-match losing streak has seen the Reds march towards the play-offs halted in their tracks and this time the the Chiefs ran out 19-13 winners in Hamilton.

Pita Gus Sowakula, Atunaisa Moli and Etene Nani-Seturo were all on hand to score the Chiefs’ three first-half tries.

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