Buenos Aires — Argentina’s Jaguares recovered from a poor display last weekend to beat the Lions 49-35, winning the try count 6-5 in a pulsating Super Rugby match at Velez Sarsfield on Saturday.
The Argentine side, looking for their second win in their sixth outing, got off to a perfect start with a try after one minute by wing Bautista Delguy.
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, having converted, increased their lead to 10 points after a penalty 10 minutes later.
The Lions, runners-up in the tournament last season, hit back with two tries during a dominant spell midway through the first half, lock Marvin Orie going over from a maul following a lineout. Wing Sylvian Mahuza put the Lions ahead three minutes later with a try and Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies kicked his second of five conversions, but the end of the half belonged to the Jaguares.
Emiliano Boffelli, one of three players to score twice, went over in the corner, his try awarded after confirmation from the TMO, and Sanchez missed the conversion but later put over a penalty for a high tackle. The Jaguares were in control again and a fine passing movement led to No8 Javier Ortega Desio going over in the corner with Sanchez’s conversion putting the home side 25-14 ahead at the interval.
Ten minutes into the second half, Boffelli scored again and the Jaguares went 18 points clear.
The Lions quickly fought their way back to within four points with another strong spell midway in the second half.
Replacement forwards Malcolm Marx and Lourens Erasmus went over in the space of six minutes, the first from a maul after a lineout, the second the result of a 14-phase build-up.
Jaguares centre Bautista Ezcurra then darted through a gap in the visiting defence to dampen the Lions, but Marx again scored a try from the visitors’ best weapon, their forwards’ rolling maul.
It was then Ortega Desio’s turn to score a second try, Sanchez’s pass sending him through before the Argentina flyhalf kicked his third penalty to keep his side 14 points clear with five minutes remaining and take his tally to 19.
The Lions made handling errors as they tried to get back into the match and the Jaguares held out for victory.
The Argentine side, who lost 18-7 to the Reds last weekend and impressed in beating the Waratahs 38-28 two weeks ago, are now level with the Lions on three home wins and three away defeats.