AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Argentina’s Jaguares rallied from 13-5 down at halftime to beat the Auckland-based Blues 20-13 in Super Rugby on Saturday for their first-ever win over a New Zealand team.
The Jaguares won in New Zealand with a forward performance which wrecked the Blues’ scrum, damaged their lineout and allowed them to overwhelmingly dominate territory and possession in a rain-soaked match. They also received twice as many penalties as the indisciplined Blues but took time to turn all those advantages into a historic win.
The Jaguares scored an early try through captain Agustin Creevy when the Blues lost backrower Akira Ioane to the sin-bin for a professional foul.
The Blues also scored when Ioane was absent to make the score 5-5, then led with a try to fullback Matt Duffie.
The Jaguares gradually translated set-piece dominance into greater control around the field, holding the ball through long series of phases to score a try to winger Emiliano Boffelli — his ninth of the season — before taking the lead in the 62nd minute with a try to Tomas Lezana.
They then held out the Blues’ attempted comeback to post their third straight win in Australia and New Zealand after earlier beating the Melbourne Rebels and ACT Brumbies.
“We are very happy,” captain Joaquin Tuculet said. “We worked very hard this week, we knew they had a tough team but we played well and won the game.
“I thought the forwards were amazing, the scrum was very good so I think the win was for them.”
The Blues slumped to their seventh defeat in nine games.
“I think you have to look at the set piece,” Auckland captain James Parsons said. “Numbers one to five in these conditions have to step up and I thought we did well in the first 40 minutes but there were just too many errors in the second half.”
The Queensland Reds snapped an embarrassing run of losses by Australian teams to overseas opponents when they beat last year’s finalist the Lions 27-22.
All four Australian teams were beaten by foreign rivals in last weekend’s 10th round, and the 11th round began in similar fashion when the Melbourne Rebels lost 34-18 to the Stormers in Cape Town.
But the Reds, the Australian team least expected to end the streak after losing its last four games, put a stop to the Lions’ mid-season form improvement.
Their first try came after only two minutes to prop Jean-Pierre Smith from a rolling maul and they scored three more, to backrower Caleb Timu, hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa and veteran flanker George Smith, to lead 24-0 at halftime.
An early second-half penalty made the lead 27-0 and the Reds were well-placed to resist an inevitable Lions rally. The Johannesburg-based team hit back with two tries to Malcolm Marx — his third double of the season — to make the score 27-12 after 62 minutes and added two more tries to Marnus Schoeman.
“I guess it was a surprise for some after last week (when the Reds lost 36-12 at home to the Hamilton-based Chiefs) but it wasn’t a surprise for us because of the hard work we’ve been doing,” Reds captain Samu Kerevi said. “We knew we could put out a performance like that.”
The Lions entered the match in strong form after back-to-back wins over the Stormers and Waratahs but were unable to assert themselves early Saturday against a strong Reds defence.
“I don’t think there was complacency, I think they wanted it more than us,” Lions captain Francois Mostert said.
On Friday, the Rebels conceded a series of firsthalf penalties to fall behind the Stormers in Cape Town, eventually suffering their fourth straight loss.
Coach Dave Wessels said the Rebels’ indiscipline and poor execution at set pieces cost them dearly.
“It’s been a perpetual problem right through the whole season,” he said. “And it’s not skill errors…it’s just lazy stuff like not getting back onside.
“I think we gave away seven or eight penalties in the first half and, statistically, if you give away more than 10 penalties in a Super Rugby game, you’re going to battle to win that game.”