The Jaguares head into Saturday’s contest at home to the Reds in Buenos Aires looking for a fourth win of the year.
That return would mark an excellent start to the year for the Argentine franchise who appear to finding their feet, having pushed the Stormers close before returning home and comfortably dispatching the Lions and the Cheetahs.
Partly those last two wins were down to the visitors bringing weakened sides to the Argentine capital, a mistake the Reds appear to have also made ahead of Saturday’s game.
Quade Cooper serves the first match of his suspension while Rob Simmons and George Smith are rested, which all means one things; advantage Jaguares.
Raul Pérez has always had talent to work with since the franchise joined in 2016 but now the Jaguares have plenty of Super Rugby experience, a quality squad looks even deeper – Julían Montoya, Javier Ortega Desío and Santiago González Iglesias do not even make the matchday 23 to face the Reds.
Against the Cheetahs they showcased more of the same brilliant offloading we have enjoyed from Argentina in recent years but combined with direct, bruising carries from Pablo Matera and Tomás Lezana setting the tone.
For a Reds defence that fell away like butter on the end of a hot knife against the Lions – see the ease of Courtnall Skosan’s first try last weekend – that is a major worry.
Pre-tournament hype around the Reds always felt a little misjudged and only the Sunwolves and Rebels have a worse tackle percentage than the Reds on 79.5. Missing one in every five tackles is a recipe for disaster.
Once again the Reds’ hopes in attack rest all or nothing on Samu Kerevi being at his stellar best to get them over the advantage line but the Wallaby cannot do it all on his own.
Exceptional work from the pack is also necessary to keep the Jaguares’ rolling maul at bay, which falls on Stephen Moore to set the tone as he leads the side for the first time since regular captain James Slipper was ruled out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.
Prediction: Given the Reds’ diminshed personnel and new-found confidence for the Jaguares, this one is only going one way. Jaguares to win by 12.
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Bautista Ezcurra, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Nicolás Sánchez, 23 Emiliano Boffelli
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Izaia Perese, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Adam Korczyk, 6 Leroy Houston, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 Markus Vanzati
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Hendrik Tui, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Lachie Maranta, 23 Chris Kuridrani
|March 25, 2017||11:40 pm||Super Rugby 2017||Vodacom Super Rugby 2017|
|Estadio José Amalfitani|
|Av. Reservistas Argentinos 231-285, Cdad. Autónoma de Buenos Aires, Argentina|