The Cell C Sharks could not contain a fired up Jaguares team in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Estadio Jose Amalfitani, losing 29-13 in a physical match, where we struggled to gain ascendency.
The opening exchanges were hugely competitive, neither side able to score any points but certainly applying pressure with the home side, their crowd behind them, probably enjoying the majority of possession, but unable to deal with the defensive pressure from the Cell C Sharks.
It took until the 12th minute of the game for the first points to be scored, the Jaguares kicking a scrum penalty to take a 3-nil lead. It appeared to be a slow-paced game, almost a test match as the sides hammered away at each other in a stop-start half filled with frustrations from both sides.
Two penalties, one from well inside our half, couldn’t add to the scoreboard and instead it was the home side who strung a good passage of attacking play together, a break down the middle leading to the first (converted) try of the match on the half hour allowed the home side to take a 10-0 lead.
Two minutes later, a lapse in concentration allowed the Jaguares to score their second try, with the touchline conversion taking them 17 points ahead.
But, with time almost up in the first half, we earned a penalty which was kicked to touch and from the attacking lineout, Ruan Botha took the pass instead of the expected driving maul to catch the Jaguares out on defence and the captain was over, with Robert du Preez converting to cut the lead to 10 points at the half-time break.
It took almost 10 minutes before the first points of the second half were scored, Robert du Preez kicking over a penalty following a strong counter shove on the Jaguares ball to secure the advantage. It had been scrappy, neither side able to put a long period of attack together, but the points came at an important time in the game when we couldn’t concede more points against a hyped up Jaguares team playing some great rugby lately.
When the Jaguares infringed at the tackle area following a good attacking effort a few minutes later, de Preez was able to kick over his second penalty to turn it into a four point game and open things up nicely with 25 minutes of the match remaining.
However, a side as good as the Jaguares doesn’t give up and after earning a scrum penalty in our 22, kicked to touch and drove the ball over the line. However, the TMO ruled that it was a double movement and the try was disallowed. Although they had penalty advantage and attempted the move again, the ball was lost in contact thanks to some wonderfully committed defence on our tryline.
The TMO was asked to rule on another try, this time after Lwazi Mvovo chased a bobbling ball but it eluded his grasp and was ruled knocked on, no Cell C Sharks try that would have given us the lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Hands let us down dramatically following a wonderful period of attacking play, the ball going loose in the pass and then the Jaguares snatching up possession deep in their half and streaking through the defence to score the match-winning try with less than 10 minutes remaining.
The successful conversion from out wide took the home side into an 11 point lead and things got more difficult as Ruan Botha was red carded to put an end to the game as a contest. The Jaguares had the last say, scoring in the corner off an attacking lineout to give them the bonus point win.