Hamilton’s Chiefs spoiled Argentina’s Jaguares first home party by beating the expansion side 26-30 at Velez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
The match was a historical event as it was the first time that a Super Rugby match had been played in Argentina.
The Chiefs outscored the Jaguares by four tries to three but neither of the teams earn the try bonus point.
There was a frenetic finish to the match as the Jaguares scored two late tries to take the lead before the Chiefs scored their fourth try to take the lead with just two minutes remaining.
Replacement scrum half Brad Weber did much of the damage for the Chiefs after coming on to replace All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow in the second half and scored the match-winning try.
Leading Super Rugby points scorer Damian McKenzie converted from the touchline, leaving the Buenos Aires-based hosts needing a try to regain the lead.
But the South Americans lost possession from the kick-off and the relieved Chiefs booted the ball into touch for a third victory in four outings this season.
Playing at home for the first time after a win and a loss in South Africa, debutants Jaguares looked set for a dramatic win when they scored two tries in as many minutes to turn a nine-point deficit into a 26-23 advantage.
A Santiago Cordero break led to a five-metre scrum, and after two resets scrum-half Martin Landajo dotted down with fly-half Nicolas Sanchez converting on 72 minutes.
Within a minute the sell-out 25,000 crowd at Estadio Jose Amalfitani were back on their feet as a dazzling 90-metre handling move ended with substitute Matias Moroni diving over far out.
Leading 2015 Rugby World Cup points scorer Sanchez failed to convert, but Jaguares had a three-point advantage with six minutes left.
Chiefs stormed back, moved into Argentine territory and kept the ball alive long enough for Weber to dive over and stun the crowd.
It was a thrilling climax to a pulsating seven-try encounter full of running rugby which saw the Argentines take a 14-13 lead into half-time.
The Jaguares will regret not taking more advantage of a 10-minute numerical superiority either side of the break when Kerr-Barlow was sin-binned for a professional foul in the 39th minute.
Both sides kicked one penalty while the New Zealanders were a man short and when Kerr-Barlow was eligible to return, Weber came on.
Wingers Sam McNicol and James Lowe, full-back Damian McKenzie and Weber were the try-scorers for the Chiefs, Super Rugby champions in 2012 and 2013.
McKenzie kicked two conversions and a penalty and fly-haf Aaron Cruden one penalty for a visiting team lacking several injured stars, notably All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick.
Hooker and skipper Agustin Creevy, Landajo and Moroni crossed the try-line for the Jaguares, whose starting line-up contained 14 Argentine Test players.
Sanchez stotted one conversion and three penalties from five shots at goal.
Next week in Round 5 the Chiefs are back in Hamilton where they will host the Western Force. The Jaguares host the Stormers in Buenos Aires.
Final Score Jaguares 26 (14) Chiefs 30 (13)
Tries – A.Creevy, M.Landajo, M.Moroni
Pen – N.Sanchez 2
Con – N.Sanchez
Tries – S.Nicholl, D.McKenzie, J.Lowe, B.Weber
Pen – A.Cruden
Con – D.McKenzie 2
Cards – T.Kerr-Barlow (38th min yellow)
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Ref 1:Jamie Nutbrown
Assistant Ref 2:Federico Anselmi
TMO : Santiago Borsani
1- Santiago García Botta, 2- Agustín Creevy (C), 3- Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4- Guido Petti, 5- Tomas Lavannini , 6- Pablo Matera, 7-Juan M Leguizamon, 8-Leonardo Senatore 9- Martín Landajo, 10- Nicolás Sánchez, 11- Emiliano Boffelli, 12-Juan M. Hernandez, 13-Jeronimo de la Fuente , 14-Santiago Cordero , 15- Jaoquin Tuculet
Replacements : 16- Julián Montoya, 17-Roberto Tejerizo, 18-Felipe Arregui, 19-Matías Alemanno,, 20- Facundo Isa, 21-Felipe Ezcurra, 22- Santiago González Iglesias,, 23- Matías Moroni,
1. Mitchell Graham, 2. Hika Elliot, 3. Hiroshi Yamashita , 4. Michael Allardice , 5. Johan Bardoul , 6. Tom Sanders, 7. Sam Cane , co-captain 8. Michael Leitch , 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 10. Aaron Cruden ,co-captain 11. James Lowe , 12. Charlie Ngatai , 13. Anton Lienert-Brown , 14. Sam McNicol , 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements : 16. Rhys Marshall , 17. Pauliasi Manu , 18. Siate Tokolahi , 19. Taleni Seu, 20. Maama Vaipulu , 21. Brad Weber, 22. Seta Tamanivalu , 23. Glen Fisiiahi.