The Jaguares defeated the Kings 26-39 to open their Super Rugby campaign with an away win at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
The Jaguares’ class showed as they overpowered the Kings. Two tries in three minutes – during a 20-point second half blitz – from Leonardo Senatore and Joaquín Tuculet put the game beyond the home side.
Two late tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Luzuko Vulindlu was not enough as the Kings went down by 13 points and three tries to two.
The Kings went 9-3 up early but, their lead did not last long.
Gonzalo Bertranou’s try, 9 points from flyhalf Joaquín Díaz Bonilla’s boot and a penalty from substitute Santiago González Iglesias, cancelled out another Lionel Cronje penalty to give the visitors a 12-19 halftime lead.
The Jaguares, with ball in hand, are great to watch, and the Kings could not match them for skill. It was only some last ditch tackling and misjudged offloads that kept the scores close during a frantic first half.
Bertranou’s opening try was made possible thanks to some quick-thinking and enterprising backline play which saw the visitors find holes in the Kings’ defence, before Santiago Cordero’s inside ball put the scrumhalf away for the score.
Another Cronje penalty put the Kings 12-10 up but, two penalties from Díaz Bonilla (before he went off injured) and one from his replacement, González Iglesias, meant that the home side trailed by seven at the break.
González Iglesias kicked another brace of penalties to extend his team’s lead to 26-12 early in the second half.
The Kings, to their credit, created scoring chances but did not execute. This led to some risky play and the Argentinians took full advantage with some superb counter-attacking.
Defending deep inside their 22, flanker Tomás Lezana’s excellent work at the breakdown won a turnover and passed to Tuculet who made a short break.
The fullback beat Mzwanele Zito and Ross Geldenhuys and surged upfield before drawing two defenders to send Senatore away. The No 8 ran 55 metres to score.
Almost immediately, 12-32 became 12-39. Some sloppy play from Andisa Ntsila on the touch-line saw Malcolm Jaer kick a loose ball downfield, regather and pass to Tuculet on the inside, for the fullback to score. Game over.
The Jaguares could have scored on numerous occasions but ill-discipline – something which afflicted them throughout last season – saw them lose two players to the sin-bin.
To the Kings credit, they did not give up and continued to attack. They were rewarded with two late tries from Mapimpi – on debut – and Vulindlu in the final minute, but, it was too little too late.
Final Score Southern Kings 26 (12) Jaguares 39 (19)
Tries – Mapimpi, Vulindlu
Pen – Cronje (4)
Con – Cronje (2)
Cards – Geldenhuys (Yellow, 23rd minute)
Tries – Bertranou, Senatore, Tuculet
Pen – Díaz Bonilla (3), González Iglesias (3)
Con – Díaz Bonilla, González Iglesias (3)
Cards – Ezcurra (Yellow, 74th minute), Moroni (Yellow, 79th minute)
Kings: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruan Lerm, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (c)
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Chris Heiberg, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole ‘Coyi’ Banda, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Replacments: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano