The Jaguares beat the Lions 36-24 at Estadio Jose Amalfitani despite both teams sharing four tries in Buenos Aires.
The No 10 jersey is fabled in Argentina but Nicolás Sánchez who top scored at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, is as valuable to his Super Rugby franchise and the national team as Diego Maradona.
He added a try to his 20 points and had two assists in a classic flyhalf performance as he led his side to a comfortable win over last season’s runners-up.
The Jags took a three-try 21-7 lead and despite Jacques van Rooyen’s early second half score, two quick tries from Jerónimo de la Fuente and Sánchez gave the hosts their second win of the campaign.
Lions ill-discipline saw two players sin-binned and were always behind the eight-ball against a team brimful of Test players and a physicality akin to what the South Africans are brought up on.
Captain Warren Whiteley scored a brace, and Malcome Marx’s late try, was not enough to earn a losing bonus point in Argentina as the home team finished 12 points clear.
Joaquín Tuculet scored in the corner after some wonderful back line play and linking up of the forwards put the fullback in for the try.
Nicolás Sánchez missed the touchline conversion but slotted a penalty as the Argentinians led 8-0.
The Lions hit back on 12 minutes. Some strong pick and driving from the forwards were stopped short. Ross Cronje received quick ball and offloaded to the skipper for his first of the match.
The Jaguares regained the lead after some smart work from Sánchez. The flyhalf took the ball to the advantage line deep inside the Lions’ 22, straightened and drew his man, releasing Ramiro Moyano.
The right wing had looped around the back of the attack and collected the pass on the outside shoulder to score.
Andries Ferreira was sent to the sin-bin during the first half before three more penalties from Sánchez, extended the the Jags’ lead to 24-7, early in the second half.
The Lions scored off a lineout driving maul; Van Rooyen dotted down. The conversion was missed but the home team’s lead was now 12.
A comeback was put on ice as the man with arguably the best name in rugby, De La Fuente, scored from Sánchez’s short pass on to the inside centre on the touch line before the standoff scored his own five-pointer.
The Jaguares now 36-12 up would not be denied. The Lions were playing catch-up rugby and managed two late scores to put some respectability on the final score.
Marx scored a late try and the skipper got his second but the Lions fell short in the South American country’s capital.
The final score is Jaguares 36 (21) Lions 24 (7)
Tries – Tuculet, Moyano, De La Fuente, Sánchez
Pen – Sánchez (3)
Con – Sánchez (3)
Cards – Lezana (Yellow, 73rd minute)
Tries – Whiteley (2), Van Rooyen, Marx
Con – Reynolds, Van der Walt
Cards – Ferreira (Yellow, 2oth minute), Coetzee (Yellow, 56th minute)
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1: Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2: Damian Schneider
TMO: Santiago Borsani
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni
15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacments: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Andries Coetzee, 23 Sylvian Mahuza
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