The Western Force scored two late tries as they beat the Jaguares 6-16 at Vélez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires.
The game was level at 6-all after 64 minutes before Alex Newsome and Isireli Naisarani scored in quick succession, to give Dave Wessels’ men a famous victory.
The Force kept the Argentinians scoreless up until the final quarter but finished stronger as the home team wilted.
Juan Martin Hernández kicked two penalties to cancel out Ian Priors previous two three-pointers before the denouement, saw the visitors push clear.
This was the first meeting between the two teams and it was a tight, torrid, stodgy, brutal affair. The Jaguares are the ultimate Jekyll and Hyde rugby team; you never know which will turn up.
The Argentinians had a chance to make up ground on the Sharks, in the Africa 2 Conference, after the South Africans lost their derby against the Southern Kings.
The Australians have had a terrible time, losing close games, despite some promising displays.
Somehow, they dug deep and found a way to win against the odds in a hostile environment, against a side packed with Test match veterans.
The first significant moment of the game came in the 29th minute when Richie Arnold, was sent to the sin-bin.
The opening half hour saw both teams try and play positive rugby, but poor handling killed all momentum.
Prior gave his team a 36th-minute lead with his first penalty of the match after multiple infringements at the breakdown by the home side.
The game started at a frantic pace; twice, the Force almost crossed the whitewash, twice, they were denied.
Semisi Masirewa had moved to fullback after Amm replaced Jonno Lance. Peter Grant went to standoff and Amm to the right wing.
The home side did eventually get on the board with an early second-half penalty.
The game was descending into chaos with off the ball scuffles between both sets of forwards. Ben O’Keeffe had to talk to Agustin Creevy and Heath Tessmann, multiple times as he lost his patience.
Hernández and Prior both missed soon after. It seemed nobody wanted to win this.
Going into the final quarter, Prior’s second penalty restored the visitor’s lead after their hosts had a chance to go ahead themselves.
The Jaguares forwards decided on route-one pick-and-drives, but they knocked on close to the whitewash. However, they were awarded another penalty and opted for the posts; Hernández tied the game at 6-6.
Raúl Pérez’s men started to gain the ascendency. Their forwards were getting over the gain line, but the handling kept stopping their attacks. Frustrations were at fever pitch.
It was the Aussies who kept their composure, going through the phases, bashing their way up the field. The Jaguares are not committing to the breakdown. Eventually, 18 phases later, the Force lose the ball.
The Jaguares were not committing to the breakdown. Eventually, 18 phases later, the Force lost the ball, but, they had sent a warning to their opponents.
Then bang. Newsome broke the stalemate. The winger crossed for his sixth try of the season after the Force went through another set of multi-phase play.
The Jaguares were back peddling and tiring. The visitors went wide and Ross Haylett-Petty put the 22-year-old away.
Prior, who was not having the best day from the kicking tee, missed the touchline conversion. However, they had a five-point lead with 11 minutes to play.
The Argentines came fighting back, almost getting through the Force’s defence, but again, their hands let them down.
As the clock ticked down, Wessels’ team found some hidden strength, deep down, where only those who have played competitive sports know exists, and charged up the field.
When they should have folded, the Force powered on, delivering the knockout blow to their heavyweight opponent, deep in the eleventh round.
This was classic rope-a-dope, although, only without the tactical awareness of champions.
With five minutes remaining, Naisarani crashed over for the game-winning score.
Prior missed, but, in a game of fine margins and little scoring opportunities, the 10-point gap would be too much to overcome.
Final score: Jaguares 6 (0) Force 16 (3)
Pen – Hernández (2)
Tries – Newsome, Naisarani
Pen – Prior (2)
Cards – Arnold (Yellow, 29th minute)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Juan Sylvestre
Assistant Ref 2: Jose Covasi
TMO: Santiagi Borsani
15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Bautista Ezcurra, 10 Juan Martin Hernández, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Benjamin Macome, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 6 Tomas Lezana, 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Manuel Montero.
15 Peter Grant, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jonno Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Onehunga Havili, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann (captain), 1 Francois van Wyk.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Isireli Naisarani, 22 Mitchell Short, 23 James Verity-Amm