The Hurricanes fought back to beat the Jaguares 23-26 with two late tries to get their first win of the 2020 Super Rugby season at Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires.
It was not vintage Hurricanes rugby, but it will not matter one jot as the Wellington-based franchise open their Super Rugby account with a thrilling come-back in Argentina.
The New Zealanders overturned an 11-point 71st-minute deficit, scoring 14 unanswered points at the death to register the unlikely road win over last season’s losing Super Rugby finalists.
Alex Fidel and Jamie Booth each scored in the final nine minutes of this tight contest to break Jaguares hearts.
The defeat ends a seven-game unbeaten run at home for the hosts, who have still never beaten the Hurricanes at home.
The Stormers kept the Hurricanes scoreless in Cape Town last weekend, and the Jaguares kept the Kiwis out for 70 minutes.
Only the boot of Jordie Barrett had kept the visitors in contention.
The 22-year-old sensation was flawless from the tee, kicking four penalties, while Jackson Garden-Bachop and Fletcher Smith kicked the two conversions to confirm the win.
Gonzalo Quesada will wonder how his team threw this game away after dominating for 65 minutes.
Jaguares take a slender first-half lead but fail to close out the match
Domingo Miotti was at it again, controlling the game from the pocket, was involved in everything good about Quesada’s enigmatic side.
The young first receiver had a hand in Marcos Kremer’s 23rd-minute try and kicked a penalty and conversion as the Jaguares led 10-9 at the break.
Barrett, who looks to have bulked up in the off-season, kicked three long-range penalties to keep the Kiwis in the game.
Miotti and Barrett traded penalties as the Jaguares stayed ahead by a point going into the final quarter.
But a powerful driving maul saw Agustin Creevy flop over the chalk to open up a two-score lead in the 64th-minute.
TJ Perenara went close but was held up over the line as the Hurricanes searched for their first Super Rugby try of the season.
Fidow scored from close range in the 71st-minute to keep Jason Holland’s men in the hunt.
Booth scored with less than 90 seconds remaining after a beautiful, free-flowing attack, to give his side an unlikely away win in South America.
Jaguares control the first half, but Barrett’s boot keeps the Kiwis in the game
Barrett, playing his 50th Super Rugby game, opened the scoring for the ‘Canes with a monster 63-metre penalty that travelled over the dead-ball line.
Both sides kicked for territory hoping for a mistake by the opposition, but none came; instead, the chances came from the breakdown where penalties were conceded for various reasons, particularly by the New Zealanders.
The Jaguares made a mess of the Hurricanes lineout throughout the first half, winning possession from three of the visitor’s throws; however, they could never make it count.
Tomas Cubelli should have scored, but the scrum-half knocked on with the try-line begging after some good work by Emiliano Boffelli and Miotti.
Los Jaguares did get on the board after winning another penalty at the breakdown.
Miotti made no mistake, levelling the scores from 41 metres in the 16th-minute. Two minutes later, the Hurricanes thought they had scored.
But TMO Santiago Borsani and referee Rasta Rasivhenge deemed Gareth Evans obstructed Matias Moroni, which allowed Billy Proctor a clear run to the try-line.
Los Jaguares start to get into their rhythm, but their finishing lets them down
The Jaguares were beginning to find their groove, but could not finish off any attacks. A couple of promising chances went begging.
But then a misjudged attack from a midfield scrum led to the game’s first try.
A lost pass kick-started an attack that was sublimely finished by Kremer.
Moroni started the attack with a burst up to the Kiwis’ 22 after regathering the bouncing ball.
The ball was recycled quickly to Boffelli before Miotti put the flanker, on an angled run, away with a short pass to score under the posts.
Miotti added the extras from next to the poles.
Barrett’s boot keeps the New Zealanders in touching distance
Barrett doubled his side’s score after Francisco Gorrissen gave away a penalty at the breakdown after the restart.
Miotti missed, two minutes later from in front, after Du’Plessis Kirifi got penalised for not supporting his body-weight at the previous ruck.
Evans won his side a penalty after a dangerous attack from the home team. Barrett called for the tee, and once again, the ball sailed well over the crossbar.
The gap was now one point with less than five minutes until halftime. Another stolen ball from the visitor’s lineout was not capitalised on before the interval.
Miotti missed a chance to extend his team’s lead, but his penalty-goal was wide.
The 23-year-old flyhalf then attempted a drop-kick after the hooter, but the kick was wide, and the ball rolled out over the dead-ball line.
Hurricanes come out firing, winning the tight phases, but they lack any end product
Both kickers traded early second-half penalties after a Hurricanes offside in their 22 following a sustained attack inside their 22.
The visitor’s pack won a scrum-penalty under the posts in the 48th-minute to allow the fullback to cut the deficit back to one point.
A late no-arms tackle by Isaia Walker-Leawere on Miotti leads to a kickable penalty in front of the posts for the stand-off, which he duly converts.
Barrett attempted a long-range drop-kick to match his look-a-like, but it also dropped short and wide.
Holland’s men kept coming, going through the phases but never making any significant gains. The passing was not slick, and the patience was lacking.
Attack after attack got repelled, and just like most of the game, the Jaguares forwards win the penalty at the breakdown after slowing the ball and contesting at the right time.
The Kiwis cut frustrated figures as another chance went begging.
Then bang. The hosts scored from a sublime attack, deep inside their half.
From the penalty, the Jaguares counter-attacked from deep, sending the ball through the hands to Boffelli, who thought he had scored.
But a TMO check showed Barrett got back and made a last-ditch try-saving tackle on Boffelli, whose foot is in touch just before he dotted down in the corner.
Jaguares kept turning the screw as the Hurricanes started to tire, but there was a late twist
Los Jaguares kept going, keeping the visitors under pressure, winning a penalty that Miotti kicked to the corner.
Jeronimo De La Fuente had had enough; he wanted more than three.
His forwards went to their driving maul and powered their way over the whitewash. It was ex-skipper Creevy who got up with the ball.
The conversion was good and the gap two scores with less than 16 minutes remaining.
Then came the coup de grâce. The Hurricanes dug deep and launched a sustained series of attacks.
Perenara almost scored but he was held up over the line; the ‘Canes seemed destined not to score a try.
Then, like London buses, two five-pointers arrived within minutes of each other.
Fidel crashed over next to the poles with nine minutes to play. Garden-Bachop’s conversion reduced the gap to four.
And with seconds remaining, the tourists mounted one last attack.
Vaea Fifita played a superb one-two with Ngani Laumape, who put Jamie Booth away for the winner.
Final Score: Jaguares 23 (10) Hurricanes 26 (9)
Tries – Kremer, Creevy
Pen – Miotti (3)
Con – Miotti (2)
Tries – Fidow, Booth
Pen – J. Barrett (4)
Con – Garden-Bachop, Smith
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 1: Pablo Deluca
Assistant Ref 2: Martin Cordoba
TMO: Santiago Borsani
Coach: Gonzalo Quesada
15 Santiago Carreras, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente (captain), 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Rodrigo Buni, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Francisco Gorrissen, 5 Lucas Paulos, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Joel Sclavi, 19 Javier Ortega Desio, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Santiago Chocobares.
Coach: Jason Holland
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Asafo Aumua, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Vince Aso.