The Jaguares staged a thrilling late comeback to beat the Bulls 20-22 in a hard-fought Super Rugby contest at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.
Domingo Miotti scored a three-minute brace on his Super Rugby debut to sink the Bulls on the Highveld.
The game turned in the 71st-minute when Tim Agaba was yellow carded. Agaba was soon followed to the naughty step by Conraad van Vuuren as the Bulls imploded spectacularly.
The Jaguares scored twice during Agaba’s stint on the sideline, punishing their hosts for their profligacy and ill-discipline.
The Jaguares trailed by 10 points at the death, and there was no reason to think they would stage a comeback after a flat attacking display. Enter Miotti.
The youngster looks like a cross between Beauden Barrett and Damian McKenzie and plays like both.
Within a minute of coming onto the pitch, Miotti crossed in the corner. The 22-year-old then kept his nerve, slotting the touchline conversion to give his team hope.
The Jaguares went coast to coast
A fantastic counter-attack after the restart saw the South Americans at their best, offloading in the tackle and flicking passes right and left in the mayhem of the closing stages.
Miotti had his second after some spectacular interplay between backs and forwards, in the build-up, to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the match, one they would not cede.
Gonzalo Quesada’s side’s sensational victory ends a miserable five-game run of away defeats.
The Sharks remain on top of the South African conference while the Jaguares go fourth.
Bulls in command for 70 minutes
The Bulls led through Manie Libbok’s boot, but they will rue the fact that they scored in threes instead of fives when they had more than 70% territory and 65% possession before the interval.
Pablo Matera crossed after a linebreak in what was the Jaguares’ first attack inside Bulls’ territory.
The try reduced the deficit to two at the break after Libbok’s three penalties put his side 9-7 up.
The stodgy game was dominated by the boot of Libbok and a plethora of reset scrums
The Bulls flyhalf, starting at first receiver for the first time because Handré Pollard was rested, kicked five penalties in all as the Bulls ground a solid lead deep into the second half.
Jade Stighling scored his maiden Super Rugby try after the interval to give his side a seven-point lead, soon after halftime.
Libbok and Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias traded penalties while Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro was in the sin-bin.
Superb game-management by the South Americans kept the home team from pulling away as they did not concede a deficit while down to 14 players.
Libbok extended the Blue Bulls’ lead to 10 with a 61st-minute penalty before the thrilling denouement.
Credit to the Jaguares. They did not panic and took their opportunities when it mattered as they leave Loftus with a valuable win.
Pote Human’s side went into meltdown with two players receiving yellow cards in the final 10 minutes’ moments of madness as they crumbled to defeat.
Solid start from the Pretoria side who had rested star players
The Bulls had rested star players Pollard and Jesse Kriel because they had played the entire campaign. Libbok went in for Pollard, and Dylan Sage started at outside centre.
Johnny Kotze and Stighling moved onto the wings for Rosco Specman, and Cornal Hendricks dropped to the bench.
Hanro Liebenberg moved from flank to lock for Jason Jenkins. Jannes Kirsten was promoted from the bench and took Liebenberg’s spot on the side of the scrum.
Schalk Brits was also missing from the line-up as he begins a four-week suspension for his role in the punch-up with Akker van der Merwe, in last week’s win over the Sharks.
Corniel Els came in at hooker for the suspended Springbok. Despite all the changes, the three-times former champions started strong.
All the changes to the starting XV didn’t look to have an adverse effect.
Human’s side had conceded just one try within the opening quarter this Super Rugby season, fewer than any other team in the competition. And they continued with another shut-out.
The Jaguares – infamous for their terrible disciplinary record – conceded five penalties inside 23 minutes.
It gave the home team opportunities to build a lead, chipping away at the scoreboard. However, the only currency in Super Rugby is tries. Tries lead to wins, not penalties.
Libbok missed his first attempt, but was flawless, afterwards as he put his side 9-nil, up. But one mistake can undo all the good work that preceded it.
Liebenberg knocked on, and then Ruan Steenkamp was penalised for not releasing. Matera scored. Easy as you like.
Matera broke through Steenkamp’s tackle, after a lineout move, and raced away. It was so simple and came out of nowhere.
Scrums, reset scrums
Reset scrums marred the game. Referee Brendon Pickerill spent the afternoon talking non-stop to the front rows because they could not remain steady.
Mr Pickerill showed patience but couldn’t continue letting the scrums collapse. Santiago Medrano and Mayco Vivas were penalised twice.
Vivas was lucky not to be pinged for a third time in the first-half because Trevor Nyakane was unfairly pointed out when it was the Argentine who slipped.
Vivas endured a torrid time and suffered the indignity of being substituted before halftime, but his side was only two behind.
Bulls continued where they left off
Ramiro Moyano went off. Boffelli moved to left wing, and Joaquin Tuculet came on at fullback.
Divan Rossouw, who kicked all afternoon superbly, chased his kick but Boffelli got back to save the day, winning a penalty at the breakdown.
The Jaguares, however, were the architects of their downfall by not finding touch, and the Bulls began a counter-attack from deep.
They moved the ball quickly before Burger Odendaal broke the gain-line before he was hauled down. The centre popped to the supporting Stighling for the try.
Gonzalez Iglesias reduced the lead with a penalty of his own, after Tetaz Chaparro’s yellow.
This was a pivotal moment in the match because the Bulls did not capitalise on their advantage. All they could muster was another penalty.
Quesada’s men handled the 10 minutes expertly, slowing play down as well as opting for a shot at goal when they might have kicked to the corner.
Libbok opened up a two-score lead with two more shots at goal before the carnage ensued. Both teams emptied their benches.
The men from Buenas Aires were huffing and puffing in the altitude of the Highveld, and needed fresh legs. Little did they know that they were unleashing a Weapon of Mass Destruction.
They had survived the Bulls’ onslaught; could the hosts do the same? Agaba was binned, and the tourists took full advantage.
The Miotti Miracle
A sustained period of rare pressure inside die Blou Bulle’s culminated in Miotti’s first Super Rugby try. The Pumas’ u20 international burrowed through Libbok and Duane Vermeulen’s tackles.
The final dagger came in the form of a stirring attack after the restart. The visitors spread the ball left with multiple players handling and offloading to supporting runners -which never seemed to run out.
Agustin Creevy played Miotti, who was at second receiver. The ball was shifted quickly to Tomas Lezana thanks to some quick handling and deft touches.
Lezana drew Odendaal before playing Matias Orlando. The centre beat a defender and offloaded in the tackle to Tuculet.
The fullback sucked in Stighling and Kirsten before offloading to Boffelli. The winger held off Kirsten long enough for Miotti to collect his pass and run in for the game-winning dagger. Phew!
Final Score: Bulls 20 (9) Jaguares 22 (7)
Tries – Stighling
Pen – Libbok (5)
Cards – Agaba (Yellow, 71′), Van Vuuren (Yellow, 77′)
Tries – Matera, Miotti (2)
Pen – Gonzalez Iglesias
Con – Gonzalez Iglesias, Miotti
Cards – Tetaz Chaparro (Yellow, 47′)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 1: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2: Mike Fraser
TMO: Willie Vos
15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hanro Liebenberg, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 JT Jackson, 23 Cornal Hendricks.
15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Matias Moroni, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente (captain), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Julian Montoya, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Replacements: 16 Agustin Creevy, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Enrique Pieretto Heilan, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Joaquin Tuculet.