The Jaguareshave broken the hearts of Rebel fans, prevailing 32 – 29 at AAMI Park.
The Rebels led for approximately 80% of the match but unfortunately were not able to close out the match and were over run by the Jaguares. Both sides played an attacking brand of rugby with the kicking game synonymous with the Tony McGahan years virtually non-existent.
The night started with the Rebels acknowledging their foundation members with a pre-game lap of AAMI Park. (hopefully, it was not a farewell lap).
It was fitting that the first meaningful contribution of the match was a damaging run from the milestone man 100 gamer Mitch Inman after receiving a great pass from Reece Hodge. Shortly after the Jaguares were penalised for being offside and Hodge put the Rebels in front 3-0.
Nic Stirzaker created another attacking opportunity with a dart down the blind side, which created the opportunity to spread the ball through Toby Smith, Hodge, Inman and Jack Maddocks, and resulted in Marika Koroibete with the ball on the wing. After making 20 metres Koroibete flung the ball back inside as he headed into touch. Maddocks got a toe on the ball and Jaguares full back Joaquin Tuculet dived on the ball. Sadly, Maddocks was penalised for diving on a player who was on the ground.
The Rebels received another penalty for players being in front of the kicker and Hodge shot at penalty goal totally confused the assistant referees. The TMO was called into action and the three points were awarded to the Rebels.
The Rebels lost an attacking line out with Leonardo Senatore stealing it. The Jaguares marched the ball down field with ease through Agustin Creevy, Guido Petti, Nahuel Tetez Chaparro Rodrigo Baez, Matias Moroni and Senatore. Lopeti Timani then caught Nicolas Sanchez high and Sanchez made no mistake with the penalty from 25 metres out directly in front to get the Jaguares on the board.
The Rebels lost another attacking line out with Senatore again the thief. The Rebels received another penalty and Angus Gardner had a chat to Jaguares captain Agustin Creevy and Hodge made the score 9 to 3.
Hooker Creevy made a break and put in a chip kick. However, he was called back for a forward pass.
From the midfield scrum on the Rebels side of halfway, the Rebels put on a set play. Stirzaker ran at an angle passed to Hodge who was cutting back inside, Hodge then passed to promising full back Jack Maddocks who made a break of 30 metres. Maddocks then passed back to Hodge who ran the remaining 25 metres and went over for a try, which he duly converted to give the Rebels a 16-3 lead.
The Jaguares’ execution was somewhat sloppy in the first thirty minutes.
After a knock on by Laurie Weeks and some good runs from Pablo Matera and Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolas Sanchez made a run for the line and looked like he was going to score the Jaguares’ first try. However, Maddocks had other ideas laying a try saving tackle. Sanchez was originally short of the line and when he rolled over the line Maddocks was able to hold him up.
The Jaguares did not have to wait long to score a try with Leonardo Senatore picking the ball up from the base of the scrum and passing to Martin Landajo who sent Santiago Cordero over in the corner. Sanchez converted to reduce Rebel lead to 16 to 10.
Colby Fainga’a won a penalty at the breakdown for Creevy not releasing but Hodge missed the shot at goal.
From the 22 metre restart, Amanaki Mafi received a pass and blew a hole in the Jaguares line making 30 metres before offloading to Maddocks. The Jaguares were penalised again this time for taking the half back out. Hodge kicked the penalty, and score 19-10.
In the shadows of half time, the Rebels were penalised for collapsing a maul. The Jaguares tried another maul after the siren but the Rebels were able to shut it down.
Half time Rebels (in fact Reece Hodge) 19 led Jaguares 10.
Marika Koroibete made a break down the wing after a great pass from Jackson Garden-Bachop. Koroibete then threw the ball inside to Maddocks, who after a good run threw a speculative pass that was gratefully accepted by Nicolas Sanchez.
James Hanson conceded a penalty for playing the ball from the ground. Amanaki Mafi was then penalised for being offside. Sanchez added 3 more points, Rebels leading 19-13.
A strong run from Guido Petti from the kickoff and good contributions from Bautista Ezcurra, Emiliano Boffelli and Leonardo Senatore saw the Jaguares gain 50 metres. A desperate tackle from Maddocks forced a knock on from Boffelli.
Mafi then made a thirty-metre run and provided a brilliant one handed offload to Maddocks. Unfortunately, Maddocks threw a flick pass which found a Jaguares jersey. The Jaguares then went on the attack following a penalty. The Jaguares went within metres of the line but the Rebels were able to hold firm.
Colby Fainga’a then created a penalty at the breakdown for Landajo not releasing the ball. Superboot Hodge both won the crossbar challenge and notched a penalty goal from 55 metres. Rebels 22 to 13.
Jaguares were attacking and had numbers on the outside but Garden-Bachop intercepted a pass from Gonzalo Bertranou. Shortly after Toby Smith threw a ball to Sanchez, who was tackled on the 22 by Koroibete and Maddocks. However, Sanchez provided a wonderful pass from the ground to Guido Petti, who was too big and powerful for Garden-Bachop and scored a try. Sanchez’s conversion reduced the Rebels margin to two points.
Hodge threw a dummy and made a line break on halfway but Maddocks dropped the pass under pressure from Cordero.
Creevy stole the ball from Lopeti Timani at the breakdown which after some quick passing sent Boffelli down the touch line. Boffelli put in a kick which went into the in goal. The Jaguares received a scrum for an incorrect kick at the restart. Gonzalo Bertranou scored following the scrum to put the Jaguares in front for the first time 25-22.
A brilliant cross field kick from Juan Martin Hernandez set up Cordero’s second try. Hernandez’s conversion pushed the Jaguares to a 32-22 lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
The Rebels weren’t able to make any dents in the Jaguares defence until some razzle dazzle after the siren which resulted in Steve Cummins scoring his first Super Rugby try. Departing scrum half Ben Meehan worked the crowd into a frenzy prior to and after he kicked the conversion.
The Game Changer
The loose pass by Toby Smith to Nicolas Sanchez who then set up Guido Petti for a try was the moment where the momentum of the game changed.
The G&GR MOTM
Jaguares winger Emiliano Boffelli ran for 104 metres from 12 carries made 6 clean breaks and beat 3 defenders.
Reece Hodge was at his brilliant best setting up and creating a number of line breaks. He scored a try and scored a total of 22 points for the night including his 100th point of the season. Sean McMahon was solid in his return from injury and Lopeti Timani made some big hits in defence.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Reece Hodge, Steve Cummins
Conversions: Reece Hodge, Ben Meehan
Penalties: Reece Hodge 5
Tries: Santiago Cordero 2, Guido Petti, Gonzalo Bertranou
Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez 2, Juan Martin Hernandez
Penalties: Nicolas Sanchez 2
There were almost more Foundation members on their lap than there were people in the rest of the crowd.