Sharks tame fiery Jaguares
Cape Town - The Sharks outmuscled the Jaguares in key areas to inflict a first loss on the Super Rugby newcomers with a 19-15 win in Durban.
This was another thrilling but definitely flawed display from the Jaguares, whose desire to offload and to take risks is already winning them several new fans, even though it doesn't always come off. Issues with the scrum and discipline remain, but so does the entertainment.
That all said the Sharks had more than enough chances to win this game, but they were let down by their handling and execution. Their work at the scrum and breakdown in the end paved the way to victory, combined with the boot of Joe Pietersen.
Despite losing two players to yellow cards in the first half, just like in Round 1 against the Cheetahs, the Jaguares led at half-time thanks to tries from Emiliano Boffelli and Santiago Cordero.
The Sharks rolling maul looked unstoppable at times, producing a try for Marcell Coetzee, but Gary Gold's side failed to make the most of their personnel advantage.
It didn't matter - Pietersen's third and fourth penalties helping the Sharks retake the lead, which they never relinquished as the Jaguares failed to score a point in the second half.
Sharks fly-half Pietersen opened the scoring with an early penalty, but the first try went to the visitors.
An excellent break from number eight Leonardo Senatore up the touchline led to an offload to the speeding Emiliano Boffelli who had too much pace for the chasing defence, Sánchez converting to make it 7-3.
It didn't take long for the Sharks to reply, using their maul to great effect as they thundered over with Coetzee grounding the ball at the tail.
Pietersen converted well from out wide as the home side went back ahead. Coetzee however went from hero to villain after being penalised to set Sánchez up for a long-range penalty attempt, which he landed to make it 10-10.
More scrum issues for Ramiro Herrera - in eyes of referee Jaco Peyper - up against Sharks captain Tendai Mtawarira allowed Pietersen to knock over his second penalty as the Sharks put the Jaguares under huge pressure.
Struggling to cope with the Sharks' maul, Rodrigo Báez was yellow carded for collapsing only a couple of minutes before Pablo Matera joined him in the sin-bin for cynical play close to the Jaguares' try line.
Somehow the Sharks failed to add any more points when playing 15 against 13, knocking on at the lineout five metres from the Jaguares line, and it was the visitors who scored next.
Cordero's counter-attack led to a long kick upfield and the rapid full-back impressively scorched after the ball to ground it ahead of the chasing Sharks. Sánchez couldn't convert, but the Jaguares were ahead 15-13 at the break.
Still down to 13 men the Jaguares held out without conceding any more points but Pietersen, looking sharp off the tee, punished them for more indiscipline with his third penalty to make put the hosts ahead once more.
A super last-ditch tackle from Cordero on Coetzee prevented another possible score as both coaches looked to their replacements for some extra zip.
Pietersen struck again after the Jaguares scrummed on the angle to continue his 100 percent record, making it 19-15 and leaving the Jaguares in need of a try to win.
The Sharks defence however had shut up shop, denying the Jaguares any final opportunities as they ground out a big win.
Sharks 19 (13)
Try: Marcell Coetzee
Conversion: Joe Pietersen
Penalties: Pietersen (4)
Jaguares 15 (15)
Tries: Emiliano Boffelli,
Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez