Bulls game shows Jaguares are kingmakers
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - Their comfortable home triumph over the Bulls served as a reminder that the Jaguares could well have a major say in fortunes within the South African conference by the end of ordinary season in Super Rugby this year.
As much as the 27-12 outcome against them was a bit of a comeuppance for the visiting Bulls after their heartening thrashing of the Stormers a week earlier, the Jaguares, by contrast, hugely atoned for their similarly Buenos Aires-staged loss to the Lions in round one.
Wet weather in the big Argentinean metropolis and a slippery pitch may have caught the Bulls a little off-guard, although they could not offer it up as a significant excuse; they were well beaten by three tries to nil which earned the hosts a full house of log points.
It wasn’t an outright train smash for the Bulls, though: they had been leading as late as the 64th minute and the sluices only really opened after that to give the scoreboard a slightly lopsided look by the finish.
The match was a reminder, nevertheless, that the Jaguares (whose scrum again exposed an old Bulls shortcoming at times) are perhaps capable, in what might yet be an extraordinarily evenly-contested conference in 2019, of challenging for supremacy in it themselves - although their extraordinary volume of long-haul travel tends to be a major impediment.
But at very least, they could be important kingmakers in determining the SA-group pecking order toward the knockout phase.
Put it this way: victories by South African sides will be worth gold in South America, and the Lions - probably smarting after their last-gasp, unlucky loss to the Stormers at Newlands - can at least boast that they are already up and running in that respect.
The way the Jaguares disposed of the Bulls was a tribute in its own way to just how well Swys de Bruin’s charges had fared in breaking their historical duck (by a 25-16 margin) in Buenos Aires seven days before.
It is just possible that South African teams managing the double - home and away victories - against the Argentineans this year could be a massive factor in deciding the outcome of the conference.
While all four will probably fancy their chances of winning the home match against the virtual Pumas national team, last season was a reminder of how tricky it is to prevail against them in hostile territory: the Jaguares had a 100 percent home record against SA foes, including thrashing the Bulls by 30 points.
Remaining Jaguares 2019 matches against SA teams:
March 9: v Lions (away)
March 15: v Stormers (away)
April 6: v Bulls (away)
April 13: v Sharks (away)
May 4: v Stormers (home)
June 8: v Sharks (home)
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