The Jaguares and Crusaders will wrap up Round Eight of Super Rugby on Saturday, with the former returning from a bye on the back of a win.
The victory over the Lions was much-needed for Mario Ledesma’s men as their run of four home games could have ended with just one victory. As it was though they made it a 50 percent record which means two wins from six so far this season. While it is not great, they can build.
It’s been much more promising for the reigning champion Crusaders though as despite two losses – to solid Hurricanes and Highlanders sides – they have four wins in the bag and are well backed to make that five in Buenos Aires. However, they are without several first-team stars.
Joining the likes of Kieran Read, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Richie Mo’unga and Israel Dagg on the sidelines this week is Scott Barrett, Seta Tamanivalu, Jordan Taufua and Jack Goodhue, with Scott Robertson having to seriously test his squad depth at an early stage of the season.
Their away form is strong though as they have won 12 of their last 13 matches outside of New Zealand, including their last seven in a row. Throw in the Jaguares still hunting for their maiden win over New Zealand opposition, and the scales are weighed in the Crusaders’ favour.
What is concerning for the Jaguares is their decent starts to games – they have a cumulative points difference of 35 in the first quarter of their matches this season, the best of any side – falls away thereafter. Indeed they’re the only Super Rugby side this campaign to have a negative points difference in each of the three remaining quarters. That is something the Crusaders will feast on if it’s not rectified.
Handling errors too have hurt the Jaguares this season so on turnover ball particularly, look out for the likes of lethal finishers George Bridge and Manasa Mataele providing an option in a fixture at Estadio José Amalfitani that should offer an entertaining end to the round.
Team news: The Jaguares have named an unchanged side as they look to return to Super Rugby action with a positive result. Head coach Mario Ledesma has kept the faith with the 23 players that shocked the Lions in their Round Six 49-35 victory in Buenos Aires. Try scorers from that impressive triumph, Bautista Delguy, Emiliano Boffelli, Javier Ortega Desio and Bautista Ezcurra, are therefore all named in the XV.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson has rewarded in-form wing Manasa Mataele a start in Saturday’s Super Rugby fixture. Mataele replaces Seta Tamanivalu while Tim Bateman has been named at centre in place of Jack Goodhue, who has returned home to New Zealand with a hamstring injury. Robertson has made two changes, and one positional change, to his starting forward pack for this game. The Crusaders’ latest Super Rugby centurion Luke Romano has been promoted to the starting line-up and will partner Sam Whitelock. In the loose forwards Tom Sanders moves from the replacements bench to the starting side and will wear the six jersey, while Heiden Bedwell-Curtis shifts to number eight.
2016: Crusaders won 32-15 in Christchurch
Jaguares: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Felipe Arregui, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 23 Ramiro Moyano
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Tim Bateman, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Donald Brighouse, 18 Chris King, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mike Delany, 23 Braydon Ennor
Date: Saturday, April 7
Venue: Estadio José Amalfitani, Buenos Aires
Kick-off: 18:40 local (21:40 GMT)
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Pablo Deluca (Argentina)
Television match official: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)