Super Rugby Match Preview 

Saturday 3rd March 2018

Jaguares vs Hurricanes

Venue: Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires.

Kickoff: 18h40 Local Time, 21h40 GMT, 23h40 SA Time

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), José Covasi (Argentina)

TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)

The Jaguares are at home for their third game of the season, their first in 2018 campaign. Wounded after two losses in two weeks, they will be looking to make amends this week, and they will be thinking that they might just claim the scalp of the visiting Hurricanes! After all, the Canes have just slipped……..

Last weekend saw the Hurricanes lose to the Bulls, a game that almost every pundit in the world of rugby called wrongly. I admit to getting it wrong, but I was rather pleased to have been proven wrong.

Rest assured, the Hurricanes will not take that loss well. They will be hurting, and with more than a little shamefaced embarrassment too. And that does not bode well for the Jaguares!

I am expecting an almighty backlash from the Hurricanes. A hurricane is descending on the Estadio Jose Amalfitani.

Teams:

The Hurricanes have made four changes to their starting side from last week’s opening match against the Bulls. Two changes are as a result of injuries, with Chris Eves coming in for the injured Toby Smith while Ben Lam comes on to the wing to replace Wes Goosen.

The changes see both Barrett brothers return to the starting side for the first time this year. Beauden Barrett will start at fly-half after coming off the bench last weekend, while Jordie Barrett has been named at full-back.

Jordie Barrett is back after he injured his shoulder playing for the Hurricanes in last year’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Lions in South Africa.

There is also one positional change in the side as Matt Proctor moves from full-back into centre with Vince Aso moving to the bench.

Changes are seen on the bench with Alex Fidow fit to take his place after he was withdrawn from the Bulls match. while Michael Fatialofa also makes a return. Former Rebels fly-half Jackson Garden-Bachop will make his first appearance for the Hurricanes if he is used off the bench.

The Jaguares have made just two changes to their starting XV, with last week’s locks, Tomas Lavanini and Guido Petti, replaced by Matias Alemanno, and Marcos Kremer. Petti drops to the bench, while Lavanini drops right out of the Match-day 23.

On the bench, there are several changes. Alemanno and Kremer are both elevated to start, so they are replaced by Guido Petti and Juan Manuel Leguizamon. They are joined by Juan Martin Hernandez and Sebastian Cancelliere.

Discussion:

The Hurricanes have so much talent on their books. This is a team loaded with striking power, and superb finishers. Forwards with pace and grunt, backs with skills and speed. This is a team that oozes skill and talent for their collective pores. And then they have the game-breakers too, the likes of Beauden Barrett and his brother Jordie, TJ Perenara, and Brad Shileds.

The Jaguares are a team full of journeymen players with very few super-stars. They have no Barretts, no Saveas, no Perenaras, Fifitas, Asos or Laumapes, theirs is a team of solid rugby players, but no galactic super-stars.

Critically, they have no real game-breaker.

And when the super-stars come up against the journeymen, it is usually the stars that prevail. (Except last weekend……………………)

The Hurricanes will be focussed on winning at all costs, they do not want to start a season with two consecutive losses. Somehow, they managed just that record in four of the last six Super seasons, and they are tired of being teased about being slow starters.

I am expecting a ‘Canes backlash!

The Jaguares have not had a great time back at home of late. They have lost their last three home fixtures and are on something of a losing streak. Their scrum has creaked, losing 6 scrums in just two games.

And their perennial problems with discipline have not gone away. They have conceded 24 penalties so far this year, 12 in each game. (I counted 14 in their first game but my stats guru disagrees…)

Prediction.

The Hurricanes simply have far too much firepower for the Jaguares. And they are hurting after the humiliation of losing to the Bulls. I am expecting a 30 point spread, in favour of the visitors.

Teams

Jaguares: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Marcos Kremer, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Felipe Arregui.

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Manuel, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 20 Juan Manuel Leguizamon, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Juan Martin Hernandez, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves

Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Alex Fidow, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Vince Aso