Super Rugby Match Preview
Saturday, 10th March 2018
Jaguares vs Waratahs
Venue: Estadio José Amalfitani Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
Kickoff: 18h40 Local Time, 21h40 GMT, 23h40 SA Time
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Pablo Deluca (Argentina)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)
There are some rugby games that I look forward to watching. I schedule my day so that I can be near my television when the game is about to start. I have my trusty mug full of coffee ready, a whisky and soda perhaps if the sun has passed the yardarm. The anticipation grows as the kick-off nears, and then I get lost in the game.
This is not one of those games.
Neither side has produced anything that suggests that they will be worth watching at somewhere close to midnight on a Saturday evening. My choice is a good book, a mug of coffee, and a comfortable chair with a good reading light.
I will record the game on my trusty PVR and then play it back, finger poised over the fast-forward button, take some notes, and then delete the game from the electronic memory, consigning it to history. (Unless there is something really worthwhile to warrant keeping the recording, an earthquake, or a meteor strike, perhaps?)
Most usually we wait for the Jaguares to announce their team for the weekend’s fixture. They have something of a tradition of ignoring the SANZAAR regulation that the selected team must be released to the media at least 48 hours before the game. (The Stormers were pretty good at ignoring the rule too, but that was when Allister Coetzee was in charge, they have fixed this problem under Fleck.)
This week the Jaguares surprised us by releasing their team before their visitors, the Waratahs, released theirs.
(Okay, so I am struggling to find something interesting to say about this fixture…………)
The Waratahs have just one change to their starting XV. Alex Newsome replaces Andrew Kellaway on the right wing. On the bench, hooker Tolu Latu comes in for Hugh Roach, scrum-half Nick Duffy replaces the injured Mitchell Short and Taqele Naiyaravoro joins the bench.
The Jaguares have also gone for some selection consistency. Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias replaces Bautista Ezcurra at inside centre in the backline. Up front lock Tomas Lavanini comes in for Marcos Kremer, who shifts to the back-row in place of Tomas Lezana. Kremer takes Javier Ortega Desio’s seven jersey as the latter moves into the number eight spot.
Santiago Botta, Felipe Ezcurra and Joaquin Diaz Bonilla come onto the bench.
The Jaguares have their worst start to a season since joining Super Rugby. Three losses on the trot is a new record for them. The Waratahs have won one and drawn one, but both games should have gone the other way.
If we are honest, neither side has made much progress in the offseason between 2017 and 2018. It has been an all-too-familiar repetition of the same old soup served up in the past. Dreary, unpalatable stuff, even to a starving man.
The Jaguares really need a win if they want to get anything going in 2018, as one of their next two fixtures is likely to be equally problematic, even though both are at home in Buenos Aires! The will face the Reds and the Lions next, before going into a bye week. As matters stand they could be going into the bye with a dismal winless record!
The Waratahs might be happy with their 2018 record, but that win over the Stormers was a lucky one, and the draw against the Sharks was an aberration. The pressure on the ‘Tahs might feel as if it has lifted a little, but a realistic analysis says that they are still way off the team they could, perhaps should, be.
They are not great tourists. Consider that they are winless in their last seven games outside Australia, failing to take a single competition point in five of those matches!
On the positive side, for the Waratahs, is that they are playing a team with a truly dismal defensive record in 2018, having slipped more tackles than anyone else in the competition. My stats services says 109 tackles missed and 365 made. They are missing 23% of their tackles, a truly abysmal record! (I cannot find a better word than abysmal. Atrocious, perhaps?)
The Waratahs have the strike runners to make the Jaguares pay for defensive lapses, the likes of Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau can be amongst the best when they are on form and given space to move.
Yet, sitting in the back of every Waratah mind is the fact that the Jaguares beat them 40-27 in the last weeks of last year’s competition!
And that will give the Jaguares hope. They know they can, and have, beaten the ‘Tahs….
I am going against the bookies on this one. The Jaguares will win by 9.
Jaguares: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 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 Felipe Arregui
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Santiago Botta, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Juan Martin Leguizamon, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alex Newsome, 13 Lalakai Foketi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Michael Wells, 5 Tom Staniforth, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Harry Johnson-Holmes, 18 Kalivati Tawake, 19 Nick Palmer, 20 Will Miller, 21 Nick Duffy, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro