Super Rugby Match Preview

Saturday 24th February, 2018

 

Lions vs Jaguares

Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg

Kickoff: 15h05 Local Time, 13h05, 15h05 SA Time

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Jaco Pretorius (South Africa)

TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)

 

The last two seasons established something of a pattern for the Jaguares as they contested their two opening fixtures of each season. In the first game of each season they produce a scrappy, determined effort, and always a winning effort. In 2016 they beat the Cheetahs 34 – 33, in 2017 they beat the Kings 39 – 26.

And then they lose their second game. The second game of 2016 was against the Sharks, and the Jaguares lost a close one in Durban by 19 – 15. In 2017 the trend continued, after their first game win, they lost the second, another scrambling affair, to the Stormers 32-25.

This year, their third in the competition, started with last week’s 28 – 20 loss to the Stormers. This is the first time the Jaguares have lost in the first round of competition.

Will they continue to reverse their record of the first two years and win their second game rather than losing it again?

The Lions, at Ellis Park, are not going to be an easy fixture for the visitors. They have already been away from home for more than three weeks, having spent time in camp in the Northern Transvaal, including a warm-up game against the Bulls. The Jaguares have never been great travellers, they simply cannot sustain their efforts during long periods of living out of suitcases. Will their decision to come out to South Africa early, ostensibly in order to acclimatise, backfire as touring fatigue kicks in?

The Lions have named a side which includes Andries Ferreira in the second row. He was named to start against the Sharks a week ago but withdrew before the game, and was replaced by Marvin Orie. Orie drops right out of the Match-day 23 this week.

The rest of last week’s starting XV remains unchanged. There is just one change on the bench, with Marco Jansen van Vuren included as reserve scrum-half. If he comes onto the field, it will be his Super Rugby debut. Flanker Marnus Schoeman drops out of the Match-day 23 to make room for van Vuren.

 The Jaguares have two changes to their starting line-up for this one.

Guido Petti takes the place of Matias Alemanno, who drops to the bench. Bautista Delguy starts on the right wing, instead of Emiliano Boffelli – who moves to the left wing, with Ramiro Moyano also moving to the bench.

Juan Martin Hernandez drops out of the replacements, his place is taken is by Leonardo Senatore.

Discussion

I have my doubts about the wisdom of sending the Jaguares squad out to South Africa so early. Unless they have found some extra motivation somewhere, they will be starting to feel a little ragged and homesick. Nobody wants to be away from home for too long.

Of course, there is the alternative argument. The long time away from home, in a team environment, was meant to be more than just acclimatisation. It was a team building, bonding time, allowing the Jaguares to gel as a team.

There is a flaw in this argument – The Jaguares have been together for two years, essentially an unchanged squad in all that time. Surely, they would have bonded already?

The Lions made a powerful statement last weekend when they laid down a marker for all that want to succeed in Super Rugby 2018. You will have to beat the Lions first! Ellis Park is their home ground, and you will need to do something special to beat them there. They beat a game Sharks outfit by 26 – 19 in a game where their pack made a strong statement about their intentions in 2018.

They did have some wobbly moments along the way. Their lineout was seriously dysfunctional, losing four of their own throws in the process. They will need Malcom Marx to step up and sort this out as a matter of urgency as wobbles seemed to be his alone.

They also lacked the edge one expects from the Lions at the breakdown. Kwagga Smith and Malcolm Marx were just a shade slower than expected, and they missed the grunt that Jacques van Rooyen and Andries Ferrier usually add to this phase of the game.

A week ago, the Jaguares were very good with the ball in hand, but often ran out of options, ending up in a heap close to the touchline and nowhere to go. One must add that they were allowed acres of ball carrying space by a Stormers outfit whose default on the day was attack, not defence. The Jaguare scrum was solid, but not great, while their lineouts were spot on.

There is a marked difference between the game plans of the two teams. The Lions play a direct running game, based on multiple layers of runners and decoy runners, with slick handling and quick passes, taking the ball wide when the spaces open up. The Jaguares feed off scraps. They look for the intercept, the missed pass, the turnover, the dropped ball, the inaccuracies, and then they pounce on the ball, and go on one of their marauding raids up the field. If given space, they can be very dangerous.

Discipline remains an Argentinean problem. (Maybe discipline is not a problem, it certainly does not seem to bother them much?) I counted 14 penalties last week, and that is around 6 too many!

Prediction:

The Lions simply have too much firepower for this Argentinean outfit. The Jaguares have good players in some positions, but the bulk of the team is made up of journeymen players, and that will not be good enough to beat the Lions.

The Lions, by at least 20. And if they click, it could be a whole lot more.

 Teams:

 Lions – 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Marco Janse van Rensburg, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

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, 6 Pablo Matera (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Felipe Arregui

Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Manuel, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Leonardo Senatore, 23 Ramiro Moyano