Preview: Jaguares v Bulls

Date published: July 1 2016

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Martin_Landajo_Sharks_Jaguares

The Jaguares will hope the June international break has brought them a turnaround in form as they prepare to host the Bulls this Saturday.

It's been a disappointing debut season in Super Rugby for the men from Argentina as just two wins out of 12 games isn't what was expected.

Throw in the fact most of their team was given a 27-0 drubbing at the hands of France last week for the Pumas and it is a concerning time.

Why they are not performing like the Argentina side that impressed at the 2015 World Cup is a question being asked, as there was a style that had teams on the back foot. Getting back to that form ahead of the Rugby Championship simply must start in this Super Rugby run-in.

What will encourage Jaguares supporters is that their two wins this season have come against South African opposition, and with the Bulls arriving in Buenos Aires without captain Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein, Handré Pollard and several others, this may well be their third.

Another notable statistic is that the Bulls have won only two of their last 15 games outside South Africa, which could cost them a spot in the knockouts. Currently they have 32 points so they know they must buck that trend on Saturday ahead of facing the Sunwolves and Cheetahs.

Back to the Jaguares, who have a further two home games against the Highlanders and Lions to close their year, and maybe the travel factor has played its part in 2016. Asking a squad to perform to their highest standard week on week whilst covering so much distance in the air was going to be a heck of an ask so it will be interesting to see how they fare back on home turf, starting against the injury hit Bulls.

Much will rest on the shoulders of fly-half Nicolás Sánchez, who has scored 45.4 percent (64/141) of his team's points in their last four games, including 17 points in each of his last two outings while the return of the likes of Santiago Cordero and Matías Moroni is a boost.

On paper it looks like being a rare Jaguares victory in a result that could see the Bulls' hopes take a major hit with time running out in the season, especially as it seems likely that knockout rival the Waratahs will have earlier picked up the points at a depleted Sunwolves.

Players to watch: Plenty to choose from in the Jaguares XV as fly-half Nicolás Sánchez springs to mind. However, scrum-half Martín Landajo is our man to keep an eye on as his running game makes him a regular threat to opposition. Landajo drives his team around the field with his infectious attitude and if he can get them on a roll, it's going to be hard to see the Jaguares not coming away from this victorious.

For the Bulls this is an opportunity for Jesse Kriel to prove a point to South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee after his jersey went to Lionel Mapoe. While Mapoe's Super Rugby form for the Lions has been excellent this season, maybe Kriel could have done a job at full-back in place of Willie le Roux. On Saturday though it will be outside centre where the hard-running youngster looks to make a big impression.

Team news: Jaguares head coach Raul Perez has made six changes to his starting line-up. Up front there is a change at loosehead as Nahuel Chaparro Tetaz starts ahead of Santiago García Botta while Pablo Matera is in for Tomás Lezana on the flank. Matera will join Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Facundo Isa in the back-row. Manuel Montero takes Emiliano Boffelli's shirt on the wing while Santiago Cordero returns on the other sideline. Joaquín Tuculet is at full-back with a new midfield pairing seeing Jerónimo de la Fuente and Matías Moroni link up.

Bulls head coach Nollis Marais has named Lappies Labuschagne captain in place of the rested Adriaan Strauss. Labuschagne meanwhile joins Roelof Smit and number eight Arno Botha in the back-row, behind second-rows Jason Jenkins and Marvin Orie. The Bulls are minus a host of injured players for this match as forwards Trevor Nyakane, Grant Hattingh, RG Snyman, Deon Stegmann and Jacques Potgeiter and backs Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson and Warrick Gelant miss out, with Burger Odendaal returning at 12. Odendaal joins Jesse Kriel in their midfield.

Form: It was a nightmare fixture for the Jaguares last time out as they had Tomás Lavanini and Ramiro Herrera red carded against the Kings in a 29-22 loss. Before that they lost out 52–24 at the Lions which followed a 25-22 home defeat to the Sharks in a tough run of results.

After beating the Stormers 17-13 in Round 13, the Bulls were then given a hiding at Loftus by the Lions, who ran out 56-20 winners. That would have left a bad taste in the mouths of both their players and fans as they look to get back to winning ways after the Test window.

Prediction: Despite their poor form of late we think the hosts will come good against the Bulls at Estádio Jose Amalfitani. Jaguares by 3.

The teams:

Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Matías Orlando, 23 Lucas González Amorosino

Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne (c), 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Date: Saturday, July 2
Venue: Estádio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires
Kick-off: 18:40 local (21:40 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Juan Sylvestre (Argentina)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)

COMMENTS