Preview: Jaguares v Chiefs

Date published: March 18 2016

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Arguably the game of the weekend will finish off Round Four of Super Rugby on Saturday when the Jaguares host the Chiefs in Buenos Aires.

Following a bye week after returning from a two-game tour of South Africa which yielded a win and a loss, the Jaguares now to get run out infront of their home supporters for the first time for what is sure to be a very special occasion at Vélez Sarsfield, and also a sell-out.

There's no doubting the talent the Jaguares have in their squad but at the same time they are acclimatising to this level, one they look designed for even if there are some creases to be ironed out.

Discipline immediately springs to mind after four yellow cards in their first two games, a setback they overcame against the Cheetahs but one which proved too much of a hinderance against the Sharks. Oddly enough their scrum has also been sloppy, a surprise given Argentina's pedigree in that area of the set-piece.

That all said there have been sparkling individual performances so far from Santiago Cordero, Rodrigo Báez and Matías Orlando in particular coupled with the side's persistent desire to offload everything they get their hands on.

Playing on the edge in that way will mean there are some losses, but the Jaguares will never be accused of being boring.

The Chiefs ethos isn't too dissimilar and their backs feasted upon the Kings last weekend in Port Elizabeth, no one more so than Damian McKenzie, who is in red-hot form at full-back and off the kicking tee.

Super Rugby's top points scorer has also beaten the most defenders in the competition to date.

McKenzie in turn has taken the spotlight of Aaron Cruden as the All Blacks number ten feels his way back into Super Rugby after his ACL rupture, and against the Kings we started to see glimpses again of how lethal a threat Cruden can be running the game from fly-half.

Joint-top try scorers in the competition, the Chiefs lead the way when it comes to clean breaks and metres made so far, while their set-piece has been steady.

Something for Dave Rennie's squad to take heart from – the Chiefs have won their last two away matches outside of New Zealand by a combined score line of 82-27.

Players to watch: It's no coincidence that the best hookers in Super Rugby this year have been the Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and Argentina captain Agustín Creevy. Not just a sharp operator at the set-piece, Creevy's ball-carrying, offloading and work at the breakdown are all first class. He will relish leading his side out infront of a sell-out crowd on Saturday.

Two tries for Sam Cane against the Kings took the All Blacks number seven-in-waiting level with the rest of Super Rugby's leading try scorers on three, reminding us what a threat he can be from close-range either off the back of a rolling maul or searching for gaps off the fringes. It's the start of a big year for Cane, and he looks ready for the challenge.

Team news: Juan Martín Hernández and Juan Manuel Leguizamón make welcome first starts for the Jaguares. Up front Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro comes in for Ramiro Herrera, Tomás Lavanini is replaces by Matías Alemanno, Leguizamón comes in for Rodrigo Báez. Hernández partners with Jerónimo de la Fuente which sees Santiago González Iglesias and Matias Moroni being named on the bench. Santiago Cordero moves from full-back to the wing and Jaoquin Tuculet slots in at number 15.

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has rung the changes. Hika Elliot and Hiroshi Yamashita come into the front row, Tom Sanders returns to the back row as he joins co-captain Sam Cane and Japan number eight Michael Leitch. Three changes in the backline see Tawera Kerr-Barlow start at scrum-half with Sam McNicol coming in on the wing. Anton Lienert-Brown also takes over from Seta Tamanivalu at outside centre for his first start of the season.

Form: Everything went wrong in the early stages in the Jaguares' first ever Super Rugby game against the Cheetahs, but they rallied back from those yellow cards and the big deficit on the scoreboard to clinch a narrow 34-33 win. Similar setbacks in terms of discipilne hit them hard again facing the Sharks when this time the scoreboard didn't go their way, losing 19-15, before last week's bye.

Cane's late try secured a 27-21 late win for the Chiefs over the Crusaders in Christchurch to kick off their season before they were stunned in a high-scoring loss to the Lions, 32-36, back at home in Waikato. They got back on track however with that enormous thrashing of the Kings last Saturday, scoring seven tries in a 58-24 victory. 

Prediction: Major test for the Jaguares at home to kick off life in Super Rugby. Given how the Chiefs' scrum faltered against the Lions, they have to hold firm here. The Chiefs, particularly the boot of McKenzie, will punish their hosts if they don't drastically drop the penalty count from the first two games. Chiefs by six.

The teams:

Jaguares: 15 Jaoquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 12 Juan M. Hernandez, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan M Leguizamon, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavannini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Roberto Tejerizo, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Matías Moroni

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sam McNicol, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (cc), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Johan Bardoul, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Seta Tamanivalu, 23 Glen Fisiiahi

Date: Saturday, March 19
Venue: Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires
Kick-off: 18:40 local (21:40 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown, Federico Anselmi
TMO: Santiago Borsani

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