Super Rugby Review: Jaguares

Date published: July 18 2016

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With the Super Rugby quarter-finalists now decided we take a look at those teams who missed out. Next up, the Jaguares.

Four wins from 15 games has to be viewed as a disappointing season for one of the competition's new-boys, especially with the quality they have in their team. Internationals aplenty were involved week in week out for the Jaguares but performances were simply not up to scratch.

It was frustrating viewing not just for their supporters but also the neutral, who had seen Argentina play some exceptional rugby in last year's World Cup in England and Wales. While they showed glimpses of attacking class and hunger throughout, defensively they were simply not up to a solid enough standard as they leaked 51 tries, with only the Kings, Sunwolves, Rebels, Reds and Force holding a worse record.

An opening round victory at the Cheetahs was expected but then followed a nightmare run of seven defeats – to the Sharks, Chiefs, Stormers, Blues, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Sunwolves – that all but ended their play-off aspirations not even halfway into the Super Rugby campaign.

Some suggested they were trying too hard to impress and ultimately forced aspects of their game, which opposition capitalised on. Throw in the testing situation of their travel schedule and there were some steep learning curves for the Jaguares that they will take on for 2017.

Their biggest win came after that run of losses as they ran the Kings ragged in Buenos Aires, winning 73-27 in an 11-try victory, before a bye came at the wrong time. They returned to action with a home loss to the Sharks and then came a hammering in Johannesburg to the Lions.

It was then arguably their toughest defeat to take – the Sunwolves one also being a challenger – as they lost at the Kings. It was a game marred by two red cards for the Argentines but they still pushed hard and were unlucky not to win as only three late tries saw them lose.

Weather conditions meant their strong set-piece came to the fore against the Bulls and it worked out well in Round 15 as they claimed just their third victory of the season. Agustín Creevy crossed twice in the game and in fact finished as their top try-scorer this year on six.

The Highlanders were simply too good the following week before they beat a second-string Lions side to end their season on a winning note. However it will be a campaign remembered for sloppy mistakes and under-par performances as the rugby world knows they can do a lot better.

Best player: Came of age during the latter stages of the season, Facundo Isa looks the real deal at number eight. Just 22 years of age, he has plenty of improvements in his game to come but all the signs point to Isa being a world class back-row. He scored four tries this year and will hope to shine in the upcoming Rugby Championship for Argentina. He's sure to learn a lot from the likes of Juan Manuel Leguizamón.

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