Melbourne (AFP) – Argentina’s Jaguares pulled off a massive upset over Australian conference Super Rugby leaders Melbourne Rebels 25-22 while the Auckland Blues crushed the winless Sunwolves in Tokyo in Super Rugby on Saturday.
The Jaguares put behind their gruelling travel schedule to storm back from 14-3 down at half-time to overhaul the Rebels in the second half.
The Rebels had a chance to snatch a draw in the final minute after pounding the Jaguares defence over 34 phases, but decided to go for an all or nothing shot at a winning try only for the ball to come loose and enable the Argentinians to hang on for a big victory.
“It was a tough week for us, a long trip, but we wanted to win this game, I think we wanted to win it more than them,” Jaguares skipper Pablo Matera said.
“It was very difficult, the Rebels have one of the best attacks in the tournament, but we trained all week on our defence and we showed the benefits of that in the last 20 minutes.”
It is the Jaguares third win of the season from eight matches and the Rebels third loss from seven matches and a big blow to their hopes of holding onto their lead in the Australian conference.
The Rebels looked to be heading for victory when Wallaby scrum-half general Will Genia engineered two tries with linebreaks but once he left the field with hamstring trouble early in the second half, the home side lacked direction.
The Jaguares, static in the first half, hit back with tries to wingers Sebastian Cancelliere and Ramiro Moyano, while Olympic sevens player Bautista Ezcurra scored the try to put them in front six minutes from the end.
In Tokyo, Auckland fought back to down the Sunwolves 24-10 for only their second win of the season, with Jordan Hyland grabbing two tries.
Snapping a three-game losing streak, the Blues scored four tries to earn a bonus point but are still at the bottom of the New Zealand conference.
The struggling Sunwolves, who scored only one try, stretched their losing streak to seven games and stay bottom-ranked in the Australian conference.
The Blues hit the front in the second half as Akira Ioane made an excellent run and crossed the line with Stephen Perofeta nailing the conversion.
The Blues dominated the second half with two more tries, including the second by Hyland in the final minutes of the game. The Sunwolves, losing stamina, faced the Blues’ tough defence, failing to post any score in the second half.