The Jaguares picked up only their third victory of the Super Rugby season on Saturday as they beat the Bulls 29-11 in Buenos Aires.
Pablo Matera and Agustín Creevy (2) scored the home side’s three tries in the rain at Estádio Jose Amalfitani, with Piet van Zyl responding for the Bulls, whose hopes of making the play-offs took a backward step.
With the Sharks losing to the Lions earlier in the day, the men from Pretoria had a chance to move into the wildcard position in Argentina.
But they were well beaten by the hosts as the gritty Jaguares better adapted to the terrible conditions to claim a much-needed victory.
The hosts led 15-6 at the break thanks to Matera and Creevy’s tries with the Bulls having Francois Brummer’s penalties on the board.
Brummer struck first in the tenth minute when a Jaguares player was caught offside tracking back, but Sánchez hit back soon after.
A minute later the Jaguares were over for the game’s first try and it was a strong finish from flank Matera, who rolled the contact before grounding. Sánchez added the simple conversion to give the Jaguares a 10-3 advantage which, on a night like the one in question, was a healthy lead.
In the 22nd minute that cushion was increased thanks to an excellent line-out drive that saw Creevy at the tail for a 25 metres surge. This time Sánchez was off-target from the right-hand side, meaning it was a 15-3 buffer with the Bulls now desperately needing a response.
They should have closed the gap on 30 minutes but Brummer missed a simple penalty. He made no such mistake four minutes later for 15-6, which was how it remained going into the sanctuary of sheltered dressing rooms.
Sánchez crucially got the first points of the second period when he slotted a penalty after Rudy Paige made a high tackle on 48 minutes.
And when Creevy crossed for his second try, in similar style to his first, suddenly the hosts had raced into a 23-6 lead nearing the hour.
But then up stepped replacement scrum-half Piet van Zyl for the Bulls to give them hope when he fought his way over from a quick tap to make it 23-11 on 60 minutes. Despite Brummer’s missed conversion, the visitors still required two scores if they were to claim the win.
It wasn’t to be as errors and a superior opposition on the night led to Sánchez kicking two further penalties that wrapped up the result.
Tries: Matera, Creevy 2
Pen: Sánchez 4
Try: Van Zyl
Pen: Brummer 2
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
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Juan Sylvestre (Argentina)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)