BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – The Jaguares rode a blistering start and an assured finish to a dominant 39-7 victory over Australia’s ACT Brumbies to reach their first Super Rugby final in only their fourth season in the competition on Friday.
Steely defence, clinical finishing and a pitch perfect gameplan gave the Argentines an 11th win in their last 12 matches and a place in next week’s final against the Canterbury Crusaders or the Wellington Hurricanes.
Tries from former Brumbies scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli and lock Tomas Lavanini helped them to 20 points in the first 20 minutes before centre Matias Orlando crossed twice and fullback Emiliano Boffelli once after the break.
“We knew we had an opportunity and we came out and took it from the first minute,” said lock Guido Petti.
“We have a match next week, maybe we have it here again?”
The nine-times champions Crusaders will host the final if they beat the Hurricanes in the other, all-New Zealand, semi-final in Christchurch on Saturday. If the Hurricanes win, the Jaguares will have home advantage next Saturday.
Hooker Folau Fainga crossed for the Canberra-based Brumbies at the end of the first half but the visitors never recovered from a poor start and made too many errors in what was their 10th Super Rugby semi-final.
“Really disappointed with that one,” said flyhalf Christian Lealiifano, who was playing his 150th and final match for the Brumbies.
“They put us under a lot of pressure, we just couldn’t get back on top. They played very well tonight.”
The Jaguares struck first in the fourth minute when, with the referee playing advantage, flyhalf Joaquin Diaz Bonilla put up a speculative high kick which was missed by three defenders, allowing Cubelli to pounce and roll over the line for a try.
Bonilla, who was a perfect six from six from the kicking tee, added the conversion and two penalties to give the hosts a 13-point buffer with the Brumbies yet to enjoy any sustained possession.
When the Australian conference champions finally did get hold of the ball, the Jaguares immediately forced a turnover and Lavanini was soon barging his way over the line for a converted try that extended the lead to 20-0. With Lavanini and Petti wreaking havoc with their best attacking weapon, the lineout, the road back into the game for the 2001 and 2004 champions looked steep.
The visitors finally got clean lineout possession in an attacking position on the stroke of halftime and although the rolling maul was illegally stopped, hooker Fainga’a wrestled the ball to the line for his 12th try of the season.
The Brumbies came out firing after the break but the mistakes continued and a grubber kick from Lealiifano was scooped up by winger Matias Moroni, who raced 60 metres before finding Orlando inside him for the score.
With the 20-point lead restored, the 31,000 crowd at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium were in full voice and the noise got louder after 62 minutes when Orlando grabbed his second try with a brilliant individual effort.
The Jaguares outside backs have been a large part of their success this season and Boffelli benefited from yet another turnover to grab the fifth try with only a couple of minutes left on the clock.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)