The Blues remain winless in this year’s Super Rugby tournament after they went down 19-23 to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires in Round Three.
The home side outscored their opponents by three tries to one in what was a see-saw encounter at the Jose Amalfitani Stadium.
The defeat was the Blues’ third in row this year which will certainly put pressure on head coach Leon MacDonald.
The Blues opened the scoring with an Otere Black penalty to make 3-0 in the third minute.
The home side were level three minutes later when Joaquin Diaz Bonilla knocked over a penalty before Black restored the visitors lead with another three-pointer shortly after.
Despite the numerous attacking forays in both halves, both teams struggled to find the trylines and instead the Jaguares were level again in the 15th minute via another penalty by Diaz Bonilla.
The Blues had their fair share of chances to score the first try of the game after that, but some stern Jaguares defence kept them out.
Instead they had to settle for three-pointers. However, Black squandered two straightforward kicks around the half-hour mark.
The Jaguares then had Tomas Lavanini sent to the sin bin for no arms in a tackle and Black was able to put his team in front with the penalty.
However, it was the Jaguares who scored the first try of the game when Ramiro Moyano was given acres of space in the Blues’ half to sprint in for the score in the 38th minute.
At half-time the home side had a narrow 11-9 lead.
After sustained pressure inside the Jaguares’ half at the beginning of the second half, the Blues eventually found themselves back in front with yet another penalty from Black.
The see-saw nature of the match continued, and it was Moyano again who ripped open the Blues’ defence to run in for a try in the 65th minute which Diaz Bonilla converted.
With 15 minutes left on the clock the Jaguares had a four-point lead.
The home side then put some daylight between themselves and the Blues when replacement prop Julian Montoya found his way to the line after a powerful driving maul inside the visitors’ 22.
With the clock winding down, Dalton Papali’i kept the Blues in the game when he picked up a loose ball in the Jaguares’ half to sprint in for his team’s first try of the game. Black stepped up to add the two extra points with the conversion.
The Blues had opportunities late in the game to snatch victory, but they could not hold onto possession near the Jaguares’ tryline.
Tries: Moyano 2, Montoya
Con: Diaz Bonilla
Pens: Diaz Bonilla 2
Pens: Black 4
Yellow card: Tomas Lavanini (Jaguares, 33 – foul play, no arms in the tackle)
Jaguares: 15 Juan Cruz Mallia, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Matias Orlando (captain), 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti Pagadizaval, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Mayco Vivas.
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 18 Enrique Pieretto Heilan, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Rodrigo Bruni, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 23 Joaquin Tuculet.
Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tanielu Tele’a, 13 Thomas Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Joshua Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Matt Matich, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Sonny Bill Williams.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)