The Jaguares are elated at the final whistle after coming back from 14-3 down to beat the Rebels. Photo: Hamish Blair/EPA

MELBOURNE – Argentina’s Jaguares pulled off a massive upset over Australian conference Super Rugby leaders Melbourne Rebels 25-22 on Saturday.

The Jaguares put behind their gruelling travel schedule to storm back from 14-3 down at halftime 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 on to their lead in the Australian conference.

The Rebels looked to be heading for victory when Wallaby scrumhalf general Will Genia engineered two tries with line-breaks.

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 wings Sebastian Cancelliere and Ramiro Moyano, while Olympic sevens player Bautista Ezcurra scored the try to put them in front six minutes from the end.