While the Lions have been a far superior team overall when compared to the men from Argentina in the last two years – playing in the final in both 2016 and 2017 – the Jaguares have actually been one of the few teams to trouble the Lions since entering the Super Rugby picture a few seasons ago.
And they’re sure to be just as difficult a team to break down today when they meet at Ellis Park, from 3pm.
In 2016 the Lions won 52-24 at home in the Jaguares’ debut season, only running away with the tie in the second half, while in the return match in Buenos Aires it was the home team that triumphed 34-22, albeit against a weakened Lions side.
And last year, the Lions just edged the visitors 24-21, with only a late converted try by Ruan Ackermann and a 77th minute penalty by Elton Jantjies saving the home team’s blushes. In the return match it was a repeat of the 2016 result; the Jaguares finishing on top, 36-24.
The men from South America seem to enjoy the risk-reward type of rugby the Lions play, which gives them an opportunity to also play attacking ball-in-hand rugby. They thrive on turnover ball in an open game and will hope for a fast-paced, free-flowing affair in Joburg today.
“They’re a dangerous team so we’re certainly going to have to protect the ball very well,” stressed Lions boss Swys de Bruin.
The visitors will also be full of confidence at this early stage of their campaign.
They gave the Stormers a big fright last Saturday and had they shown a little more discipline and patience in the latter stages of the tie, might have picked up a rare away win.
They’ll be buoyed by their showing, but that said, the Lions, too, will be upbeat about making it two from two.
They were a bit rusty against the Sharks first-up last weekend but showed enough in both their attacking game and defence to be confident they’ll have the edge today.
Their scrumming was particularly impressive - something that’ll stand them in good stead against the Jaguares - and overall should have more quality and skill than their opponents to boss the game.
It won’t be easy though and expect the Jaguares to try and play a disrupting style of rugby, targeting the line-outs and breakdowns, and even the off-side line to unsettle their hosts.
It’s often the plan they adopt, and it often works well for them, but if they’re to have any chance of registering a win they’re going to have to play a smart, disciplined game - something they are not always capable of doing. And it’s something De Bruin said his side will target: “We have to try and force mistakes out of them, something we might be able to do if we hang onto the ball for long periods. Maybe we can even force some disciplinary issues out of them as well.”
The Lions will be very happy to just pick up the win today anything more will be a bonus.