JOHANNESBURG - The Lions will start as the heavy favourites in their Super Rugby quarter-final at Ellis Park on Saturday, but rugby writer Jacques van der Westhuyzen lists four reasons why the Jaguares should not be written off
They know how to beat the Lions
Ok so maybe the Jaguares haven’t done all that well at Ellis Park in the past - their last visit to the ground ended in a 27-47 defeat in round two in February - but they also know they’ve got it in them to beat the Lions, having done so three times in a row, in Buenos Aires. In 2016 the Jaguares won 34-22, last year they triumphed 36-24 and earlier this season they also won, 49-35. Also, last year at Ellis Park, the Lions just sneaked home 24-21, so the visitors this week will have belief in their ability to get past the Lions.
A road trip is no issue
The Argentines have won nine matches and are in the playoffs, but also, finally, have lived up to their billing as potential conference challengers. Travelling for long periods doesn’t seem to worry them. Earlier this season they went on a four-match winning streak in Australia and New Zealand, beating the Rebels, Brumbies, Blues and Chiefs. After a week off, they smashed the Bulls and Sharks at home.
The mercurial No 10 is very much the heartbeat of his team and when he’s on song the Jaguares get an extra gear. If it’s not him doing the playing, it’s the men running off his right and left shoulders, taking the team forward and onto the next phase. Sanchez is key for the South Americans, in attack and as exit kicker and also as goal-kicker. The Lions will have to maintain good discipline otherwise he will punish them with his boot.
X-factor everywhere you look
While there is no doubting they possess a powerful, yet very mobile, pack, it is the back division of the Jaguares that makes them such a dangerous act. How they love to counter-attack from deep and run at the opposition in open play ... and, boy, do they have the right players to complement their style. Fullback Emiliano Boffelli is among the top three for tries scored (10), while wing Bautista Delguy (9) is just as lethal. Add Matias Moroni, Jeronimo de la Fuente and Ramiro Moyano to the mix and you’ve got one heck of an attacking unit.