Saturday arvo Rugby at AAMI Park kicks off the Jaguares’ tour of Australia and New Zealand, going head-to-head with a Melbourne Rebels side, refreshed after a bye.
The Rebels came down to earth with a thud in round 7 after being caught in a Hurricane (goes by the name of Ben Lam, I believe). Despite holding a respectable 19-8 lead during the first half, the Kiwi side’s class was just too much and they ran away with the game 50-19. This was not only a major disappointment to the Melbourne side, but also Australian Rugby, desperate to end the New Zealand unbeaten record. Having had two weeks to have a damn good look at themselves, the Rebels will be keen to atone for their sins.
Meanwhile the Jaguares have had a patchy start to their season. A couple of good wins at home, to the Waratahs and Lions, have been outweighed by many more disappointing losses. Even so, their effort last round against the Crusaders show, despite the unflattering score line, the can turn it on from time-to-time. Will it be this time?
Jack Maddocks moves to the wing with Dane Haylett-Petty back at fullback
The visitors currently sit fifth on the South African conference (thirteenth overall), having played 7 games for a 2-5 win/loss ratio. Meanwhile, the Rebels sit first on the Australian conference (third overall), having played 6 games for a 4-2 win/loss ratio.
The two teams have meet just the once before, during the 2017 season in round 17 at AAMI Park. In that game the Jaguares won 32-29, in what was the final match of the season for both teams.
Will Genia v Martin Landajo (scrumhalf): Both men wear the number 9 jersey regularly for the countries. With Will Genia in almost career-best form, how he is able to control the game against his opposite number could go a long way to the outcome of this match.
Amanaki Mafi v Javier Ortega Desio (Number 8): Really, I just like to see how Amanaki goes against anyone. This match is no different.
Praise be! Will Genia having an outstanding season to date with his new team
Should I bother?
Both these teams like to run with the ball, so if they are getting good pill, the game could be quite the spectacle. It’s the only afternoon game in Melbourne this season, so if you are in the vicinity, do yourselves a favour and come down to the Stockade. The weather outlook isn’t looking too promising at present, but it’s Melbourne, just wait 5 minutes – the weather will change!
So, yes, bother.
Guido Petti finds the try line against the Rebels in the last round of 2017
Rebels head coach Dave Wessels has made five changes to his team that lost to the Hurricanes in round 7. Dane Haylett-Petty returns after being sidelined with concussion in round five against the Waratahs, but a minor hamstring strain keeps Reece Hodge out of the side for the first time since round 4, 2016. Tom English will move to outside centre, next to Billy Meakes, with Jack Maddocks moving onto the wing with the return of DHP. Sam Talakai gets his first start in the front row, pushing Jermaine Ainsley to the bench. Geoff Parling will buddy up with captain Adam Coleman in the second row, with Ross Haylett-Petty, Amanaki Mafi and Dicky Hardwick making up the backrow.
Mario Ledesma, Jaguares’ head coach, has made four changes to his side that went down the previous round to the Crusaders. Hooker Agustin Creevy moves to the bench with Julian Montoya (any relation to Inigo Montoya?) getting a start in the front row as the only change to the forwards. Halfback Martin Landajo returns to partner with flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez. The back three changes with Emiliano Boffelli moving from the wing to the fullback and Ramiro Moyano and Sebastian Cancelliere taking up the wing positions.
1. Tetera Faulkner, 2. Anaru Rangi, 3. Sam Talakai, 4. Geoff Parling, 5. Adam Coleman (c), 6. Ross Haylett-Petty, 7. Richard Hardwick, 8. Amanaki Mafi, 9. Will Genia, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Marika Koroibete, 12. Billy Meakes, 13. Tom English, 14. Jack Maddocks, 15. Dane Haylett-Petty
Reserves: 16. Jordan Uelese, 17. Ben Daley, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Matt Philip, 20. Colby Fainga’a, 21. Lopeti Timani, 22. Michael Ruru, 23. Sefa Naivalu,
1. Santiago Garcia Botta, 2. Julian Montoya, 3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 4. Guido Petti, 5. Tomas Lavanini, 6. Pablo Matera (c), 7. Marcos Kremer, 8. Javier Ortega Desio, 9. Martin Landajo, 10. Nicolas Sanchez, 11. Sebastian Cancelliere, 12. Jeronimo de la Fuente, 13. Matias Orlando, 14. Ramiro Moyano, 15. Emiliano Boffelli,
Reserves: 16. Agustin Creevy, 17. Javier Diaz, 18. Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19. Matias Alemanno, 20. Tomas Lezana, 21. Gonzalo Bertranour, 22. Bautista Ezcurra, 23. Joaquin Tuculet
The Jaguares have played their last 5 games at home (where they play their best), before embarking on their long-distance tour. Historically they don’t travel well, however, it’s been a short history and they have shown they can mix it with the big boys when they are in the mood (while they lost to the Crusaders last round, the score is not a true indication of how they played). This being their first game on tour after a long flight halfway around the world, it remains to be seen if they came overcome that hurdle.
Meanwhile, the Rebels have had the bye, which came at an opportune time after a flogging by the Hurricanes. It has given them time to rest, reflect and work on their deficiencies. Given the Jaguares’ travel and inconsistencies v the Rebels home ground advantage I am saying the Rebels by 17.
Reece Hodge will not be lacing up against the Jaguares this time around.
Date: Saturday 14 April 2018
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia
Kick-off: 3.15 pm (AEST)
Referee: Nic Berry
Touchies: Will Houston & Graham Cooper
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore