WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The red-hot Jaguares won a team record fourth Super Rugby game in succession to finish their tour of Australia and New Zealand in perfection with a 23-19 upset of the Waikato Chiefs in Rotorua on Friday.
A first half try to winger Ramiro Moyano and a penalty try after the break were enough for the in-form Argentines to claim their first ever win over the depleted home side.
Having beaten the Auckland Blues for the first time at Eden Park last week, the Jaguares will head back to Buenos Aires with a perfect 4-0 record for the tour, their sixth win of the season and a huge confidence boost as they bid for a maiden berth in the playoffs.
“I think on this match, totally, it was a great defence,” young Jaguares lock Guido Petti Pagadizabal said.
“And when we had the ball would took advantage of some opportunities ... We want to return to our house and keep continuing the same path.”
Forced into a late reshuffle by injuries to Sam Cane and Lachlan Boshier before kickoff, the Chiefs were kept try-less until rookie loose forward Jesse Parete crossed after the final hooter.
On a tough night for the hosts, they were down to 13 men early in the second half after lock Michael Allardice and Liam Messam were yellow-carded in quick succession.
With Messam switched to the openside flank and Brodie Retallick drafted in late in the reserves, they struggled for cohesion and a handling error cost them the match’s first try.
Moyano barged over near the right corner to give the Jaguares the lead in the 27th minute, after the ball was swept forward from a midfield turnover.
Chiefs livewire Damien McKenzie nosed his team 12-10 in front at halftime with a couple of late penalties.
However, 10 minutes after the re-start, the game swung on its head when Allardice put an arm out to obstruct a leaping Tomas Lezana and ended up flipping the flanker on his head.
Allardice was sent to the bin for 10 minutes and Messam joined him two minutes later for collapsing a maul as the Jaguares rumbled near the line.
The resulting penalty try put the visitors 20-12 up against 13 men for eight minutes but the Chiefs held on valiantly to stay in the game.
A botched clearing kick gave the hosts possession deep in attack and fullback Charlie Ngatai burst through the Jaguares line to cross near the right corner.
The try was disallowed, however, when the television match official plucked out a line-ball knock-on by replacement prop Nathan Harris.
Nicolas Sanchez slotted a second penalty with 10 minutes left, leaving the Chiefs needing two tries to overhaul them, but the Jaguares defended stoutly to close out their finest win of the season.
Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty