Jaguares outplay Lions to continue good start

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Argentina's Joaquin Tuculet (R) is tackled by South Africa's Warren Whiteley (2-R) and Jacques Nel during their match in Buenos Aires on March 11, 2017

Argentina's Joaquin Tuculet (R) is tackled by South Africa's Warren Whiteley (2-R) and Jacques Nel during their match in Buenos Aires on March 11, 2017

Full-back Joaquin Tuculet scored after five minutes to give Jaguares of Argentina a lead they built impressively to defeat Golden Lions of South Africa 36-24 in Super Rugby Saturday.

The Buenos Aires-based outfit disappointed in their debut season, winning only four of 15 matches last year and never seriously challenging for a quarter-finals place.

But it could be a different story this season after their second victory in three matches, having won convincingly and lost narrowly on a tour of South Africa.

Lacking unavailable fly-half Elton Jantjies and centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, the Lions were a pale shadow of the team that finished runners-up last season.

Skipper and No. 8 Warren Whiteley conceded that his team were no match for the Jaguares at Estadio Jose Amalfitani in the Argentine capital.

"Congratulations to the Jaguares -- they were much better than us," said a contender for the Springbok captaincy this season with Adriaan Strauss retired.

"They dominated us physically in a very tough match and now we must recover quickly for a home game against the Queensland Reds next weekend.

"We gave several youngsters a chance because some first choices were unavailable and the experience of playing in Argentina will do them good."

It was the Lions first loss after defeating compatriots the Central Cheetahs away and the New South Wales Waratahs of Australia at home.

The scoreline flattered the visitors as Jaguares fly-half Nicolas Sanchez missed four of 10 shots at goal and the Lions scored two late tries after flanker Tomas Lezana was yellow-carded.

Lions lock Andries Ferreira was sin-binned during the first half and a similar punishment was given to hooker Robbie Coetzee during the second half.

Sanchez was twice fortunate not to be yellow-carded by New Zealand referee Nick Briant in a bruising battle.

Jaguares led 21-7 at the break and Sanchez sealed success for the South Americans with a try that stretched the lead to 24 points by the hour mark.

Tuculet, winger Ramiro Moyano, centre Jeronimo de la Fuente and Sanchez scored tries and the fly-half kicked two conversions and four penalties.

Whiteley (2), prop Jacques van Rooyen and hooker Malcolm Marx crossed the try-line for the Lions and Shaun Reynolds and Jaco van der Walt kicked conversions.