The Road Safety Western Force have defeated the Jaguares 16-6 at Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires in a fiery, hard fought contest that went right down to the wire.
The game took on an extremely physical style from the outset with tempers flaring on multiple occasions. Handling errors and turnovers cost both sides in the first 40 minutes with the Force taking a slender 3-0 lead into the break.
In what could be a season-defining performance, the Force dug deep to keep the Jaguares at bay before Alex Newsome and Isireli Naisarani scored to deliver the Force’s first away victory of the season.
Skipper Heath Tessmann credited the work of the team’s bench in closing out the result.
“We are very happy,” he said. “We knew that it was going to be an excellent Jaguares team that came out here tonight. We knew that if we ground it out and stuck to our game plan then it would open up for us.”
“I think our bench came on and did an excellent job and really closed out the game for us.
“We will celebrate this win and then get back to Perth to get ready for the Highlanders but right now we will just enjoy the victory.”
With the majority of the rugby in-between the two 22 metre lines in the first 15 minutes both sides looked to attack but were let down by handling errors.
On their first venture inside the Jaguares 22 the Force earned a penalty and opted to take the scrum before going blindside only for Richard Hardwick to knock-on over the line.
A yellow card to Richie Arnold for an early tackle handed the hosts a prime attacking opportunity with a lineout just five metes from the line but spectacular maul defense and a breakdown turnover from Heath Tessmann kept the hosts at bay.
Still down a man the Force ventured into the Jaguares 22 and showed great patience to go 13 phases and earn a penalty. Ian Prior slotted kick to break the deadlock and give the Force a 3-0 lead after 36 minutes.
The Jaguares looked to be in for the first try of the match on the stroke of halftime with Joaquin Tuculet darting for the corner but a desperate try-saving tackle from Curtis Rona denied the fullback and kept to Force ahead 3-0 at halftime.
The Force wasted no time after the change of ends with substitute outside back James Verity-Amm crossing after just thirty seconds following a spectacular linebreak from Semisi Masirewa only to be called back for obstruction.
Continuing to apply pressure Verity-Amm broke through the defence and set up Richard Hardwick but the No.8 was held up over the line.
After surviving the onslaught and turning to momentum Juan Martin Hernandez scored the first points of the contest for the hosts in the 49th minute following a penalty for a high tackle, locking the scores at 3-3.
With the game on a knife’s edge the Force held out the Jaguares before applying massive pressure on a Jaguares scrum to earn a penalty 41-metres out directly in front. Ian Prior kept his cool to knock the kick over and put the Force up 6-3 after 60-minutes.
The Argentineans answered quickly taking a shot from directly in front just five metres out after the Force were caught offside, leveling the scores at 6-6.
Once again the Force went on the attack, showing great patience they wore down the Jagaures' defence before Ian Prior hit a gap at the edge of a ruck and set up Alex Newsome to go over in the right corner. Prior couldn’t convert to keep the score at 11-6.
With the game on the line and a host of Force substitutes on the park the inexperienced youngsters stepped up with Newsome taking the Force deep into Jagaures territory.
The Western Australians made the territory count with Isireli Naisarani barreling his way over for his maiden Super Rugby try. Prior couldn’t convert to have the Force leading 16-6 with five minutes to play.
Needing to score twice the Jaguares went searching for points but the Force stood firm to close the game out and take a well deserved 10 point victory away from South America.
The men in blue return to Perth next week to take on the Highlanders on Saturday, 20 May.