Jaguares get 1st win in Pretoria, Folau breaks try record
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Domingo Miotti's electrifying impact off the bench and first tries in Super Rugby delivered a memorable win for Argentina's Jaguares against the Bulls on Saturday, while Israel Folau's 60th try gave him the competition's all-time record.
Miotti changed the game after coming on to spur the Jaguares to a come-from-behind 22-20 win in the last match and surprise result of round eight.
The 22-year-old replacement flyhalf scored two tries in the last eight minutes, and converted one of them, for the Jaguares' first victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The Jaguares were trailing 20-10 when he arrived and took control.
Earlier, New South Wales Waratahs fullback Folau broke former All Blacks winger Doug Howlett's try record in typical style, rising above the defenders to catch a cross-kick from Bernard Foley and score. Howlett's record had stood for more than a decade. Celebrations were muted for Folau and the Waratahs, though, as they lost the game 32-29 to the Blues.
New Zealand's Christchurch-based Crusaders continued to set the pace after winning their first match at home since the March 15 mosque shootings that left 50 people dead and shook their city.
The Crusaders overcame a sluggish first half against ACT Brumbies when winger Will Jordan scored two tries within three minutes in the second half. The Crusaders pulled away to win 36-14.
After a sixth win in eight games this season, the two-time defending champions lead the standings by six points from Melbourne Rebels, although they've played one game more.
The Jaguares came back twice at Loftus Versfeld, first when they slipped 9-0 behind early.
Flanker Pablo Matera gave the Jaguares hope by bursting through two tackles in midfield and beating the cover defense to the try-line.
The Bulls re-established their superiority with a try by left wing Jade Stighling just after halftime, a score created by smart offloads from No. 8 Duane Vermeulen and then center Burger Odendaal.
Manie Libbok kicked three more penalties to take his tally to six and the Bulls appeared to be home, 20-10 up with eight minutes to go.
But Miotti finished off two flowing passing moves by the Jaguares in a three-minute span as the visitors snatched victory. The Bulls contributed to their own demise with two yellow cards in those last eight minutes and they finished with 13 men.
"It was really difficult to start nine points behind, but we still kept going," the Jaguares' Matera said. "We fought all game to get the win in the last five minutes. I think we battled a lot to win this game and we're really happy as a team."
In Auckland, New Zealand, Folau's record-breaking try in the 24th began a strong rally by the Waratahs, who had trailed the Blues 17-0 after 17 minutes. They closed within a point at 22-21 with Alex Newsome's try but couldn't get past a tenacious Blues team which posted its fourth-straight win.
As a mark of respect to the mosque shootings victims, the nine-time champion Crusaders dispensed with their traditional pre-match entertainment which features knights on horseback waving swords in an allusion to the Christian crusades of the Middle Ages. The Crusaders are now under pressure to change their name and its associated symbolism.
The Brumbies scored the only points of the first half through a converted try to flyhalf and captain Christian Leali'ifano.
The Crusaders came out with more urgency in the second and quickly scored three tries, two to the rising star Jordan and another to his fellow winger Sevu Reece to take charge. Another try to replacement backrower Jordan Taufua gave them a bonus point and Reece completed a double with an intercept.
"We knew at halftime it was going to be a battle," Crusaders captain Matt Todd said. "We prepared for it all week and we were confident if we kept our shape, and if we could hold the ball, we could get points and we did that in the second half."
Fullback Reece Hodge scored three tries as the Melbourne Rebels extended their lead at the top of the Australian conference and moved back into second overall with a 42-15 win over Japan's Sunwolves.