The Emirates Lions scored four tries to beat a brave Jaguares side 40-23 at Ellis Park to set up a home semifinal against the Waratahs in Johannesburg next weekend.
The Lions and the Jaguares came into their quarterfinal clash knowing that the Waratahs lay in wait in the semifinal round after they came from behind to beat the Highlanders 30-23 in Sydney.
There was not much separating the two teams going into the clash as their head to head record read; played six, with each side winning three apiece, notably all the victories have come at home for both sides.
The visitors though went into an early 6-0 lead through the boot of flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, as Pablo Matera and Tomas Lezana were given the Argentines good go forward ball with their barging runs down the middle of the field.
The home side were not to be deterred by the boot of Sanchez and the fierce advances of Matera and Lezana. Elton Jantjies’ cross-field kick landed comfortably in the hands of winger Ruan Combrinck, who gathered and scored in the corner. Jantjies converted the try to give the Lions a 7-6 lead.
The Jaguares were looking like a side that has been on tour for three weeks as their intensity was evidently lacking. Harold Vorster put a neat kick behind the Jaguares’ defense for Aphiwe Dyantyi to chase. The speedy Springbok winger then kicked ahead, forcing fullback Emiliano Boffelli to mishandle under enormous pressure. Vorster gathered the kick to dot down under the sticks to further stretch the Lions’ lead.
It went from bad to worse for the Jaguares as minutes later, hooker Malcom Marx intercepted a pass from scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou on halfway and sprinted 50m to score the Lions third try of the half.
Sanchez slotted his third penalty of the half to take the score to 24-9 at halftime.
The Jaguares were singing a different tune in the second half. They regained their energy and intensity and made the Lions dance to the sounds of a Spanish guitar, with two quick tries from Bautista Delguy and Matera, that sent nervous silence around Ellis Park.
Andries Coetzee settled those nervous though through a try of his own before an uncharacteristic drop goal from Jantjies pushed the scores to 37-23. Jantjies slammed over another penalty that took the home side into the 40’s and were looking in control again.
That is how things stayed as the Lions booked themselves yet another home semifinal against the Waratahs next weekend.