The Jaguares punished the Lions for some poor defending as they cruised to a 36-24 victory in Buenos Aires on 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 quarterfinal 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 flyhalf Elton Jantjies and centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, the Lions were a pale shadow of the team that finished runners-up last season.
Captain 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. They dominated us physically in a very tough match and now we must recover quickly for a home game against the 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," Whiteley said.
It was the Lions' first loss after defeating compatriots the Cheetahs away and the Waratahs of Australia at home.
The scoreline flattered the visitors as Jaguares flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez missed four of 10 shots at goal and the Lions scored two late tries after flank 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 fortunate not to be yellow-carded by New Zealand referee Nick Briant on two occasions 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. Fullback Joaquin Tuculet, wing Ramiro Moyano, centre Jeronimo de la Fuente and Sanchez scored tries and the flyhalf 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.
Man of the match: Malcolm Marx, Jaco Kriel and Francois de Klerk made a massive difference to the Lions' attacking efforts when they came on in the second half, while the starting XV found the going tough. Joaquín Tuculet, Ramiro Moyano and Santiago Cordero gave their side plenty of running options while Nicolás Sánchez had a fairly good game, despite some dodgy tackling. Tomás Lezana put in a massive effort before being sent off in the closing stages. However, Pablo Matera was the real work-horse and set the standard for the rest of his team to follow.
Tries: Tuculet, Moyano, de la Fuente, Sanchez
Cons: Sanchez 2
Pens: Sanchez 4
Tries: Whiteley 2, van Rooyen, Marx
Yellow cards: Andries Ferreira (Lions, dangerous play - high tackle, 21); Robbie Coetzee (Lions, dangerous play - high tackle, 55); Tomás Lezana (Jaguares, cynical play - collapsing the maul, 72)
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Juan Martín Hernández, 23 Matías Moroni.
Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Jacques Nel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Andries Coetzee, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Damian Schneider (Argentina)
TMO: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)
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