Bulls beat Rebels as Jaguares blow away Hurricanes in big upsets

Melbourne (AFP) –


A rampaging Bulls battled past the Rebels to win outside South Africa for the first time in three years Friday, as the Jaguares recovered from a horror start to post a maiden victory against the Hurricanes.

Tries from Cornal Hendricks, Handre Pollard, Burger Odendaal and Sevens specialist Rosko Specman propelled the Pretoria-based Bulls to a 32-17 win in Melbourne after the Rebels let an early lead slip.

After conceding a try in the opening minute in Wellington, the committed Jaguares piled on the pressure and punished a mistake-ridden performance from the Hurricanes to clinch a 28-20 victory and end a five-match winning streak for the home team.

The upsets put the two teams joint top of a tight South African conference with 32 points.

"It was great to get that monkey off our back, the boys were great tonight," Bulls skipper Pollard, who booted three conversions and two penalties, said of snapping the losing streak overseas stretching back to 2016.

"I thought the defence was unbelievable. We did a great job in disrupting their set-pieces."

Incredibly, the Rebels had 100 percent possession in the opening seven minutes and the intense pressure paid off when Marika Koroibete crossed for the first try after a neat combination with Quade Cooper and Dane Haylett-Petty.

But their advantage didn't last, with an unmarked Hendricks easily taking a pinpoint Pollard cross-kick for a touchdown in the corner. And they grabbed the lead with a blistering attack ended by Pollard darting through the defence after a slick pass.

Will Genia then dotted down after Koroibete forced a turnover for the Rebels' second try in a free-flowing game with the first scrum not coming until the 35th minute.

A long-range Pollard penalty sent the Bulls into the break with a 17-12 lead, but Koroibete got his second of the night soon after the restart from close range on the breakdown.

It was in vain as some magic from Specman set Odendaal free to get the Bulls' third try, and Specman sealed the win with a swallow dive try on 68 minutes.

- Really big -

In Wellington, the Jaguares scored four tries to three, with a Hurricanes' effort after the siren flattering the scoreline for the hosts, who had not lost at home to non-New Zealand opposition since April 2015.

"This is really big for us as a team," captain Pablo Matera said as his players celebrated with hugs and kisses on the field. "To come here and get a victory in Wellington against one of the best teams in the world, it's amazing."

It was the Argentinians first win in three meetings over the Hurricanes.

"We're growing as a team and we can beat anyone, we demonstrated that tonight," added Matera.

The Hurricanes stunned the Jaguares with a try in the first minute, when Ngani Laumape's grubber kick found Vaea Fifita in space.

Jordie Barrett then deliberately knocked the ball out of play as the Jaguares were poised to score, earning himself a yellow card and the opposition a penalty try.

The Jaguares extended their lead when Augustin Creevy crashed over the line from the back of a driving maul, with Joaquin Diaz Bonilla adding the conversion.

Jeronimo De La Fuente added a third try after the Jaguares stole a lineout ball, heading into the break leading 21-8.

Laumape scored soon after the restart but Julian Montoya restored the Jaguares buffer with 13 minutes to go.

Kane Le'aupepe's late converted try offered some consolation after a Hurricanes' performance that captain TJ Perenara described as "disappointing" and "frustrating".