Chiefs beat Jaguares in thrilling first Super Rugby match in Argentina

A 78th minute try to Brad Weber has given the Chiefs a dramatic 30-26 win over the Jaguares in the first Super Rugby match to be played in Argentina.

The replacement halfback dived over in the dying stages of a great contest at Jose Amalfitani Stadium in Buenos Aires on Sunday morning (NZ time) to snuff out a late Jaguares comeback in front of a sold-out crowd of around 24,000.

In control at 23-14, the Chiefs were staring down the barrel after a gutsy home side came roaring back.

Having been camped in their own half in the second spell, the Jaguares were inspired by a brilliant run up the middle from winger Santiago Cordero. The rewards came a few minutes later, with halfback Martin Landajo driving over the line, and Nicolas Sanchez slotting the extras to make it game-on at 23-21 with eight minutes to play.

Then from the kickoff the Jaguares got their tails up and spun the ball, with a brilliant surge and fine hands, before replacement winger Matias Moroni sprinted 30 metres to the left corner to snatch the lead.

It left the Chiefs needing to fire one last big shot, and it was stunning stuff, as Seta Tamanivalu, James Lowe and Aaron Cruden all kept the ball alive and found Weber on hand to dive over.

Damian McKenzie slotted the conversion from the sideline, and the Chiefs were able to see out the final 40 seconds.

It was fitting of the historic occasion, with a unique atmosphere where the crowd danced in the stands, whistled when angry, and fell silent whenever the Chiefs scored.

No team in this competition plays rugby quite like the Jaguares. It's a beautiful combination of rugged big boys rolling their sleeves up at the scrum and fancying a rolling maul, while their smaller men have such speed and silk, with everyone buying into the theme of keeping the ball alive. Some of the offloads were just magical.

But the high-risk strategy does of course come with danger, like when they tried to run the ball from their own in-goal then knocking on. And those errors became an unfortunate trend for them later on.

They had pressured the Chiefs early, before a rolling maul brought the first try of the game in the 13th minute, to their captain Agustin Creevy.

The Chiefs hit back shortly after through a spectacular finish in the right-hand corner from Sam McNicol, then when the Jaguares were loose in their execution, the Chiefs pounced again, with McKenzie put away for a simple finish, having initiated the pressure with a smart touch-finder.

Sanchez reduced the margin to 13-11 and soon after he had the chance to kick for the lead, but the Jaguares opted to go for the corner. With another dangerous maul looming, the Chiefs were so smart not to engage, that the Jaguares were penalised, as no maul had formed. Dave Rennie and his coaching staff can take the credit for that one.

But it was a first half that was mostly frustrating for the visitors, who were forced into chasing Jaguares across field and were undone by a bit off ill-discipline at the breakdown.

Then came a double blow just before halftime. Cruden missed touch from a penalty, the hosts scooted downfield, and Tawera Kerr-Barlow was yellow carded for playing the ball on the ground.

Sanchez knocked over the penalty to put his side ahead 14-13 at the break, and it turned out to be Kerr-Barlow's last involvement in a pretty average 38 minutes, with Weber injected later.

There was more madness to follow early in the second spell. After losing lock Johan Bardoul to a wrist injury just two minutes in, Cruden then turned down a 40-metre penalty out in front in favour of a quick tap, which resulted in Lowe knocking on.

Sense was restored minutes later, with the Chiefs going for goal at their next opportunity.

It was surprising Cruden had initially taken back the goalkicking duties from McKenzie, but after he missed two from three, he chucked the tee back to the youngster, who again showed plenty of brilliant touches with ball in hand as well, as he continues his sensational start to the season.

McKenzie duly put his side back in the lead, then with a bit of ball the Chiefs showed how lethal they can be on the counter attack, with Lowe finishing a superb movement featuring Charlie Ngatai, McKenzie and a fine run by Anton Lienert-Brown.

McKenzie nailed the conversion from the touchline to make it a handy 23-14 scoreline.

He should have extended the margin to 12 with 17 minutes left, after the Chiefs' all-new front row of Pauliasi Manu, Rhys Marshall and Siate Tokolahi monstered the Jaguares scrum, but McKenzie pushed it wide.

Soon later it was looming as a crucial miss, but in the end, his side had the final say.

Chiefs 30 (Sam McNicol, Damian McKenzie, James Lowe, Brad Weber tries; Aaron Cruden pen, Damian McKenzie 2 con, pen) Jaguares 26 (Agustin Creevy, Martin Landajo, Matias Moroni tries; Nicolas Sanchez con, 3 pen) HT: 13-14.