A Brad Weber try at the death has given the Chiefs a 30-26 victory and spoilt the Jaguares’ home debut as Super Rugby came to Argentina at Velez Sarsfield.
It looked like being a different story three minutes from the siren, however, after the Argentine side scored two brilliant counter-attacking tries in quick succession to go 26-23 ahead.
The Chiefs, champions in 2012 and 2013, kept their cool in an unfamiliar and noisy environment, though, and worked their way back up the pitch for flyhalf Aaron Cruden to break down the touchline and pass inside for replacement halfback Weber to score.
“It was a tough game, fun game,” said Jaguares scrumhalf Martin Landajo.
“They had the last word but it could have gone to either team.
“It’s disappointing but we’re happy to play in Argentina. It was a great match.”
After overhauling a 14-13 first half deficit, the Chiefs had largely dominated the second half and led 24-13 going into the last 10 minutes.
The Jaguares finally managed to get out of their own half in the 70th minute when winger Santiago Cordero broke up the middle and kicked ahead for Moroni as the replacement centre made for the line.
The Chiefs got to the ball first and the attack was halted but the Jaguares kept up the pressure and in a series of phases moved the ball across to the right where Landajo spotted a gap and dived over for a try.
Three minutes later, the Jaguares broke again from deep in their half down the left with a good run by replacement flanker Facundo Isa who passed inside to Moroni and the centre evaded the defence to dive over in the corner.
Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, making his Super Rugby debut, missed the conversion, leaving his points tally at 11.
The Jaguares, who earned a bonus point to add to their five points for a victory and defeat in their opening two matches in South Africa, confirmed they can live with the best and a victory would not have flattered them.
The hosts scored the first try after 14 minutes when captain Agustin Creevy was driven over to put the home side 8-3 up.
The visitors hit quickly back with tries in both corners through wing Sam McNicol and fullback Damian McKenzie inside three minutes.
The Chiefs pulled away in the second half with wing James Lowe’s try just past the hour before the Jaguares had the home crowd on their feet with their late two-try burst.
“I’m really proud of the way the guys stepped up tonight,” said Chiefs skipper Sam Cane.
“Credit to the Jaguares, they pushed us right until the end. I’m pretty pleased with the way we didn’t stop playing and came up with a pretty handy try at the end.”