PREVIEW: Highlanders v Jaguares
Friday, July 8, 2016 allblacks.com Getty Images
ROUND 16: Highlanders v Jaguares, 9.40am Sunday 10 July (NZT), Buenos Aires, Argentina
TALE OF THE TAPE
While the Jaguares are well out of the playoff race, they have the chance to play spoilers for the Highlanders. The Dunedin-based side are fourth in the NZ Conference and need to keep winning to ensure a wildcard playoff spot. The Jaguares are yet to meet the Highlanders but have lost to the other four New Zealand teams during the regular season.
QUICK TAP: HIGHLANDERS WARY OF FAST FINISHING JAGUARES
ALL BLACKS RETURN
The Highlanders have been boosted by the inclusion of five All Blacks for the crucial encounter with the Jaguares. Returning to the team are Elliot Dixon, Aaron and Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Waisake Naholo. The strengthening of the backline means that last week’s hat trick hero Matt Faddes drops to the bench.
FANTASTIC FADDES! @MattFaddes crossed for a hat trick on the weekend to take his #SuperRugby 2016 tally to 9 tries. pic.twitter.com/u2JT0ONLkL— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) July 4, 2016CONTAIN CREEVY
If the Highlanders are to come away with victory in Argentina, they will need to quell the influence of inspirational Jaguares captain Agustin Creevy. The free flowing hooker has been one of the Jaguares best all season and has scored more tries than any other hooker in the competition with six. Highlanders rake Ash Dixon has performed solidly all season and will need to be at his best to match it with the skilful Argentinian hooker.
HARD AT HOME
Although the Jaguares have largely disappointed in their debut season, they have been a formidable force at home. From the five matches the Jaguares have played in Buenos Aires, they have won two and lost three by five points or less. The Highlanders will have to overcome a vocal home crowd, demanding travel schedule and an inspired Jaguares side when they take to the field on Sunday.
FIFTY FOR OSBORNE
Fijian international wing Patrick Osborne has become a fan favourite at the Highlanders and will play his 50th match for the club this weekend. The dynamic wing has formed an electric combination with Waisake Naholo over the past couple of seasons and will be looking to add to his season tally of four tries to celebrate.
Highlanders: 15: Ben Smith (C) 14: Waisake Naholo 13: Malakai Fekitoa 12: Rob Thompson 11: Patrick Osborne 10: Lima Sopoaga 9: Aaron Smith 8: Luke Whitelock 7: James Lentjes 6: Elliot Dixon 5: Joe Wheeler 4: Tom Franklin 3: Siosuia Halanukonuka 2: Ash Dixon 1: Josh Hohneck
Reserves: Greg Pleasents-Tate, Aki Seiuli, Ross Geldenhuys, Mark Reddish, Dan Pryor, Te Aihe Toma, Fletcher Smith, Matt Faddes
Jaguares: 15: Joaquin Tuculet 14: Santiago Cordero 13: Jeronimo De La Fuente 12: Juan Martin Hernandez 11: Manuel Montero 10: Nicolas Sanchez 9: Martin Landajo 8: Facundo Isa 7: Juan Manuel Leguizamon 6: Pablo Matera 5: Tomas Lavanini 4: Javier Ortega Desio 3: Ramiro Herrera 2: Agustin Creevy 1: Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Reserves: Julian Montoya, Santiago Garcia Botta, Enrique Piertto Heilan, Ignacio Larrague, Marcos Kremer, Felipe Ezcurra, Mattias Orlando, Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino
Great turn out by local fans at training today in Buenos Aires! #landersontour #WeAreHighlanders #JAGvHIG pic.twitter.com/HazzsBbujS— The Highlanders (@Highlanders) July 5, 2016