Sunwolves lose to Lions, Jaguares sneak past Cheetahs in mixed day for Super Rugby debutantes
Super Rugby's two newest teams have enjoyed a mixed start, with Japan's Sunwolves falling to the Lions but Argentine side, the Jaguares, beating the Cheetahs in a high-scoring affair.
The Jaguares shrugged off a poor start and overcame a 21-point deficit to beat the Cheetahs 34-33 on debut on Saturday (AEDT).
The Jaguares are among three new teams in the expanded southern hemisphere competition and they began the match with 10 of the 15 players who featured in Argentina's line-up in October's World Cup semi-final defeat by Australia.
The Sunwolves went down to the Lions, but put on a solid show for the fans at their packed home ground, the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.
A 58th-minute try to Shota Horie kept them in touch before a late Lionel Mapoe five-pointer almost guaranteed the Lions' win.
Earlier, the Jaguares were on the back foot early when Cheetahs captain Francois Venter notched a try in the 10th minute after two Jaguares players, Nicolas Sanchez and Martin Landajo, were sent to the sin bin.
Tomas Lavanini was fortunate not to join them when he dived on top of William Small-Smith after the centre claimed a fourth Cheetahs try to open a 24-3 lead.
Restored to a full compliment of players, the Jaguares rallied with tries from lineout possession for Landajo and captain Agustin Creevy that cut the deficit to 24-17 at half-time.
Sanchez's kick then set up a third touchdown for the visitors early in the second half by flanker Rodrigo Baez, but fly half Fred Zeilinga slotted two penalties to put the Cheetahs six points ahead before a darting run from Landajo and a conversion by Sanchez helped the debutantes go in front.
A Sanchez drop goal extended the lead to four points before substitute Daniel Marais reduced the gap to a single point with a Cheetahs penalty
Sunwolves, Super Rugby, The Jaguares, Nicolas Sanchez, Martin Landajo, Francois Venter