Super Rugby Americas week five review

Super Rugby Americas week five review


By JOE SANTAMARIA

Yacare kicked off Round Five of the Super Rugby Americas season in style with an impressive 41-24 victory against defending champions Peñarol.

The Paraguayan visitors demonstrated their attacking prowess by racing into a 31-0 lead before half-time. They appeared unplayable at times as they brutally exposed the host’s inability to slow the ball down.

Peñarol hit back in the second half and managed to secure a bonus point in the last minute with their fourth try. However, they have already lost as many games as they did in the entirety of last season and, while there is plenty of time to improve, head coach Leonardo Senatore will have cause for concern after his side’s opening four matches. In sharp contrast, Yacare made their strongest statement yet that they are ready to kick on from last year’s maiden semi-final appearance and challenge for the title this time around.

Saturday’s match saw another disappointing second half from Selknam as their resistance crumbled against Pampas. The game was tightly contested for the opening half hour before Pampas centre Justo Piccardo showed great power and balance to burst through for the opening try. Selknam fought back with two quick-fire scores of their own, including a stunning try from winger Nicolás Saab, to lead 14-13 at the break.

The second half started brightly for the hosts as they scored a well-worked try two minutes after the break to extend their lead to six points. It would be their final score of the game however as Pampas soon began to move through the gears with rampaging replacement Joaquin Moro particularly impressive. Pampas winger Santiago Pernas continued his enviable record of scoring in every match of the season to seal a 41-19 win to banish the memories of their defeat in Round Four.

There was a party atmosphere before kick-off in Glendale as American Raptors fans celebrated St Patrick’s Day and their team didn’t disappoint. After a tumultuous week in which they changed head coach, the American side put on a brilliant display to claim their first win of the season against Cobras. Despite the heaps of snow lining the sidelines, the Brazilian visitors looked right at home in the opening stages and deservedly took a 14-3 lead after powerful work from their forwards. The hosts were able to strike back through hooker Diego Fortuny, ensuring they trailed by just four points at half-time.

Roared on by their home supporters for the first time this season, American Raptors managed to wrestle control back from Cobras in the second half. Flying winger Jacob Hidalgo gave his side a slender lead with an acrobatic finish in the corner and replacement Feofaaki Pulu secured the 29-21 victory after picking a superb line that allowed him to touch down without a defender so much as laying a hand on him. The bonus point win lifted the hosts off the bottom of the table at the expense of their opponents and was the perfect end to a dramatic week for the competition’s only North American team.

Round Six will see Pampas host Peñarol in what promises to be a fascinating Friday night clash before Selknam travel to table-topping Dogos on Saturday. American Raptors will look to build on their first victory when they host free-scoring Yacare on Sunday.

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