Brumbies' season ends with a whimper
A DIABOLICAL start cost the Brumbies any chance of spot in the Super Rugby final as the Jaguares romped to a 39-7 victory in Buenos Aires on Saturday (AEST).
The Jaguares were playing in their first semi-final but showed no sign of nerves in front of a fever-pitch crowd and were almost flawless in the opening 40 minutes.
It was always going to be tough for the Brumbies against a team boasting 14 Test players in their starting side, and a further 185 international caps on the bench.
But the visitors simply didn't turn up and looked lacklustre from the opening whistle as the 30-hour trip from Canberra to Argentina appeared to have taken a toll.
The Brumbies were riding a seven-game winning streak heading into the contest, but the scintillating form that took them to the finals was nowhere to be seen.
Brumbies hooker had his worst game of the season and lost an inconceivable five lineouts in the opening 25 minutes.
The Jaguares scored the opener after a mix-up between Rob Valetini and Toni Pulu resulted in a kick shooting through the last line of defence and allowing former Brumbies player Tomas Cubelli to swoop.
It proved a sign of things to come.
Joaquin Diaz Bonilla booted back-to-back penalties, both won after lost Brumbies' lineouts, as the Jaguares raced to a 13-0 lead.
The Brumbies' polish of the past two months had well and truly worn off, with the visitors making basic errors as the clinical Jaguares made the most of their chances.
The next mistake came from No.8 Lachlan McCaffrey when he was caught isolated on the blind side and the Jaguares punched the corner from the ensuing penalty.
A few phases later and lock Tomas Lavanini barged over to score. Just like that, it was 20-0 after 20 minutes.
The Brumbies scored a crucial try through Faingaa on the stroke of half-time, but it proved a false dawn as the mistakes continued in the second half.
Brumbies skipper Christian Lealiifano tried to grubber through on 50 minutes, but it was defused by Matias Moroni, who sprinted 50m before finding Matias Orlando to score.
Orlando scored his second after bursting through tired defenders on 62 minutes before fullback Emiliano Boffelli scored a turnover try in the dying moments.
Bonilla finished with a perfect six from six off the tee.
New Zealand referee Mike Fraser had a night to forget but the Jaguares thoroughly deserved the win and will face the Crusaders or Hurricanes in the final.