Published: Sun, July 17, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Jaguares down Lions in Super Rugby upset

Jaguares down Lions in Super Rugby upset

The Hurricanes, however, earned the right to celebrate, claiming a brilliant win at the Crusaders' Christchurch stronghold to emerge top of the competition's toughest conference.

Five teams finished on 11 wins but the Hurricanes' nine bonus points gave them 53 points, scraping ahead of 52 each for the Lions and defending champion Highlanders and 51 each for the Chiefs and Stormers.

The Crusaders will be without Test pair Nemani Nadolo and Joe Moody for their Super Rugby quarter-final against the Lions but there is better news for other ailing players.

It means the Hurricanes host the Sharks in their quarter-final on Saturday, with the Brumbies, who looked ordinary in holding off the hapless Force 24-10 in Canberra, hosting the Highlanders.

The Lions 34-22 loss in Buenos Aires to the Jaguares saw them finish top of South Africa Conference 2 to qualify as tournament second seed.

The Lions and Chiefs were the greatest losers of a round which contained severe changes of fortune.

The Lions led the Jaguares at halftime but were overwhelmed in the second spell.

That was the nature of a round in which nearly everything was in flux until the final whistle ended the regular season.

"We probably broke aeroplane protocol because some of us were watching the game on their phones until three minutes to go and we lost reception and at that stage they (Jaguares) were up by 12 points", Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd told local media after touching down.

The 17th and final round of the regular season began with all placings up for grabs in New Zealand - the Hurricanes, Highlanders, Chiefs and Crusaders - who had all qualified for the playoffs - meeting in matches which would determine first place in New Zealand.

That left them with a quarterfinal at their Newlands based next weekend against the Hamilton-based Chiefs whose 25-15 loss to the Highlanders dropped them from first to third place in the New Zealand conference.

Confirmation the Hurricanes had won the conference came later in the evening after the Chiefs failed to re-claim the top spot when they were beaten by the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Win and they'll play the eighth-ranked team, possibly the Sharks; lose and they may be up against the Hurricanes - a team they took 50 points from not too long ago, at Ellis Park, too.

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