Scott Higginbotham scored the Reds' only try in the defeat to the Jaguares.
Scott Higginbotham scored the Reds' only try in the defeat to the Jaguares. Paul Kane

Reds blow chance for elusive away victory

THE fumbling Reds blew a golden chance to grab their first win on the road since 2015 when falling 22-8 to the Jaguares Sunday morning in Buenos Aires.

When No.8 Scott Higginbotham crashed over for Queensland's only try at the 56-minute mark, there was sudden momentum for the visitors at 22-8 down.

What could have been a comeback from 19 points down to rival the stirring NSW Waratahs' rally to topple the Melbourne Rebels last Friday night became a blueprint for butchering endless chances.

The Reds even played against 14 men in that closing period when Jaguares winger Bautista Ezcurra was sinbinned for 10 minutes for a deliberate knockdown as a square-up for the ridiculous yellow card handed to Reds winger Eto Nabuli for the same offence in the first half.

Where do you start on an excruciating match which seemed to stretch to two hours with the incessant involvement of the TMO, injury timeouts, one legitimate stretcher case and Kiwi referee Mike Fraser front and centre with an endless scrum tutorial.

A poor flat James Tuttle pass was knocked on by prop Taniela Tupou and replacement halfback Nick Frisby couldn't hook up with the charging giant on another occasion when possession was lost again.

A 5m lineout opportunity was thrown away by a Duncan Paia'aua knock on when the ball went to the backs.

Centre Samu Kerevi exploded into the contest late with two big gallops.

He burst into the clear and hooked up with Paia'aua but fullback Karmichael Hunt seemed just to overrun his support line and the flat Paia'aua pass was knocked on.

That occurred with nine minutes still to play and against 14 Jaguares. It was the Reds' best shot gone but it didn't help at the 74-minute mark when replacement flanker George Smith threw perhaps the worst pass of his long career.

From another 5m lineout win, his short pass landed at the shoelaces of Kerevi who knocked on when on the fly.

Mixed into this was a shocking, aimless Frisby kick that rolled in-goal and gave away possession with the general imprecision that kills teams.

All these events occurred in the final 25 minutes. The Reds won 64 per cent of the ball across the match and an even bigger cut in the second half when the Jaguares were there for the taking.

Hunt played strongly from fullback, young prop Markus Vanzati held up the scrum well for 64 minutes, winger Izaia Perese did some neat things, Higginbotham's good moments were valuable and fellow backrower Hendrick Tui made one bumping linebreak.

The Reds attacking options narrowed as feared without Quade Cooper because Jake McIntyre did a no-trimmings job at No.10.

The scoreboard showed 0-0 when a baffling call went against winger Nabuli after 17 minutes.

He went in for a tackle out wide and knocked down the ball as it was being passed in the process. At full speed, you would call it an excellent smothering tackle.

When Fraser slowed it down frame-by-frame, he found a deliberate knockdown and whistled Nabuli to the bin. It was a rubbish call.

Inside two minutes, lock Kane Douglas was on the sidelined too for a yellow card. A Jaguares rolling maul from 5m out looked to have split but Douglas was whistled for coming in from the side.

Against 13 men, Jaguares centre Jeronimo de la Fuente speared over with a nice angled run.

Just when the Reds had looked likely to limit the damage while severely undermanned, a Tuttle box kick was turned into gold by quick-stepping winger Ramiro Moyano, who scooted over from beyond halfway.

He beat the groping tackles Paia'aua, Sam Talakai and Tuttle with three quick sidesteps.

The Reds had fight in them to keep chasing the game at 22-3 but the lack of precision was highly frustrating as they limped to a 1-4 win-loss record of missed chances.

JAGUARES 22 (J de la Fuente 2, R Moyano tries; J M Hernandez 2 conv, pen goal) bt REDS 8 (S Higginbotham try; J McIntyre pen goal)

News Corp Australia

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