What a time to be an Argentinian rugby fan.

Once the small fish in the pond, the Jaguares will return home on the back of an historic unbeaten away trip after beating the Chiefs 23-19 in Rotorua.

Sure, the Chiefs came in short-handed, but that doesn't undercut the height of the Jaguares' achievement.

Beating the Rebels, Brumbies and Blues coming into the match at Rotorua, the road trip had already seen them notch up some of their biggest wins as a club. But the win over the two-time champions speaks volumes of the team's improvement over the years.

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It was their trademark grunt in the pack that got the job done, in an impressive defensive showing against a stagnant Chiefs attack.

Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs is tackled by Ramiro Moyano of the Jaguares. Photo / Getty
Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs is tackled by Ramiro Moyano of the Jaguares. Photo / Getty

It was clear early on that the home side were in for a tough encounter in the opening minutes when several attempted attacking plays on the goal-line got them nowhere and they were forced to settle for shots at goal.

The home side were forced to make late changes ahead of the match, with Sam Cane (abdominal strain), Lachlan Boshier (illness) ruled out. Liam Messam was forced to play in the No.7 alongside Luke Jacobson, with Pita Gus Sowakula starting at No.8.

It definitely wasn't the pack you expected to see from the Chiefs, but they were the highlight for the home team as the dominated at scrum time against a usually tough Argentinian pack.

But the Chiefs' attack looked clunky from the start, and the physical Jaguares didn't help things.

A try to Jaguares winger Ramiro Monoya was the only one of the opening 40, but wasn't enough for his side to lead – trailing 12-10 at the break.

A penalty try in the second half proved to be the difference-maker. After Michael Allardice had been sin binned for taking a man out in the air, Liam Messam found himself in the firing line with a goal-line infringement that saw him shown yellow and a free seven points added to the Jaguares tally.

A pentaly goal later, and the visitors had a commanding 23-12 lead with 20 minutes to play.

Charlie Ngatai looked to have closed the gap when he ran away to cross the stripe, before the TMO got involed and the try was ruled out for an earlier knock on.

The home side did eventually get across the stripe through debutant Jesse Parete, but it was too late to salvage more than a bonus point as the Jaguares closed out their most successful trip to New Zealand.

Jaguares 23 (Penalty try, Ramiro Moyano tries; Nicolas Sanchez 2 cons, 2 pens; Emiliano Boffelli pen)
Chiefs 19 (Jesse Parete try; Damian McKenzie 4 pen, con)
HT: 10-12