Spain and England A to meet in Trophy final

(IRB.COM) Thursday 5 May 2011
 Spain and England A to meet in Trophy final
France ran in the tries against Finland but can finish no higher than third at the Women's European Trophy - Photo: Alberto Segade

Defending champions Spain will have one eye on revenge when they come face to face with England A in the final of the Women’s European Trophy 2011, having lost 34-7 when the sides met at Surrey Sports Park in March.

Spain, who claimed both the European Sevens and Fifteens titles in 2010, took the lead in the third minute of their match with Sweden and never looked back, scoring tries through Bárbara Pla, Lía Bailán and Marina Bravo in an 18-3 win.

The Pool A winners will now face an England A side which has not conceded a single point in overcoming Italy, the Netherlands and Russia, the latter slipping to a 39-0 defeat to finish bottom of Pool B despite a promising opening win over the Dutch.

Wing Fran Matthews and centre Ceri Large scored a try in each half  at Fontecarmoa on Wednesday, with fly half Sarah McKenna, number 8 Nicola Hoole and replacement Charlotte Male also touching down for England A.

“I am delighted with the result and the fact that we are through to the final,” admitted England A coach Mike Barnett. “Russia were hard to break down and again this wasn’t an easy game, but to now have three games where we haven’t conceded any points is particularly pleasing.

“We are now where we want to be ahead of the final. We have improved in each game and now we have got to make another step up to face Spain. I am expecting them to be a much tougher side than when we played them last.

“They have been preparing for this tournament for quite some time and this is certainly their big tournament of the year. They’ll be a completely different proposition and will be much stronger with home support.”

Last gasp Dutch win

France A finished the pool stages strongly with a 109-3 victory over Finland, a relative newcomer having only played their first women’s rugby international in 2007, but have to settle for a third place play-off against Italy.

The French women ran in 17 tries with full back Clemence Gueucier claiming a hat-trick and centre Pauline Raymond, wing Anais Poirot, number 8 Audrey Forlani and replacement Audrey Parra scoring braces.

Finland did manage to score their first points of the tournament through centre Anna Soiluva’s first half penalty, and despite conceding more than 100 points for the second time in three matches are bound to be learning a lot to help them in the future.

They will now face Russia in the seventh place play-off, the Russians one of three sides in Pool B to win a single match but the failure to collect and try-scoring or losing bonus points means they prop up the standings.

Italy suffered their second loss of the tournament after conceding a last minute try to go down 20-17 against the Netherlands, but the two losing bonus points and try-scoring one from the win over Russia mean they pip their conquerors to second place.

The Italians looked to have secured the win after fly half Michaela Tondinelli’s conversion gave them the lead for the first time in the 65th minute, but the Netherlands had other ideas. Despite the win, they will face Sweden, a young side rebuilding after Women’s Rugby World Cup 2010, for fifth place overall.