Spain’s hopes of competing at Women’s Rugby World 2017 in Ireland remain alive after they defeated Netherlands 35-7 in the final of the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship.
Las Leonas only led 5-0 at half-time but doubles from Maria Bravo and Jeanina Vinueza finally saw them convert their dominance into points in front of 3,500 partisan fans in Madrid.
A two-legged WRWC 2017 qualifier against Scotland was the prize at the stake for the champion team and a determined Spain made their intentions clear from the off, scoring a 12th-minute try through inside centre Maria Bravo.
Despite their hard-working and dominant pack providing plenty of front foot ball, Spain’s backs were unable to penetrate the resolute Dutch defence for the remainder of the half and there remained one score in it at half-time.
However, Jeanina Vinueza, a 33rd minute replacement, was able to double Spain’s lead when she touched down for their second try three minutes after the re-start from the back of an unstoppable rolling maul.
Two Patricia Garcia penalties put further daylight between the teams before Bravo and Vinueza grabbed their second tries. With the two extra points for the conversion added on each occasion, Spain led 30-0.
Netherlands scored a consolation try 10 minutes from time when Shereza Pool took advantage of some slack defending, but number eight Angela del Pan ensured Spain had the final word.
Spain and Netherlands will remain unchanged in ninth and 14th place respectively once the World Rugby Women’s Rankings are updated at 12 noon on Monday.
Russia took third place after an emphatic 74-5 win over 2014 European Trophy winners Belgium.
Exciting backs Alena Bogacheva, Polina Teslenko and Irina Trapeznikova scored two tries apiece as the Russians ran in a total of 13 tries.
Having also beaten Switzerland in midweek, Russia will climb one place in the rankings to 19th, relegating Germany to 20th.
Switzerland beat Czech Republic 24-12, in the fifth-place play-off between the nations ranked 37th and 48th. Neither side's position will be affected by the result.