Spain turned on the style in the National Rugby Centre in Amsterdam on Saturday to defeat the Netherlands comfortably and show that they are the team to beat once again in the women’s Rugby Europe Championship.
The Spanish missed out on Rugby World Cup qualification late last year, but they did win the Championship earlier in 2021 and they have now regrouped ahead of their 2022 programme.
And José Antonio Barrio’s charges were just too powerful for Sylke Haverkorn’s up-and-coming Dutch side, winning 69-0 and scoring some cracking tries in the process.
The first try came in just the second minute when winger Clara Piquero went over. Centre Patricia Garcia converted.
In the eighth minute a handling error in their own half by the home side saw the ball hacked on by Spain with Garcia eventually getting her hands on it and bagging try number two.
It was unconverted, but 12-0 became 17-0 five minutes later when full-back Lea Ducher and Piquero went close before winger Elisabet Segarra pounced on the loose ball that came off a foot to score. Garcia converted.
The Netherlands then got a foothold in the game, their heads never going down, and they held out Spain from scoring any more points until the interval meaning it was 19-0 after 40 minutes.
In the second half Spain really took the game by the scruff of the neck and scored 50 more points with their bench making a big impact.
Ducher scored an unconverted try in the 45th minute and then a seven pointer came via second-row Anna Puig.
Just before the hour mark a brilliant run from replacement Iciar Pozo set-up fellow sub Zahia Perez, on her debut, for her side’s sixth try.
Another replacement on debut, Julia Castro, scored the next one and it was converted.
That was 43-0 and in the final 10 minutes Spain notched up another 26 points as the Netherlands’ defence tired.
The tries in that late section of the game came from sub Aleuzenev Cid, Piquero after an amazing run, back-row Olivia Fresneda and, with the clock in the red, Puig. Ducher had taking over the kicking duties by this point.
Spain now get ready to host Russia this coming weekend.
Meanwhile, in the men’s Rugby Europe Trophy 2021/22, Belgium made it 10 points from a possible 10, but were made to work very hard by the hosts Germany in the Fritz-Grunenaum-Sportpark in Heidelberg on Saturday.
In the end Belgium won 33-26 with a bonus point while Germany picked up a losing bonus point which their efforts more than deserved.
Belgium, next in action on March 12 versus Switzerland and with two wins from two, are second in the table now behind leaders Poland. Germany are in third.
By Gary Heatly
Images: Dennis van de Sande