Spanish and Samoan Women are going to WRWC 2014
irb.com and James Mortimer 30 Apr 2013 International Rugby Board
It doesn't happen often in these parts at this time of year, but rain had been forecast ahead of Saturday's matches in Madrid.
Thankfully it held off but it was very windy and slightly overcast as Sweden and Scotland took to the pitch at the Estadio de la Universidad Complutense in Madrid.
Before the game it was easy to wonder how Sweden hadn't scored a try during this tournament, a question only they could really answer. But with Scotland desperately wanting a bonus point win following last Tuesday's defeat by Italy, and with the Swedes growing in confidence, this was set to be a tight affair.
The early exchanges saw good ball retention by both sides, with Scotland cutting out some of the mistakes that blighted their game against Italy.
Within the first seven minutes they had crossed for a try, but less than seven minutes later the Swedes had cancelled out their good work, finally crossing the whitewash in Madrid. After some good interplay the Nordic women formed a maul and pushed over in the corner, much to the delight of their management on the touchline.
Sweden were to get a penalty shortly afterwards that was converted by Emma Skagerlind, but that was to be the sum total of their haul for the day.
Despite putting on a good defensive show, their tackling left a lot to be desired especially in the second half as the sun re-appeared. The second half saw the floodgates opened, with the Scots scoring a total of 12 tries during the 80 minutes.
Fly half Tanya Griffith scored three of them in a top-class display.
"I think against Italy the game plan was to go wide but we didn't stick to that. Today we managed to stick to it, it worked, and we got the much-valued bonus point," she said.
Despite the win however, Scotland's fate wasn't in their own hands and it transpired that results didn't go their way, leaving them to rue a missed opportunity in Madrid this week.
Netherlands 14-33 Samoa
After Tuesday's bonus point win against the Swedes, Samoa entered this match against the Netherlands with their heads up and in the mood to score tries. The Pacific Islanders had re-grouped following their opening day loss to Italy, and a week later they entered Madrid's Central University Stadium knowing a bonus point was crucial if they were to progress to the Women's Rugby World Cup in France 2014.
Some thundering hits were put in from both teams as they battled for control and it was the Samoans who touched down early with a try from Hellen Tafa.
The Dutch dames left their earlier poor performances behind them as they enjoyed brief spells in possession, but Samoa asserted their dominance early in the match and went into half time 26 - 0 with some well-taken tries.
The offloading and passing was the difference as the Manusina got their backline working to touch down four times before the break, ensuring the bonus point.
But the second half in the Spanish capital was another story, as the Samoans flagged and the Netherlands applied the pressure and crossed twice towards the end of the match.
But in truth it was never enough as the Samoans held out and took their places on the sideline to await news on whether they would qualify for WRWC 2014.
Spain 38-7 Italy
A crowd of almost 2000 people were in place at the Estadio de la Universidad Complutense on Saturday evening to watch what promised to be the match of the tournament.
But in truth it was another one-sided affair as two early intercept tries killed off the Italian threat and got the raucous Spanish crowd behind the home XV.
A series of penalties and another two tries from the hosts had Italy trailing at the break.
The second half saw a spirited effort from the Italians, but the Spaniards never showed signs of letting their European opposition back into the match.
A pushover try by Italy got them on the scoreboard in the second half, but it was Spain's day, topping the tournament table and ensuring that they'll be taking their place at the pinnacle of the game in Paris next year.
Speaking after their 38-7 demolition of Italy at the Estadio de la Universidad in Madrid, Spanish head coach Ines Etxegibel expressed her delight with the win and the qualification.
"This is our reward for our hard work over the past year. This is our reward for the work by the Spanish Union.
"We have a lot more hard work in front of us but that's not for today. Today is for celebrating," she added.
Samoa head coach Peter Fatialofa said it was a major success for the women's game in the Pacific region.
"We came here to do our best and to qualfiy, We've achieved that and I'm delighted for the girls.
"The fact is that we're now representing the Pacific Islands in the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2014. That's a great honour and I wish to thank the IRB for its help and investment in the game.
"We have to go back now and focus on the tough work ahead because we're going to be playing some incredible teams in France. But tonight, we're just going to enjoy our qualification," said Fatialofa.