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Saturday, May 07, 2011

England in last minute Euro Trophy win

The news out of north-west Spain is that, after a titanic and nail-biting European Trophy final between two well matched sides. Playing in front of a near capacity crowd of 2,500, providing one of the best atmospheres since the World Cup, England A have won the 2011 European Trophy.

Playing in sunny but blustery conditions, Spain and England A were still level at 0-0 at half-time. Ten minutes into the second period England narrowly missed going ahead, Ceri Large hitting the bar with a penalty, shortly followed by Jane Leonard going close when she picked up and drove forward, but she spilled the ball to end England’s charge.

Then, with 20 minutes to go, Spain - playing without their captain and scrumhalf (suspended for two weeks due to foul play in the previous game) - broke the deadlock with a Patricia Garcia penalty.

Fran Matthews came close to scoring with a nice break a few minutes later, but she was brought down just short of the try-line, while England’s forwards also came close on a couple of occasions with some threatening line-outs, catch and drives. On every occasion though Spain’s defence was immense and England couldn’t break through their wall of defence.

In the final ten minutes of the game England really ramped up the pressure. They came close on a handful of occasions but were kept out - until some good kicking put England in a threatening position. With two minutes left a scrum in the corner gave England the opportunity to drive forward and controlling it well England pushed over with Sarah Hunter at Number 8 making the final decisive move. Scrum half Georgina Rozario kickied the ball out of play immediately after the restart and England had stolen the title in front of Spain’s home crowd by 5 points to 3.

Action from France vs Italy
Elsewhere, France A beat Italy 17-7 to take third place - almost all of the points coming in the first half. France roared to a 14-0 lead in the first 18 minutes with tries from Mayans and Parra, and looked like the were going to run away with the game, but Italy regrouped and pulled the game back, Flavia Severin scoring near the end of the half, the teams going in at 14-7 to France. However Di Muzio penalty six minutes into the second half increased the gap to two scores, after which the Italian revival petered out.

Netherlands were pushed all the way by Sweden in the vital fifth place game - vital because victory would give the winners a guaranteed place in next year's European Championship. Though Netherlands lead from the 21st minute, Sweden stayed within striking distance until the final ten minutes, when two converted tries saw them Dutch home 21-5.

Finland's hero of the day was their captain, Minna Raatikka, who scored their first and only try of the tournament. However it was not enough to prevent Russia from taking 7th place with a 22-5 victory.

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