|Spanish joy at the final whistle|
The match of the day - and one of the most exciting women's internationals ever - was in Pool A where the champions and hosts, Spain, took on "France A" - despite its name, a team almost indistinguishable from the team that finished runner-up in this year's Six Nations.
Playing with the help of a strong breeze the French dominated play at the start - Spain being unable to get out of their own half. The far larger French pack also dominated and, with the help of the wind, France opened the scoring with a penalty on 13 minutes.
However, from the restart Spain up their game. A lineout in the French 22 results in a well rehearsed Spanish maul - and a try! The crowd goes mad. But the lead does not last long - another penalty on 35 meters, in the centre of the field, and its 5-6 to France. Then, a few minutes later, French forward power results in a try for the visitors and, though the Spanish have plenty of ball, at the end of the half it remains 11-5 to France.
|A noisy, excited crowd of 1700 cheered |
on Spain, after 1500 on Day One.
How many will there be when Spain
meet England in the final on Saturday?
Desperate Spanish defence - and with seconds left a French penalty. Slightly off centre - but kickable - but its an awful attempt. Cue wild celebrations...
Just as significantly, France's kicking problems have now lost them a game - even maybe a championship, as on paper they have the strongest squad. They have to find a kicker...
As it is Spain need only beat Sweden and they are in the final. Sweden saw off Finland competently, if unspectacularly, 20-0, to wrap up at least third place in Pool A.
Pool B was rather more predictable, England A seeing off Netherlands 36-0 - all points coming in the first half. England seemed to use the second as opposed practice, bringing all the reserves on and trying out different formations. Italy A similarly eased past Russia 34-0.
As a result - short of some miracles tomorrow - on Saturday Netherlands should be trying to avoid the wooden spoon against Finland, Russia will be playing for 5th against Sweden, France will be aiming for third against Italy, and Spain will be up against England for the title... and who is to say that they won't be successful.