Chiefs duo help Spain to victory

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Exeter Chiefs scrum-half Patricia Garcia looks to get Spain on the attack against Ireland in their Rugby World Cup qualifier. Picture: Getty Images

By Harry Scott-Munro

Exeter Chiefs duo Laura Delgado and Patricia Garcia moved a step closer to qualification for this year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup as they helped Spain to a famous 8-7 win over Ireland.

Delgado, who led the side into action in Parma, watched on as scrum-half Garcia slotted her side in front with an early penalty.

Ireland, though, raced back into the match and responded almost immediately, Beibhinn Parsons producing a brilliant finish to score in the left corner, before Stacey Flood converted to open up a four-point advantage for her side.

That was a rare highlight in a game which failed to deliver too much in terms of quality. However, it was Las Leonas who prospered late on, debutant Lea Ducher dotting down to secure the victory, their first victory over Ireland since 2005.

Speaking at full-time, Spain’s head coach José Antonio Barrio admitted that he had always maintained the belief that his side could upset the odds.

"Winning against Ireland is a dream, but it doesn't end there,” he explained. "We knew it was going to be a tough match, but with all due respect to Ireland, we knew we could beat them. It was going to be an even game, with few chances, but we have worked on confidence and the players have responded."

Spain continue their hunt for a place at Rugby World Cup 2021 on Sunday, as they take on a Scotland side, who know that anything other than a victory will end their hopes of qualifying.

In their latest qualifier, the Scots – who included Chiefs newcomer Chloe Rollie in their starting line-up – were well beaten by 38-13 by Italy.

It took less than two minutes for the hosts to score the first try as flanker Giada Franco powered over from close range with Michela Sillari adding the first of her four conversions.

Helen Nelson landed a penalty to get Scotland on the board, but Italy took control of the contest with two tries in four minutes midway through the first half.

Winger Maria Magatti used her strength to score her first in the right corner, before Ilaria Arrighetti and Lucia Gai combined to send Sara Barattin racing through to score under the posts.

Nelson struck a second penalty in the 34th minute, but Arrighetti ensured Italy went into half-time with a commanding 26-6 lead when she took a pass from Veronica Madia, powered into the 22 and held off the attentions of two defenders to score.

Scotland began the second half in the ascendancy but Nelson missed a kick at goal and when the next score came, it was to the hosts.

Centre Sillari finished off a brilliant team move in the 55th minute and then, on the hour mark, captain Manuela Furlan beat the Scottish defence to Madia’s clever chip ahead to dot down Italy’s sixth try.

Italian replacement Francesca Sgorbini was shown a yellow card soon after and Scotland took advantage as Rhona Lloyd produced a strong finish to score in the right corner.

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