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Spanish title returns to Madrid

Madrid's Olímpico de Pozuelo, unbeaten in the group phase, clinched the Spanish champions – the Division de Honor Iberdrola – but were pushed all the way in the final.

Historically the Spain’s club tournament has been dominated by one club - INEF Barcelona. Their 2016 title was their 11th in the 28-year history of the championship, with no other team winning more than three.

But the 2017 Division de Honor was very different. Three defeats in their opening three games put Barcelona out of the running, eventually resulting in their failure to reach even the semi-finals for the first time in over a decade.

Instead the team of the qualification phase was 2014 champions Olímpico de Pozuelo from Madrid, who won all of their seven games. They were joined in the semi-finals by last year’s runners’up, Majadahonda (also from Madrid), 2015 champions CRAT, from the University of Coruña in Galicia, and Basque team Getxo.

An all-Madrid semi-final at the end of April saw Olimpico beat Majadahonda 17-0, and CRAT beat Getxo 12-0, setting up last weekend’s final.

Favourites Olimpico started slowly, with the CRAT backline of Vanesa Rial, Shaan Waru and Berta Garcia, doing the damage.

Waru scored the first try, converted by Olaya Lopez, after 9 minutes. Marta Garcia replied for Olimpico 7 minutes later, by the initiative remained with CRAT anon 23 minute the power of Berta Garcia opened up the Olimpico defence, before Vanessa Rial scored the second CRAT try.

With both tests, Carlos Bernados started with the changes to control the 10 and 12, but was not effective in principle.

The score was 14-5 to CRAT at halftime and early in the second half they scored a third try, from Turena Lorie, slipping three Madrid tackles before scoring.

Leading 21-5, the title seemed to be going to Galicia but the turning point of the game came when the benches came into play. CRAT’s dominance faded while Oli defence strengthened.

With 30 minutes to go, Olimpico struck back through Maria Ahis. Five minutes later, a mistake of hands by the CRAT backline, allowed a third try, through Barbara Garcia. 21 to 5 had gone to be 21 to 19 and tension was palpable on the field.

Olimpico grew in confidence and when they had a chance they did not waste. A penalty kick by Maria Ahis put them ahead 22 to 21, with 11 minutes to go.

CRAT efforts to rescue the game proved fruitless and it was Olimpico who were able to celebrate their second Spanish title.

OLIMPICO (17): Raquel Prieto, Isabel Rico, María Sobrinos, Amanda Prado, Marta Iglesias, Jimena Parra, Araceli Diaz, Isabel Macías, Elena Bilbao, Maria Manglano, Barbara Garcia, Eva Aguirre, Sabina Hurtado,Sara Garcia Mina, Irene Schiavón.
Replacements: Esther Cardenal, Natalia Ortega, Luz Martin, Maria Ahis, Cristina Casillas y Miriam Vega, Yara Tamayo, Marta Garcia.

CRAT (12): Melani Abad, Selene Roz, Laura Delgado, Raquel Bahameonde, Monica Castelo, Angela Soria, Elsa Porto, Shenna Sidin, Paula Medin, Vanesa Rial, Tania Garcia, Shan Waru, Olaya Lopez, Turena Lorie, Berta Garcia.
Replacements: Claudia Diaz, Silvia Vazquez y Ainhoa Portos, Irene Breton, Ana Iglesias, Beatriz Alvarez, Paula Burillo.