WXV: USA and Spain win on Day 2

Spain were comfortable 32-0 winners against Kenya on Saturday in WXV3, but USA faced more of a challenge from Samoa in WXV2

Published by John Birch, October 15th, 2023

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WXV: USA and Spain win on Day 2

WXV2: USA 36 Samoa 26

USA scored six tries to secure a bonus point 36-26 win in their WXV 2 opener at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, but they were pushed all the way by Samoa.

The Women's Eagles had quite a bit of possession early on before, with their first attack, Samoa took the lead. It came in the seventh minute when right winger Linda Fiafia came of her flank to great effect, powerfully getting past USA scrum-half Carly Waters and running under the posts for an excellent try. Fly-half Cassie Siataga converted and it was 7-0. USA got their first points on the board in the 14th minute when left-wing Lotte Clapp went over for a try after being set up by a neat pass by fly-half Gabriella Cantorna. The 10 could not convert and it was 7-5.

Two minutes later Samoa hooker Lulu Leuta was yellow carded after a TMO check following shoulder to head contact. USA took advantage of the player advantage and, after some neat phases, inside-centre Atumata Hingano went over on her debut. Cantorna converted and it was 12-7.

By the time Leuta returned to the fray the score was the same and with 15 players Samoa set about causing problems, tight-head prop Rereglory Aiono with one strong run before the half-hour mark. In the 32nd minute they scored their second try of the day when Siataga’s lovely pass set up full-back Karla Wright-Akeli who burst through to score with Cantorna converting to make it 14-12.

With the clock in the red, second-row Hallie Taufoou scored USA’s third try just before the interval after a great break from Hingano. It was unconverted and was 17-14. USA started the second period with a bang too, right-wing Tess Feury bursting away for their bonus-point fourth try. Cantorna converted and suddenly it was 24-14.

Hingano’s impressive first cap continued as her break set up captain Kate Zackary for USA try number five which was converted by Cantorna to make it 31-14. Rachel Johnson, the number eight, then grabbed USA’s sixth try which was unconverted, but they were 36-14 up and in control.

Samoa were not done yet though, replacement Avau Filimaua going over for their third try in the 66th minute and scrum-half Bella Milo converting to make it 36-21. In the 74th minute they secured their own four-try bonus point when Wright-Akeli scored a five pointer, her second, to make it 36-26, but USA held on despite late pressure.

WXV3: Spain 32 Kenya 0

Spain kept Kenya scoreless, and crossed the whitewash four times themselves, to open their WXV 3 campaign with a 32-0 win in Dubai. Any slight trepidation heading into the first meeting between these two sides was neutralised by Spain within two minutes when captain Cristina Blanco crashed over from a powerful driving maul to take an early lead. The Spanish lead was extended soon after in a theme that lasted much of the game when number eight Maria Calvo showed her pace to dot down her side's second try of the opening 10 minutes with Amalia Argudo converting both.

Kenya grew into the game in the following 20 minutes and a strong period of possession stunted the Spanish momentum, with Argudo knocking over a penalty to keep the scoreboard ticking.

The European champions remained on the back foot in terms of possession, but added their third try on the half-hour mark with winger Claudia Pérez racing in under little pressure from the Lionesses defence following some slick handling in the back-line. Kenya continued to push their opposition but Spain’s third try gave them stability to hold out for the remainder of the half.

In the early stages of the second half both sides seemed to neutralise any attacking threat coming from the opposition, taking almost 15 minutes for any scoreboard action. The half's first try came when blindside flanker Vico Gorrochategui picked an excellent line through  the Kenyan defence to race under the posts, with replacement Zahia Pérez adding conversion. Pérez added a penalty to extend her side's lead as the game ticked into the final quarter but both sides' momentum was stunted as the teams began to unload their respective benches.

Spain continued to push for a fifth try, with their position 10 places higher in the World Rugby Women's Rankings powered by Capgemini showing as they kept the Kenyans scoreless throughout the game despite the best efforts of the Lionesses.

Despite the Spaniards persistent efforts, it remained a four-try victory for the European side.