Source: Sitges Rugby

The Latin Challenge Completed

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Zebre Parma v Iberinas Sitges

The last of the four matches in this new tournament has been completed. A win for Sitges over Zebre 26-5 away marks the first Spanish win over the Italians. That in itself must make the whole operation worthwhile for the Spaniards.

They dominated up front, allowing Inés Antolinez to force her way over the line. Then a fine catch and drive from an attacking line-out brought a penalty try for the visitors. More raids were well defended by the Zebras, and it needed the captain, Cristina Blanco, to complete the third try. She may have felt at home in Sitges’ colours: they are strikingly similar to her current club’s, Trailfinders.

Full-back Claudia Peña, helped keep the hosts on the back foot with the power and accuracy of her boot.

Half-time: 0-21

Sitges consolidated their lead with a second offering from Antolinez. From there Zebre came more into the picture, but their only reward came right at the end of the game, try to Gaia Dosi. So the half finished with a try each, but Sitges’ dominance early on had swung the game.

It was good to see a female head coach, Aroa González, taking charge of a fine away victory.

When I first glanced at the two Italian franchises, Benetton looked much the stronger unit. But Zebre could still field a number of well-known names from Six Nations encounters, like skipper Valeria Fedrighi, Isabella Locatelli and Francesca Granzotto.

Final score: 5-26

Will the Italian coaching team feel that these two matches offered sufficient evidence to help establish their best training squad for the 6N? That s why I ask the question: can the two nations see their way to increasing the scope of the competition next year? The organisers of the Celtic Challenge did just that, and it proved its worth straight away. There must be scope within the two Latin unions for expansion; but we must wait and see.

The original plan, though innovative in itself, had an element of caution in it. Just the four games, played in two pairs with a gap of four weeks between them.

In the other return match Iberians Valencia went down 12-41 to Benetton in Treviso.


Zebre Parma: 1. Beatrice Turolla, 2.  Chiara Cheli, 3.  Alice Cassaghi, 4. Valeria Fedrighi (captain), 5. Isabella Locatelli, 6. Elena Errichello, 7. Luna Sacchi, 8. Giulia Cavina, 9. Nicole Mastrangelo, 10. Alessia Gronda, 11. Rubina Emma Grassi, 12. Sara Mannini, 13. Sofia Catellani, 14. Giada Corradini, 15. Francesca Granzotto
Bench: 16. Desiree Spinelli, 17. Giorgia Cuoghi, 18. Angelica Cittadini, 19. Mascia Jelic, 20. Melania Galleani, 21. Gaia Buso, 22. Arianna Toeschi, 23. Sara Negroni

Iberians Sitges: 1. Inés Antolinez, 2. Cristina Blanco (captain), 3. Sidorella Bracic, 4. Anna Puig, 5. Bea Rivera, 6. Nerea Garcia, 7. Sara Marin, 8. Valentina Perez, 9. Alba Alpin, 10. Inés Bueso- Inchausti, 11. Clara Piquero, 12. Carmen Miranda, 13. Alba Vinuesa, 14. Bet Segarra, 15. Claudia Peña
Bench: 16. Nuria Jou, 17. Marina Garcia, 18. Mireia De Andres, 19. Leyre Bianchi, 20. Irene Aires, 21. Rita Hinolosa, 22. Silvia Julia, 23. Martina Marquez

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