Switzerland reaches Final of Rugby Europe Women's Championship
At the Rugby Europe Women's Championship in Unterägeri (ZG), Switzerland beat Russia in a breathtaking semi-final and will go on to face Belgium in the Championship final on Sunday, November 1st, at 14:00. Belgium beat the Czech Republic in their own exciting semi-final match. Russia and the Czech Republic will face off for Bronze at 11:30 on Sunday 1.11.2015.
Switzerland 27, Russia 12 (HT: 10-12)
The second semi-final began much as the first, with Russia racing into an early 12-5 lead, but after that the story of the game was very different.
After a tense and exciting third-place game in 2014 – won by Russia – this always looked as if it would be an exciting game, and so it proved to be as Switzerland fought back from their bad start. Much of the rest of the half was spent inside the Russian 22, but it was only near the end of the forty minutes that the Swiss finally broke through. But with the score out wide, the conversion was missed giving Russia a narrow lead at the break.
The second half continued much the same way, with Switzerland having most of the ball, but Russia looking dangerous on the break. Switzerland scored an early try to take the lead 17-12, but it was a lead that never seemed safe. Despite having a lighter – and significantly less experienced – pack, Russia had the upper hand at most scrums, and repeatedly managed to turn the Swiss over, so it was not until two more tries in the closing minutes that the home team could be confident of victory.
Technically it may not have been a classic. These are teams more used to sevens than fifteens, and the game was played in a style closer to the shorter-style game, with penalties almost invariably being run even when they occurred in front of the opposition posts. But the teams were perfectly matched, and the result always seemed in doubt. With the addition of an enthusiastic crowd and the continual peel of cow bells, the atmosphere was terrific. It seems a pity that the two sides can only meet each other once a year.
Belgium 20, Czech Republic 3 (HT: 15-3)
Belgium qualified for the final beating a brave Czech Republic team. The victory was built early in the game when Belgians planted two early tries from Ciska Degrave, and after the first quarter of an hour they lead 12-3. With Systke Haeseleir adding a penalty in the 35th minute, the Lionesses lead 15-3 at the break.
It was a narrow lead against a young, hard-working – if inexperienced - team. However, although they had plenty of possession, the Czechs rarely managed to break through the Belgian 22, only really threatening the line in the final minutes. By then a try from by Cécile Blondiau, shortly before the hour mark, had sealed victory ended for Belgium, 20 to 3.
Despite defeat this was almost certainly the best performance by a Czech team so far against the highest ranked team that they have yet played. Apart from a shaky opening fifteen minutes the Belgian team struggled to break down the Czech defence and, if they can keep their current young team together, and perhaps play one or two more tests each year, the results could be very different in the future.
Article courtesy of www.scrumqueens.com
Find the match sheets as PDFs below.