"VAN" (Sports Desk - 26.09.2021) :: It was a dramatic day of action at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on Saturday, but after two cracking matches, it was hosts Italy who finished top of the Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier standings to confirm their place alongside Canada and USA in Pool B in New Zealand next year.

The Azzurre saw off Spain 34-10 with a crucial bonus point in the first game of the day to move onto 10 points, meaning Ireland had to beat Scotland with a bonus point to claim the Europe 1 spot on the head-to-head rule, having overcome Italy 15-7 in round two.

Ireland looked on course for a narrow win that would have taken them into the Final Qualification Tournament that will determine the 12th and final qualifier for RWC 2021, until Sarah Law kicked a conversion with the final act of the game to snatch a 20-18 victory that keeps alive Scotland’s hopes of reaching a first Rugby World Cup since 2010.

Scotland join Samoa and Colombia as the teams confirmed for the four-team Final Qualification Tournament with the runner-up from the Asia regional process still to be determined.

Italy head coach Andrea di Giandomenico said: “The players must take all of the credit for this result today and what we have to come in the future because they work so hard for each other and love to represent their country. I feel like Italy deserves to go straight to the World Cup with the way we have played in recent matches.

“Probably the turning point of the tournament was the week between the defeat against Ireland and this game against Spain, the way we handled the pressure was impressive to go on and play well and not make mistakes like we had done in the last game.”


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