Spain moved within touching distance of an 11th Rugby Europe Women’s Championship title with a 22-5 defeat of the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

It took Las Leonas less than three minutes to get on the scoreboard at the National Rugby Centre Stadium as flanker Lia Pineiro burrowed over from close range and fly-half Amalia Argudo added the conversion.

Winger Clara Piquero took a scoring pass from full-back Claudia Peña Hidalgo just under 15 minutes later and following a TMO check the Spanish lead stretched to 12 points.

Peña Hidalgo turned from provider to scorer in the 33rd minute as she returned an attempted clearance kick with interest, slaloming through four tackles on her way to the line. Argudo supplied her second conversion of the afternoon to make the score 19-0.

That is the way it remained until the 57th minute when replacement hooker Brechtje Karst powered over from close range to cap a fine team move by the Netherlands.

Peña Hidalgo calmed Spanish nerves with a penalty on the hour mark, and Las Leonas were able to see out victory.

Spain’s inability to claim a try-scoring bonus point keeps them second in the standings, but they can leapfrog the Netherlands in first when they take on Sweden in the final match of the 2024 edition on Saturday.

Las Leonas will wrap up a seventh successive title as long as they avoid defeat in Sweden.

Victory in Amsterdam gave 13th-place Spain 1.49 rating points in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, which closes the gap to South Africa in 12th to just 0.137 points.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, lost the same number of points in exchange and have subsequently dropped below Samoa to 16th.

Elsewhere in Europe, Andorra have entered the rankings in 33rd following an impressive 119-0 victory against Bulgaria on their test debut.

As a result of their defeat in their second test match, Bulgaria dropped six places to 47th in the rankings, while the 18 teams beneath have also slipped one place as a result of Andorra’s introduction.

(Photo credit: Natascha van Mullem/SportSnapNl)