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Carys Cox inspires Wales to WXV play-off victory against Spain

By Martyn Thomas
England v Wales – Guinness Women’s Six Nations – Ashton Gate

Wales ran in five unanswered tries in a stunning second-half performance at Cardiff Arms Park to surge to WXV 2 2024 qualification with a 52-20 victory against Spain.

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The result also confirms the hosts’ place at Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 and gives Ioan Cunningham’s side something to build on following their disappointing Women’s Six Nations campaign.

Wales – who appeared in the inaugural WXV 1 tournament last year – finished bottom of the Six Nations table in April, with only one win from their five matches, meaning they needed to beat Spain on Saturday to avoid playing in the third level this September and October.

Fixture
Women's Internationals
Wales Women's
52 - 20
Full-time
Spain Women
All Stats and Data

A sublime second-half hat-trick from winger Carys Cox helped Wales book their tickets to South Africa, having turned around only a point in front at 21-20. The heartbroken Spanish will console themselves with a place in WXV 3 in Dubai.

It looked as though Wales would canter to victory early on in Cardiff as tries from Alex Callender and Abbie Fleming were converted by Keira Bevan to put the hosts 14-0 up.

Spain refused to buckle, though, and took advantage of Cox’s time in the sin bin to score 15 unanswered points of their own and take the lead.

Following an Amalia Argudo penalty, Spain scored tries through Ines Antolinez and Claudia Peña. Argudo had set up the first of those with an electric break, and she converted prop Antolinez’s score too.

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Player of the Match Alisha Joyce-Butchers scored her first try of the match to help Wales regain the lead shortly after Peña’s effort. But there was still time before half-time for Claudia Perez to bring Spain within one point with a fine finish from a lineout move.

Cox made amends for her earlier yellow card within six minutes of the restart, breaking through three attempted tackles to score her first try of the match.

Following a TMO check, Joyce-Butchers was awarded her second score 10 minutes later, before Bevan added her fifth successive conversion, to put the Wales 35-20 in front.

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And in the final quarter, the home side took full advantage of their visitors’ tiring legs with Cox crossing the whitewash twice more, either side of a Jenny Hesketh try.

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“It feels great,” Joyce-Butchers said after the match. “I feel like we really deserved that today. We’ve worked really hard for it.

“I know we haven’t together long as a group. It’s great to get a win and move on swiftly from that Six Nations.”

Victory capped a memorable day for Joyce-Butchers, who had earlier become an aunty.

She added: “It’s been a great build up this week. I think we’ve shown glimpses there of what we can do when we keep the ball and we have the ball in our hands.

“We’ll definitely look to kick on in WXV 2 with that as well.”

The Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now here to be the first to hear about tickets.

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Tom 45 minutes ago
All Blacks snatch another tight victory from England at Eden Park

First up to any of the ABs fans who accused us of “bluster” pre-series for saying it would be a competitive - I'm glad it turned out to be an excellent series to which the ABs were deserving winners and I hope next time a side tours you'll be a little more humble. I loved the heart shown by the English boys and how they managed to contain the AB attack for large parts of the series. Was very disappointed by the lack of cohesion and ambition ball in hand, we looked after the ball poorly and hardly went 2 phases without kicking it away. We're not giving ourselves enough opportunity to put phases together and build pressure. The ambition shown in the 6N against Ireland and France seems to have gone and our players look very hesitant with ball in hand, we look much better when Marcus is taking the ball flat and boys are running hard at the line. So frustrating when we're starting to build pressure in the 22 we go back to the grubber kick then find ourselves back on the half way line 10 seconds later. We've shown great success with our box kicking game but we need to leave the flipping grubber kick in the locker room. Like the Marcus Smith hail Mary miss pass that went straight to Mark Telea, we seem to have no patience. Sometimes we just need to recycle the ball and go again. Loving seeing Maro back to his best and Fin Baxter really impressed, Alex Mitchell looks to be one of the most complete 9s in world rugby, great around the base and impeccable kicking. Congrats to the ABs, far more dangerous and skillful than England. We contained you for large swathes but to shut down that amount of pace and skill for 80 mins is nigh on impossible. Managed to find a way to win and instinctively grabbed the rare opportunities which came your way. Finding ways to win in two tight test matches will I'm sure be a great experience for your younger players. Beauden needs to be in the starting 15, what a worldie.

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