Wales clinch 2025 World Cup spot with Spain rout

Wales booked their place at the 2025 World Cup with an eight-try victory over Spain in Cardiff.

Carys Cox scored a second-half hat-trick as Wales recovered from a shaky first half to finally shrug off their visitors.

Alex Callender and Abbie Fleming crossed early on before Alisha Joyce-Butchers crossed twice and Jenny Hesketh added another score.

The victory also saw Wales secure their place in WXV2, which is to be held in South Africa in September.

It offered Wales a glimmer of hope at the end of a frustrating season that was reflected by the disappointing crowd of 2,436 at the Arms Park.

Head coach Ioan Cunningham will be mightily relieved after cracks in his team's game and confidence were exposed by Rugby Europe Championship winners Spain, who had their hosts rattled with the score at 21-20 in Wales' favour at half-time.

A clash of styles between the Welsh forwards and Spanish backs produced a thrilling first half that featured six tries.

Wales must have thought they were on track for victory when they crossed twice inside the opening 12 minutes.

Callender raced through from number eight Bethan Lewis' clever inside pass before lock Fleming crashed over after Kerin Lake was inches short of a score on her 50th cap.

But Spain, on a seven-game winning run, refused to buckle and Cox's yellow card for deliberately blocking a pass was not only needless but costly.

It opened the space Spain were seeking and they struck twice in seven minutes.

A scorching break by fly-half Amalia Argudo was finished by prop Ines Antolinez before full-back Claudia Pena put Spain ahead 15-14 with the second.

Wales flanker Joyce-Butchers squeezed over to reclaim the lead, but the advantage was swiftly cut to a point when Claudia Perez stepped through defenders to score just before half-time.