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Great Britain Women have succumbed to defeat in the IFAF European Championship – losing 21-16 to newly-crowned champions Spain under the floodlights in Calatayud, Zaragoza.

Images courtesy of Geoff White

Despite twice leading through first-half touchdowns from Siobhan Walker and Ruth Matta, the Lions found themselves frustrated by their hosts who emerged victorious after a second-half fightback.

Under a setting sun in Calatayud, Zaragoza, the Great Britain Lions got off to the perfect start with an opening kick-off touchdown return from all-round playmaker Siobhan Walker. This explosive start would be soon quelled by an injury break, lasting almost an hour, as Great Britain defensive line Delta Npuna was taken to hospital for treatment.

Retuning from the break in play Walker extended the British lead, tackling Spain’s punter in their end-zone and forcing a safety.

Spain found their response in the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns, one through the air and one on the ground, bringing the score to 15-9 in their favour. The Lions would have the final say of the half, however, as Ruth Matta collected a screen pass from quarterback Rachael Tumelty and powered forwarded through tacklers into the end zone. Kicker Samantha Read added the extra point to give Great Britain a slender 15-16 lead at the half.

The second half painted a much different picture for Great Britain, who found themselves largely frustrated with the ball in hand.

Despite multiple turnovers forced by the Lions defense, notably a forced-fumble by defensive line Sarah-Jane Brain, and an interception by linebacker Sydney Green, Great Britain could not sustain momentum on offense.

As the clock drained and the game reached its two-minute warning, Spain eventually broke through the Lions blockade, scoring a passing touchdown to go ahead 21-16 and leave the Lions with just seconds for a response.

Tumelty and her offense gathered themselves to drive to Spain’s 25 yard line, powered by effort plays from Matta, a 15-yard 4th down conversion to Walker, and the noise of the infallible British supporters in attendance. Ultimately it was the clock that had the final say, ending the game and securing victory for the Spanish.

With Spain’s third straight victory in the competition leaving them in an unassailable position atop the standings, – they are crowned European Champions with a round of fixtures still to play. Great Britain now move to a record of 1 win and 2 losses – with Finland up next at Sixways Stadium in August.