In what is quickly shaping up to be the battle to avoid relegation, every meeting between Russia and Spain on the final day will be important in the efforts of both teams to maintain core status for next season. Coming into Las Vegas, Spain sat in fourteenth in the Series standings with sixteen points, while Russia trailed at fifteenth with exactly half the number of points. Spain began the season with consecutive losses in the trophy final, but has since finished dead last in each of the last two tournaments. Russia is also no stranger to last place, having fallen that low in three of four contests. In a grand total of 9 matches in the trophy bracket for the season, Russia has posted an abysmal 1–8 record. By comparison, Spain has gone 4–7.
The first points of the contest went to Russia when Vitaly Zhivatov crossed two minutes into the match. Sergei Ianiushkin’s conversion attempt shaded just to the right of the post, making it 5–0 Russia at the restart.
A short-arm penalty from the restart had Spain on the attack. Following an unfortunate penalty against Russia ten meters from its own line as the Spanish runner slipped into a tackle, making the tackle high, Spain’s Jaike Carter was able to draw the defense in and hit Francisco Hernandez for the offload and the try to the right of the sticks. Hernandez connected on the conversion for the fifth-minute lead.
Spain heavily contested the restart, initially pinning Russia against the left touchline. But Russia worked the ball up the pitch and German Davydov managed to pancake a would-be Spanish tackler to break away for a try under the post. Ianiushkin’s kick was good for the extra points, which is where the match stood on halftime.
Russia won the second-half restart, but ceded possession on a passing error thirty seconds into the half. Spain proved impatient with the possession and Manuel Sainz attempted to kick behind the defense but was easily outrun by the Russian sweeper. The Spanish narrowly escaped a Russian score on the counterattack.
After regaining possession, Spain proved more patient on offense, which was handsomely rewarded with a try by Ignacio Rodriguez-Guerra. The makeable conversion was no good, leaving the match for the taking with a quarter of the contest left to play.
Spain secured teh restart and attempted to break the Russian defense with a kick behind. That did not work out, but Russia soon kicked to touch behind the Spanish line but failed to cover the kick well, allowing Pablo Fontes to take the quick throw on his own and then carving up the Russians on attack before dishing off to Jacobo Martin for the seven-pointer.
With a little more than a minute remaining, Spain was called for an error with the restart not going ten meters. Russia contacted the kick, but the official deemed Spain to have touched it first. Russia was soon right back in the match with a try in the right corner by Davydov. But the conversion was off, leaving Spain in front by two. The restart was knocked on and the match ended with Spain the 19–17 victor.
The loss marked the fourth time in only five tournaments that Russia has finished dead last. With the win, Spain is now at least nine points clear of Russia at the bottom of the core-team standings.