Spain prepared for their opening European Championship C game, at home to Malta this Saturday in Valencia, with a 36-24 win over Italy B in Alicante.

The winners of European C – which also includes Greece – the Spaniards taking their place having beaten Latvia, will join five other nations in the 2016 European Qualifiers for the 2017 World Cup.

Spanish national coach Spain coach Darren Fisher said: “We are really looking forward to such a high profile game against Malta this week, the mood in the squad is a mix of excitement and eagerness. We know that these World Cup qualifiers are at another level and we need to prepare well for the intensity the match will bring.”

Asociacion Espagnola de Rugby League took their first fixture to Llometa Stadium in Muro de Alcoy and was rewarded with a crowd of 1,200.

Italy B took the lead after five minutes through winger Paolo Roncaglioni, but tries from Daniel Garcia and Aitor Davila put Spain ahead and a tight tussle ended 18-18 at the break.

A more adventurous XIII del Toro outfit broke the game open in the second period, with centre Antonio Puerta gaining the man of the match award on his debut with a hat trick.

Tiziano Franchini, Federazione Italiana Rugby League vice-president and Italy B player-coach, noted: “We just missed experience on the field, especially during the second half. We played with 15 debutants and 11 were U20, selected from the team that played this summer against England Lionhearts Youth.”

Dani Garcia, Chris López, Antonio Puerta, Andrew Pilkington, Olivier Guiroguy, Iván Ordaz, Miguel Blanco, Antoni Tolmos, Mané Muñoz, Dani Moreno, Adrià Alonso, Isaac Pulgar, Aitor Dàvila.
Subs: Gonzalo Morro, Juan Pablo Rango, Diego Lagunas, Raúl Simó

Tries: Antonio Puerta 3, Dani García, Aitor Dàvila, Gonzalo Morro, Diego Lagunas
Goals: Dani García 3/5, Andrew Pilkington 1/2

Patrick Ziliotti, Luca Lattanzi, Immadou el Mehdi, Filippo Affanni, Paolo Roncaglioni, Luca Ferrarello, Tiziano Franchini, Fabio Galletto, Riccardo Dodi, Luca Bondioli, Brad Callagno, Gilberto D’Elia, Michele Veraroi. Subs: Dylan d’Ecole, Rey Oyalvides, Alessandro Santarelli

Tries: Tiziano Franchinni 2, Paolo Roncaglionni, Michele Veraroi
Goals: Riccardo Dodi 4/4

Half time: 18-18
Referee: Tony Palacios