Sydney 2018: Australia and USA on course

Pre-tournament favourites close to wheelchair rugby showdown 08 Aug 2018
male wheelchair rugby player Josh Wheeler of USA sprints away with the ball

USA beat Canada to seal their place at the top of Pool B and set up a semi-final against Japan

ⒸDisability Sports Australia
By Beau Greenway | For the IPC

Defending champions Australia and Paralympic silver medallists USA are just one win away from contesting another major final after their victories on day four (8 August) at the 2018 World Championship in Sydney, Australia.

Both went through their respective pools undefeated and will cross over to opposite sides for Thursday’s semi-finals.

The USA started the day with a 47-33 defeat of Poland before securing top spot in Pool B with a 54-47 win against Canada. They will face Japan for a spot in the gold medal game.

“There’s been solid teamwork all across the board, everyone gets good minutes and we can come out on fire every time,” USA’s Ernie Chun said.

“There’s not many teams that have multiple lines like we do, we run our whole bench. I have confidence in my team, as long as we execute, we should be good.”

Australia scored an impressive 65-52 victory against previously unbeaten Japan to top Pool A, backing it up from a comfortable 70-44 result against Ireland earlier in the day. That sets them up with Great Britain in the final four.

“I think we only conceded one turnover (against Japan), so I’m really happy about that, but sort of annoyed we only had one timeout on the board,” Steelers’ captain Ryley Batt said.

“For us to play like that against a quality team like Japan, we’re really happy. We’ve been in this situation many times and it’s about telling the new guys the job’s not done yet,” he added.

“[Great Britain have] got a lot balance and a lot of speed, it’s going to be a very tough game and I’m expecting a closer one than that.”

Great Britain and Japan advance

Great Britain booked their place in the semi-finals with a gritty 47-41 win against France.

The French had the early advantage and forced two British timeouts in the first term. But the European champions fought their way back to snatch a place in the last four.

“We’ve hit all the targets we wanted to, we had a game plan and we went out there and executed it,” Great Britain’s Jamie Stead said.

“We’ve got a full pack of cards really, we’ve got a player in every classification which gives us loads of lines and everyone here is strong and can come on and contribute at any time.”

Despite the loss to Australia, Japan’s 52-42 win over Denmark was enough to earn a spot in the semi-finals.

“Our ultimate goal is to win a gold medal in 2020 (at the Tokyo Paralympics) in front of our home crowd,” Japan coach Kevin Orr said after their loss to Australia.

“Obviously we’d like to win a World Championship along the way, but it’s the little pieces of what can we learn so we can win in 2020.”

Canada celebrate

It may have taken until day four, but Canada finally got off the mark with a 59-46 victory against Colombia.

Canada, Colombia and Poland all finished with one win in Pool B, but Canada’s performances against the other teams in the group assured they finished fourth and will enter the fifth to eighth-place bracket.

“We’ve got six guys here at their first World Championships, so you’re going to have your ups and downs,’ Canadian captain Trevor Hirschfield said.

“To come away with a win today and be able to move on to a good crossover is good for the guys.”

They will meet Denmark – third in Pool A – in the crossovers.

Sweden and New Zealand played out another classic with the Swedes holding on for a narrow 54-52 victory.