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17 October 2015

Canada wins Gold, USA Silver, and Australia Bronze

Canada become the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge champions as they beat rivals USA 54-50 in a thrilling final encounter in London.  

The two sides had kick started the tournament against each other on Monday, with Canada winning that game by a single point in the pool stages, writes Nathaniel Holland.

Zak Madell had stolen the show for Canada this week in their first four games, but it was his team mate Michael Whitehead who was pushing Canada in the opening moments.

The 3.0 player scored a quick hat-trick in the opening two minutes as they took an early lead against USA.

Although Whitehead was scoring the points, Madell was influential in play and he ended up rolling over for five of his side’s first ten tries.

Madell was pumped for the game and that showed when he sent Eagles star Joe Delagrave flying with a huge smash.

USA were going about their business effectively and didn’t let the threat of Madell get on top of them.

Some superb clock management from James Gumbert’s USA in the closing seconds of the first period gave them a one point advantage into the first quarter as Josh Wheeler crossed the line with two seconds left on the clock.

The one point deficit was the motivation Canada needed and they pressured USA and managed to turnover possession as they quickly drew level and went two points ahead after the second period.

The game was balanced on a knife-edge but Canada retained their two-point lead heading into the final quarter as USA battled to keep them in the game.

Two points was a manageable score for USA to try and pull back but Canada showed great qualities and, just like Monday, it was the Madell/ Aoki duel, with both players rolling over the 20 try mark each in the final period.

Canada were boosted by the performance of captain and leader Trevor Hirschfield as he didn’t put a pass wrong all game to help his team claim victory.

In the final moments Canada stretched the lead by four to end the game with a 54-50 victory to claim gold.


Bronze Medal Match

Australia claimed the first medal of the week in the final day of action when they managed to beat Japan for a second time in five days, writes Nathaniel Holland.

The world champions knew that their spell at the top of the rankings was over following defeat to USA a day previous but they did not let that affect their solid performance against a tricky Japan team, winning the game 60-55.

Having already narrowly beaten the world number four team on Tuesday 65-62, Brad Dubberley knew he would have to set his side up for another challenging encounter with a medal at stake.

The tournament has shown an array of talent throughout the week and the opening exchanges were heavily influenced by two of the stars of the week, Ryley Batt and Daisuke Ikezaki.

Both teams exchanged early tries, as it was a game of patience and tactics to see who could overturn possession and start to build a lead.

With the scores all level in the early minutes, Batt’s partner in crime Chris Bond made a huge difference from the bench, rolling over to score four tries as Australia took a three point lead into the first interval.

Batt was given a breather on the touchline heading into the second period and Bond, with the help of Matt Lewis, were continuing to cause Japan problems.

Lewis managed to score a hat trick of tries in the second period as Japan let the lead slip to five points at half time with the score at 33-28.

Japan knew that they had to start the second half strongly and they did just that with Shinichi Shimakawa scored a quick treble as they pulled the score back to within three points.

Australia replied instantly and restored a big lead with Batt determined not to let his nation slip out of the top three in the world.

The fourth quarter was routine for Australia as Japan struggled to overturn play as they desperately tried to get something from the game.

Australia managed the clock in the closing stages and confirmed their podium finish with a 60-55 victory.


Final Standings
Canada - 5-0 - Gold
United States 3-2 - Silver
Australia - 4-1 - Bronze
Japan 2-3 - 4th Place.
Great Britain - 3-2 - 5th Place
France - 1-4 - 6th Place
New Zealand- 1-4 - 7th Place
South Africa - 0-5 - 8th Place

BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge All Tourney Team
Best 0.5 - Jonny Coggan - GBR
Best 1.0 - Travis HIrschfield - CAN
Best 1.5 - Patrice Simard - CAN
Best 2.0 - Joe Delagrave - USA
Best 2.5 - Josh Wheeler - USA
Best 3.0 - Daisuke Ikezaki - JPN
Best 3.5 - Ryley Batt - AUS
MVP - Zak Madell - CAN
Best Female Players - Coral Batey - GBR & Maia Amai - NZL