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5 May 2012

Australia sweeps Japan in wheelchair rugby five-test series

The Australian Steelers have sent a resounding warning to their rivals ahead of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, by sealing a five-nil series victory over Japan in Sydney.

 

After winning the opening three clashes yesterday at the Sydney Olympic Park State Sports Centre, the Australians claimed game four of the series 47-44 today and then ensured a clean sweep with an emphatic 61-55 triumph in game five.

 

With both teams ranked in the world’s top three, the Australians (ranked second) showed they will certainly be hard to stop in their bid for a position in the London 2012 gold medal game.

 

The Japanese team, ranked three, were highly fancied to threaten the Steelers for the series crown but just could not find an answer to Australia’s potent line-up.

 

Australian coach Brad Dubberley said the series victory emphasised how well his team is shaping up with less than 120 days to go until the Paralympic opening ceremony.

 

“It’s hard to find a negative, I honestly can’t think of anything bad that has come out of this tournament for us,” Dubberley said.

 

“We have achieved a five-nil result against the number three team in the world and that couId not make me happier at this stage of our charge towards the Paralympics.

 

“The most pleasing thing about this series is that every single player contributed. Even Cody Meakin who is our most inexperienced player played some big quality minutes and showed he belonged here.”

 

In game four this morning, the Australians led at every change with Chris Bond (18 goals, Ryley Batt (13 goals) and Andrew Harrison (four goals) doing the bulk of the scoring on the way to their three-goal win.

 

Then facing a clean-sweep, Japan came out all guns blazing in the final game and converted their 15-13 quarter time lead into a 30-28 half-time advantage.

 

But that’s where the comeback ended as the Australians went on an attacking blitz in the third quarter by out-scoring Japan 19-9 to take a 47-39 lead in the last break.

 

From there the Australians cruised home, with Josh Hose (seven goals) and co-captains Ryan Scott (three goals) and Cameron Carr (three goals) all offering outstanding attacking support of powerhouse duo Bond (20 goals) and Batt (19 goals).

 

On the verge of his second Paralympic Games, Carr was a proud skipper after making his return to the Australian team for this tournament. The co-captain missed the recent London test event to remain at home with wife Kim for their birth of their first child.

 

“The team never really talked about winning the series five-nil. But we always have an expectation of ourselves to play at the highest level we can and win games convincingly,” Carr said.

 

“Japan has improved so much over the last few years and I really think they will be there in the medal rounds at the Paralympics. So to beat them five-nil is a great achievement.

 

“I didn’t get to go to the London test event last month so I was really keen to come here and play well. It was a great tournament to be a part of, and now we’re looking forward to bigger things to come later in the year.”

 

Australia will now set its sights on the Canada Cup in June before the London Paralympic Games begin on August 29.

 

Game 4: AUS 47 – JPN 44

(Australian goal scorers: Chris Bond 18, Ryley Batt 13, Andrew Harrison 4, Cameron Carr 3, Ben Newton 3, Josh Hose 2, Cody Meakin 2, Greg Smith 2)

 

Game 5: AUS 61 – JPN 55

(Australian goal scorers: Chris Bond 20, Ryley Batt 19, Greg Smith 3, Ryan Scott 3, Andrew Harrison 2, Ben Newton 2, Cameron Carr 1)

 

Australia v Japan

International Wheelchair Rugby Test Series

Sydney Olympic Park State Sports Centre

4-5 May 2012

 

Friday, 4 May

Game 1: AUS 63 – JPN 47

Game 2: AUS 63 – JPN 60

Game 3: AUS 55 – JPN 54

 

Saturday, 5 May

Game 4: AUS 47 – JPN 44

Game 5: AUS 61 – JPN 55