United States wins Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nations Series in Sydney

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Cathedral Square, Sydney — The United States won the Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nations Series against Australia and New Zealand at Cathedral Square in Sydney today.

Chuck Aoki (US) and Ryley Batt (Aus)
Image: Jeff Crow Australian Paralympic Committee.
Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nation series- New Zealand Wheel Blacks
Image: Hawkeye7.
Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nation series- Australia v New Zealand
Image: Hawkeye7.
Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nation series - night match - Australia v United States
Image: Hawkeye7.
Wheelchair Rugby Tri-Nation series- Australia v New Zealand
Image: Hawkeye7.


Game Four, played at 12:30 yesterday, was played between the New Zealand Wheel Blacks and the Australian Steelers before a lunchtime crowd. Australia scored six straight goals in second quarter, to lead 29-44 at half time, and eventually came out the winners 41-57. The game featured an unusual duel between two 3.5-point players, Australia's Ryley Batt and New Zealand's Barney Konerferisi.

In Game Five, played under lights at 17:30 yesterday, the United States proved too good for New Zealand, winning 36-62. Game Six followed immediately after at 19:30. This game, between Australia and United States attracted a sizable and animated crowd that filled the venue. Australia had only beaten the United States once in the last seven years. The Steelers managed to win gold at the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London without having to play them.

Australia opened the game with three straight goals, but the United States caught up, and the score was 14-15 at quarter time, after a last second United States score was counted. While the United States frequently rotated its players, the Steelers had Ryley Batt, Chris Bond, Ryan Scott and Nazim Erdem on the court the whole time. Their strong defence caused timeouts and subsequent turnovers. Low-pointer Ryan Scott became an unlikely hero by prompting two turnovers. Australia won 64-53.

Game Seven was the Semi-Final, between Australia and New Zealand, and was played at 12:00 today. The weather was warm and sunny. The New Zealanders performed a Haka, but it did not bring victory. This time Australia rotated its players, and Bond and Batt were on the court together only briefly just before half time, and again in the last four minutes. Australia won handily, 62-45.

The Final game was therefore between the United States and Australia under lights at 17:00 on today. The commentators called it "Friday Night Footy". Australia once again played Bond, Batt, Erdem and Scott together, and took off to a three-goal lead, but the United States fought back with good defensive plays, tying the score at 14-all at quarter time. The United States scored three goals straight in the second quarter to take a 29-25 lead at half time. Hopes that Australia could repeat its win of the night before were dashed. The United States team had tight discipline and made few mistakes, in the end, winning 58-54.

Medals were presented to the players, coaches and team staff by Greg Hartung, the President of the Australian Paralympic Committee. The players of all three teams voted for the Most Valuable Player of the series, which went to Ryley Batt.

This is believed to be the first time that an international wheelchair rugby tournament has been held outdoors.


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