Wheelchair rugby qualifiers: USA stays undefeated20.04.2016
Denmark also looked strong on day two in their push toward Rio qualification.
The USA continued their winning run following day two on Tuesday (19 April) of the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) 2016 Paralympic Qualifying Tournament in Paris, France.
New Zealand and Denmark enjoyed double wins, whilst Germany, Finland and host nation France failed to win either of their games on Tuesday.
Competition continues on Wednesday (20 April), with daily results from the Paralympic Qualifier in Paris found on the IWRF website.
Denmark 59-52 Germany
Germany and Denmark went wheel-to-wheel in an epic early morning encounter.
The two sides were evenly matched throughout the tie and Denmark won the early battles to take a two-point advantage into the second quarter. A turning point in the early period of play came with the score at 5-5. Denmark’s Jon Johanneson (2.5) dispossessed Germany’s Andrej Leonhard (2.0), and the ball fell to Leon Jorgensen, who capitalised on the turnover for Denmark.
The second quarter was littered with players spending time in the penalty box, and it was Denmark who made more of a gap in the score, taking a three-point lead into half-time with the score at 30-27.
Denmark were well and truly in their element and managed to double their advantage over the following eight-minute spell, taking the score to 44-38 going into the last period, and the Scandinavians ran down the clock to secure their second win of the week.
USA 60–32 Finland
USA continued their winning streak with a comfortable win over Finland. James Gumbert’s men had all but put the game to bed in the opening quarter with a 13-point gap between them and the opposition.
It was a simple but effective game plan for USA as they built on the lead in the second quarter. Low-pointer Tuomas Tella (0.5) was impressive for Finland, but the performance of USA’s Ernie Chun (2.0) caught the eye. Chun was alert to mark Finland’s Jukka Parviainen (3.5) out of the game, but Finland rallied and Anna Pasanen (0.5) rolled over the line to keep Finland in the points.
With a 35-14 score going into half-time, it was a huge task for Finland as USA piled on more points. USA used the clock well during Parviainen’s stint in the penalty box before he was subbed for Tuukka Nisso.
The final quarter continued in the same fashion and USA confirmed their third victory in two days.
New Zealand 51-46 Germany
In one of the closest games so far, New Zealand narrowly edged out a spirited German side.
Germany, who had only finished playing less than two hours before the next tip-off, looked to be keeping up with a fresh New Zealand side, but it was the Wheel Blacks who took a four-point lead into the first interval.
Germany came out for the second period and battled to halve their deficit and reduce the gap to three points. As the clocked ticked on leading into half-time, the Germans pushed on and Jens Sauerbier (2.0) scored in the dying moments of the quarter to pull Germany within two.
In the third quarter, Germany managed to drag themselves back into contention following a couple of turnovers. Maik Baumann (3.0) regained possession and Thomas Schuwje (1.5) finished the move rolling over the line to equal the score.
The Kiwis used the clock well and managed to time their scoring perfectly to take a slender one-point lead into the final quarter thanks to Dan Buckingham (3.0).
New Zealand held on in the final period, and it was all but over for the German side when Swen Michaelis (3.5) took a tumble on the line resulting in no goal and a turnover of possession allowing New Zealand to take a two-point lead and the eventual win.
USA 63-41 France
The USA were in fine form and managed to end France’s unbeaten run.
The USA stormed to victory against the hosts, edging closer to a place at the 2016 Paralympic Games. The Eagles gained a six-point advantage following the first quarter, a lead that they would only build upon for the duration of the fixture.
Little mistakes from France were with full effect, and the home nation were soon 11 points behind before half-time. It was an efficient performance from USA who were solid in the defence and deadly in the offence.
An 11-point gap was more than worthy of their first half efforts, but they kept up the tempo in the third quarter to go 14 clear with eight minutes remaining.
It was a routine finish in the end with USA cruising to victory with a 22-point lead to really state their intentions of reaching Rio.
Denmark 63-44 Finland
Finland suffered their fourth defeat of the week following a 63-44 loss against Denmark. Having lost twice on the opening day, a heavy defeat to USA at the start of day two preceded the loss to the Danes.
Denmark dominated from the start, gaining a quick three-point advantage after just a few minutes on court. Finland were hot on Denmark’s wheels in the early duals but after only trailing by three after eight minutes, their deficit increased to a nine-point gap going into the break.
Denmark had covered the court well and managed to take advantage of any opportunity to roll over the line. It became harder and harder for Finland to make any strides to shrink the gap as Denmark slowly increased their lead to 13 points at the end of the third quarter.
Denmark racked up an impressive 19-point gap before the final whistle, giving them three wins from a possible four this week.
New Zealand 56-51 France
It was a thrilling end to day two as France narrowly lost out to New Zealand, making it a difficult day for the hosts who failed to win either of their games.
The result comes as a surprise following France’s success on day one but New Zealand, having lost twice on the opening day, had come back fresh to put two wins on the board.
It was a close opening period of play as the two teams tried to match each other on the scoreboard. There were mini battles going on across the court with both number 13s Buckingham (3.0) and Christophe Salegui (3.0) exchanging blows.
New Zealand did force a two-point lead in the first quarter when Buckingham latched on to a loose pass from Adrian Chalmin (0.5). However France battled hard to keep the score level at 13-13 going into the first interval.
The introduction of high-pointer Ryadh Sallem added some ferocity to the France line but his high intensity ended with two stints in the penalty box, allowing New Zealand to run the clock down and go two points clear.
In the third quarter, the Wheel Blacks extended their lead to three points but France showed great resilience to get back to two points behind thanks to a blistering last second score from Sallem, who rolled over in the nick of time.
The Kiwis managed to go four points clear in the final quarter and France left themselves very little time to force any sort of comeback, despite the efforts of Sallem and Jonathan Hivernat (3.0). New Zealand ran down the final moments, ending a successful day for the Southern Hemisphere nation.