Rio 2016 Wheelchair Rugby Preview - Day Three
By Beau Greenway for IWRF and IPC
The Rio 2016 wheelchair rugby semi-finalists were determined on Thursday (15 September), but the world’s top four nations stirll have to fight for top spot in the pools during Friday’s (16 September) final preliminary matches at Carioca Arena 1.
Australia will meet Canada to decide the winner of Pool A, while USA’s clash with Japan is of equal importance in Pool B.
However, day three action gets under way at 10.30am with France and Sweden, who are both itching to record their first win of the tournament.
The two teams have fallen to the USA and Japan on the opening two days and produced similar efforts in terms of the score-line, so there should not be much separating them.
While Paralympic medals may not be in the picture, the No. 2 ranking in Europe is up for grabs for the winner.
Brazil and Great Britain are next on court at 12.45pm and are also both in search of their first win of the tournament.
The Brits have suffered two heartbreaking loses so far, with a two-goal defeat against Australia compounded by an overtime loss against the Canadians.
Brazil showed good signs against both of the London 2012 finalists, but it is Great Britain who will start favourites.
The defining matches start from 4pm, with the USA and Japan tussling for Pool B supremacy.
USA has been more convincing in its first two outings. They have won without using their main starting line-up for long periods of time, which should leave them in better shape for Friday’s clash.
However, the Japanese line-up is very flexible and consistent across every position, so they cannot be underestimated.
Daisuke Ikezaki and Yukinobu Ike have both put together excellent tournaments so far and will need to continue that if Japan is to stand a chance.
Lastly, the rematch between London 2012 finalists Australia and Canada will be hotly-contested to close out day three.
Australia has had the better of the Canadians in all of their last major outings, including the 2014 World Championships, but previous form will count for little when they meet to decide the Pool A champion.
The highly-anticipated match-up between arguably the world’s best players, Australia’s Ryley Batt and Canada’s Zak Madell, will likely be a centrepiece of the match, but the depth of both squads will certainly be tested.