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Semi-Finalists confirmed in tight day at world championships

Fans get excited in the tight match
Fans get excited in the tight match
courtesy 2014 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship Committee

After a day of blowouts in day three the fourth day was much closer at the Wheelchair Rugby World Championships with close results, and even a game heading in to overtime.

Sweden and New Zealand got the day started, in an effort to stay somewhat in touch with the pool leaders and keep their slim hopes of a semi-final berth alive and that need lead to a tight match, with both sides trading points, and turnovers, for a 15-15 score at the first break.

The second quarter saw Sweden just start to break away from New Zealand but the Wheelblacks kept the European Champions fairly in check, the lead only getting out to two, 28-26 at the half with both sides still in with a chance.

That flipped again in the third as New Zealand fought well and grabbed the lead midway through the third, getting to 33-32 but the nature of the game continued and Sweden fought back to lead 40-38 with the final eight minutes to play.

With the momentum Sweden pushed out in the final quarter, and secured their first win of the tournament 55-49, ending New Zealand’s slim semi-finals hopes.

In a game that had been highlighted as being a potential tournament changer Canada did battle with Great Britain and produced the game of the tournament so far, in an entertaining, back-and-forth encounter.

Both sides started well but it was Canada who held the lead at the end of the first, by the slimmest of margins, 12-11 after the first eight minutes.

Canada started the second half well and extended their lead, only for the Brits to come back, and level proceedings at 24 as the sides headed to the half-time break in a tense one.

The momentum didn’t help Great Britain break free in the third as the teams just remained deadlocked, until GB pushed a goal ahead late in the quarter for a 37-36 lead with one quarter to play.

Britain did manage to hold their lead through much of the fourth, but Canada had a timeout in hand, and used it, getting out of trouble, and leveling the scores with three minutes to play setting up a tense finish.

With Britain 49-48 up, Canada received possession thanks to a penalty, with a shorthanded British side, Canada pushed forward and got the ball over the line in time, forcing overtime, for the first time in the tournament.

Canada forced a turnover early in the three minutes of overtime, and got the lead out to two, but right at the death Britain fought back, pushing an equalizing goal over the line on the buzzer to send it to a second period of overtime.

Britain lead early in the second period of overtime, but Canada showed their strength and forced a turnover in the final minute, pushing out for a 59-58 win after two periods of overtime.

That game would have made Canada’s opponents on Friday, Australia, very happy as their game against Finland got started as regulation was finishing on court two and as expected Australia dominated proceedings.

Australia exploded against Finland, shooting out to a 13 goal lead, which only got bigger, ending with a 20 point, 63-43 win as Australia sent a message to Canada and sealed their Semi-Final place.

Japan looked to stamp their semi-final place against France, and did so with aplomb, heading out to a 26-19 lead at half-time, catching out France well.

That continued through to the second half, France may have closed the gap but it was much too big as Japan managed a simple enough 56-44 win and advanced to the semi-finals.

The United States, with a semi-final place wrapped up, tore Germany apart in their match, pushing out to an early 12 point lead, which just kept ballooning eventually ending 62-28, humbling the Germans.

After their grueling match against Canada, Great Britain had to come out and do well, getting an early 3 goal lead, only for Denmark to fight back and level scores only for Britain to force a turnover and get a 12-11 lead at the first break.

That trend continued in the second half as the lead went back and forth between the two sides, with Denmark spurred on by a raucous home support they pushed the lead out to two with three minutes to play in the half before pushing out to three against a tired GB side.

Britain fought back in the third quarter and pushed the gab down to just one in the opening two minutes, which remained the gap at the end of the third.

The GB side were clearly still recovering from their earlier exertions but played the game smartly, stopping the speed of the Danes and retaking the lead in the final quarter, which they managed to extend with four turnovers in the latter stages of the half to seal the win and keep the pressure on Canada.

Canada had no such troubles in their second match of the day as the easily built out an 11 point lead in the first half before ballooning out to _ which sealed Canada’s semi-final berth, the matches on Friday will determine which nation receives which seed.