Canada’s hopes of a gold medal were dashed today with a 54-43 loss against Australia at the 2016 Canada Cup International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament. Due to the tournament’s round-robin format, Canada’s medal hopes now depend on the performance of other teams, and a win against USA tomorrow at 2:30 pm.
“Sometimes it’s hard to say what team is going to show up,” said head coach Kevin Orr. “When we play our style of play, we’re awesome. When we don’t, it’s ugly.”
From the tip-off, both teams struggled to find their rhythm. The first quarter featured multiple fouls and turnovers on both sides, but ended with Australia up 12-11.
In the second quarter, however, the smothering defense of Ryley Batt and Chris Bond stymied the Canadians. Their struggles to inbound the ball and get it over half led to 3 turnovers in a row. At the half, Australia had built a comfortable 26-22 lead.
Canada’s turnover woes continued in the second half. Though their second string came in the boost the mood of the crowd with some hard hits, no lineup combination was able to build momentum. The Canadians finished the game with 16 turnovers.
Orr hopes that this disappointing performance will provide a learning experience for Rio.
“We’ve got some work to do, but that’s why we’re here: so we can do better in Rio.”
Canada will have one last game tomorrow at 2:30 pm against their rivals, the USA. Last summer, Canada qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games by beating the USA at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. A win tomorrow would boost the team’s confidence.
Both sides are looking forward to the grudge match. Though the Americans are 5-0, they aren’t taking Team Canada for granted.
“ Tomorrow is the biggest game of the tournament for us,” said USA’s Josh Wheeler. “They are a great team and they will be a hard opponent for us."
The 2016 Canada Cup International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament concludes tomorrow. Games can be viewed live at the Richmond Olympic Oval or online at viasport.ca.
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