US beat Aussies in wheelchair rugby final

Australian Steeler Chris Bond takes on the US defence. Photo: Tim Mannion
Australian Steeler Chris Bond takes on the US defence. Photo: Tim Mannion

The United States are the 2019 World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge champions after the Australian capitulated in the second half of the gold medal match in Tokyo on Sunday.

The Americans humbled the reigning Paralympic champions to record a resounding 59-50 victory after the scores were locked at 27-all at halftime.

Uncharacteristic handling errors, wayward passes and panic from the Steelers saw the Americans score five unanswered goals in the third quarter.

Facing a seven-goal deficit (45-38) at the start of the fourth quarter, any hopes the Steelers had of orchestrating a comeback disappeared rapidly when their first two possessions ended with turnovers that the Americans converted into goals.

Australian coach Brad Dubberley struggled to contain his frustration after the match

"That was extremely disappointing," he said.

"Hopefully this is the wake-up call the team needs to switch on when it matters.

"There were some brain-fade moments, losses of concentration. The US played well but we made them look good.

"I can't remember a worse third quarter. The number of turnovers was ridiculous.

"Hopefully the same result doesn't happen here in Tokyo next year."

Australian captain Ryley Batt said the Steelers will now need to regroup and a find to way to bounce back as they attempt to win their third consecutive Paralympic gold medal next year in Tokyo.

"I spoke to the team straight after the game and the message was 'remember this moment', next year is our priority. That's when it matters for us so remember this feeling, remember this game and make sure we never have to go through this again," Batt said.

"We'll definitely bounce back.

"It was probably the worst rugby I've seen us play in a long time."

Batt scored 32 goals in the final, while Chris Bond (10 goals) and Andrew Edmondson (nine) were the other scorers.

In the bronze medal match, Japan defeated Great Britain 54-49.

Australian Associated Press