Day 5 Wrap-up: Hosts make history as the quarterfinals live up to the hype
The debut of the quarterfinals at the Wheelchair Rugby World Championship brought drama, excitement, and plenty of tension as the world’s top eight teams fought for a spot in the medal round. Once the dust cleared, and the burnt rubber was peeled off the floor, Japan, Australia, USA, and hosts Denmark had earned a place in the final four.
Japan 58 New Zealand 38
The day's first match was also its most lopsided as the defending champions from Japan, powered by the Wheel Blacks. Every Japanese player saw the court as Coach Kevin Orr juggled line-ups in a clinical performance.
Japanese captain Yukinobu Ike is now looking ahead to the semifinals and stressed the need for his team to keep their focus.
“ I think the next match will be the most important one for us. We’ve all of our matches so far, but we need to be really focused for our next game”
Japan will face the United States in tomorrow’s semifinal in a rematch from the 2018 World Championship.
United States 53 Canada 51
The latest chapter in the USA-Canada rivalry saw the Americans claw their way back and come out on top.
Canada started strong with great pressure and led by three after the first quarter, but the United States would methodically work their way back into the game. The Eagles strong key defence was a major reason why as they dropped back often to shrink the court and help prevent Canadian star Zak Madell from scoring too often in the open court.
American 1.5 Josh O’Neil was named Player of The Match as he consistently ways to get open deep to score tries off of passes from Chuck Aoki and Josh Wheeler. Fellow low-pointer Lee Fredette was an x-factor on defense and earned praise from his team captain.
“Lee Fredette,” said Aoki when asked about the key to their key.
“He’s one of the best if not the best class 1.0 in the world, his key defense is nasty, he guards 3.5s like it’s no problem, so I really give all the credit in the world to him.
Denmark 55 France 53
It took an extra three minutes, but the hosts Denmark pulled off the quarterfinal upset and will play for a medal at home after defeating previously undefeated France.
It was a passionate and tense match from beginning to end as the two European rivals traded tries and leads throughout the match.
Sebastian Frederiken continued his incredible run of form in Vejle, as he’s taken his game to new heights at this year’s championship. He was overcome with joy post-match after leading Denmark to their first-ever semifinal appearance at Worlds.
“Amazing, it’s mind blowing. It’s a dream come true. I looked forward to this for so many years, not just me, but the entire team.You fight for this since, I don’t know how long. But it feels unreal right now just like it’s a dream.”
Frederiksen praised the incredible support from the crowd for the extra energy they gave Danes in the pivotal overtime period to push over the line and into the finals against a talented French team.
“Family, friends, lots of Danish people, so it was a blessing to just play today. It pushed me a lot. Again, I can have a party with them, it tries to have a party with me, I try to take it.”
The Danes move on to face Australia on Saturday.
Australia 54 Great Britain 45
Australia continued their quest for a 2nd World title dispatching Great Britain in the final quarterfinal of the day. The Steelers got out to an early lead and never relinquished it in an efficient outing.
Australia rotated their lines throughout the match, maintaining a consistent intensity through all four quarters.
They move on to face Denmark for a 2nd time after their 61-49 victory earlier this week.
Germany defeated Brazil 53-49 and will face Colombia for 9th place after the Colombians beat Switzerland 49-44.