25 August 2021

‘Professional’ ParalympicsGB dominate New Zealand to reach wheelchair rugby knockouts

ParalympicsGB captain Gavin Walker saluted the professionalism of his team as they racked up a comprehensive win over New Zealand to book a spot in the wheelchair rugby semi-finals.

The Brits were in control from the off, as they scored 17 tries in a scintillating first quarter to lead by 12 and extended the advantage to 16 by half time.

New Zealand improved after the break but still fell to a hefty 60-37 defeat that guarantees ParalympicsGB a top-two spot in Group B, with a game against three-time Paralympic champions USA on Friday to decide who finishes top.

“I think it was a professional performance,” said Walker. “It’s something we were conscious of coming into the game – player-wise, we know they’re struggling, so it was important for us to not get seduced by the scoreline.

“We had to just focus on our roles, looking forward to the games ahead and always looking to improve. It was about maintaining that momentum.

“We are conscious that we have some line-ups that are stronger than others, so it was a great opportunity to get everyone on court. It also means we’re able to rest players we’ll need later in the tournament.”

ParalympicsGB will face the USA for top spot in Group B on Friday

Aaron Phipps led the scoring with 15 tries, while no ParalympicsGB player was on court for longer than 18 minutes across the 32-minute contest, and he enjoyed the convincing triumph.

“It was a really good game,” said Phipps. “The USA had put quite a big score on them earlier [63-35], so the pressure was off ever so slightly.

“They fought to the very, very end – they’re fresh and chatting to one of their players after the game, it’s his first Paras and a lot of the team are quite new but they gave us a really good fight.

“We didn’t take our foot off even when we were goals up and that’s important particularly at this level. Take it into tomorrow, one game at a time.”

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