27 August 2021
Mixed wheelchair rugby team guarantee first-ever medal with Japan victory
The Great Britain mixed wheelchair rugby team guaranteed themselves a first-ever Paralympic medal as they advanced to the final with a clinical 55-49 victory over Japan.
In a tight first half, the ParalympicsGB team traded blows with the host nation, as Britain entered half-time with a slender two-point lead.
Jim Roberts then turned on the class in the second half to lead his side to a decisive total, guaranteeing GB a medal and giving them a shot at gold on Sunday.
The first quarter followed a pattern with Stuart Robinson the main try scorer for Great Britain before Japan fought back each time, the lead changing hands on several occasions.
We'll be pushing as hard as we can tomorrow in that final.”
But when the hosts were reduced to three players due to penalties, Roberts tactically took his time to score to reduce Japan’s chances of equalising and it paid off as ParalympicsGB led 11-10 at the first break.
With the match on a knife-edge, the lead was stretched to two points – the widest it had been – and it stayed that way until the end of the second quarter as the Brits went into half-time 25-23 ahead, Aaron Phipps scoring fast and freely in contributing 10 tries.
ParalympicsGB then pulled away in the third quarter as Roberts became more involved in the try-scoring, moving the lead to four points as he finished off the steal he had generated from Shinichi Shimikawa.
Japanese captain Yukinobu Ike was then penalised for a flagrant foul on Roberts and with a penalty try and player-advantage Great Britain were able to stretch their lead to eight, then nine, then ten, even able to turn down a scoring opportunity close to the end of the quarter to ensure possession at the restart.
Stuart Robinson helped ParalympicsGB record an impressive win over Japan
With Japan needing several mistakes in order to overturn the deficit, ParalympicsGB remained clinical and continued to fight through the final quarter.
Despite a squad of 12 at his disposal, coach Paul Shaw chose to use only five, Jonathan Coggan and Ryan Cowling guiding Britain home alongside Phipps, Roberts and Robinson, to leave plenty of fresh bodies for tomorrow’s final.
The five players were swamped as the final whistle went as Great Britain made history.
Roberts said: “We’ve got one game left. We didn’t come here for a second we came here to try and do as well as we can.
One more game to go and everything to play for
“Now, gold is as well as we can do, so we’ll be pushing as hard as we can tomorrow in that final.”
Captain Gavin Walker added: “I feel like this team has steadily progressed over the years and I’ve never seen the team so calm and composed. It feels like it’s all coming together at the right time.
“I’m so proud of the guys that have been out there and played the whole game.
“It’s fantastic to be in this position. One more game to go and everything to play for – we’re confident and we’ve played all these teams before and had success so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”
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