The first day of the Canada Cup featured plenty of exciting tries, big hits and an upset in overtime. Here’s our recap of Day 1.
Game #1 Canada v Sweden
The hosts started their 2018 Canada Cup campaign with a come-from behind win over Sweden in front of an energetic crowd at the Richmond Olympic Oval.
The first quarter was very close as both teams traded tries and went into the first intermission tied at 12.
Momentum would shift back and forth in the 2nd quarter as the Canadians capitalized on a couple Swedish turnovers to build a 2 try lead only to make several errors of their own allowing Sweden to eliminate the deficit and take the lead on a final try going into the second half.
"I think we grinded them down from the beginning and made them use up their time-outs early in the first half. That allowed us to push the give-and-go on offence and be predators on defense." said assistant coach David Willsie.
The Canadians began the second half with much more physicality and upped the pressure on Sweden. They used a 4-0 run to take a 34-31 lead with just over three minutes left in the third.
Once they had the lead, Canada never gave it up again and continued to press throughout the second half ending in a 53-45 win.
All six Canadians that saw the court scored at least a try in what was a strong performance from Canada’s veteran players.
“My performance was a team performance, in terms of the guys keeping me on point. They consistently let me know where I needed to be and when." said #8 Mike Whitehead. "Overall, I think we did a good job weathering the little storms that came and then sticking to the game plan."
Canada play Denmark next on Friday, June 15 at 09:30 PT // 12:30 ET.
Game #2 Australia v Japan
In the most exciting match of the day, 4th ranked Japan upset #1 ranked Australia in 67-66 in overtime.
Australia raced out to an early lead in the match and led by as much as three in the first frame, but Japan continued to battle back and only trailed 18-17 at the end of a high-scoring and fast-paced first quarter.
Japan answered back in the second quarter to leave the teams even at 33 at halftime, the third quarter would see a similar deadlock with each team managing 14 tries to enter the final frame of regulation tied at 49.
In the fourth quarter, neither side gave an inch and continued to trade tries. With less than 50 seconds left on the clock, Ryley Batt made a gorgeous behind-the-back to Chris Bond to take the lead at 62-61. Japan tried to run the clock down to force the tie on last goal.
Michael Ozanne went out of bounds with 4 seconds left as Ikezaki was trying to stall for Japan. This gave Japan a 4-on 3 advantage, but forced them into a challenging corner inbound. Japan used their final floor time-out to set up a play as the Oval crowd looked on. Yukinobu Ike found Seiya Norimatsu on a low-to-high-low give and go to force overtime.
In the 3 minute overtime, Yukinobu Ike used his height advantage to win the tip. Ikezaki scored the first try of overtime to take a 63-62 lead and thefollowing seven tries with Japan taking a 67-66 lead and Australia having a chance to score the final try and force a second overtime.
Ryley Batt used a timeout with 19.9 seconds on the clock to reset the 40-second clock at 15 seconds. Chris Bond was unable to cross the try-line before the 15 seconds were up, giving Japan the ball back up 1 with only seconds left.
Australia attempted to deny the inbound, but Ike’s height proved to be too much as Japan beat Australia for the first time at the Canada Cup.
After the game, head coach Kevin Orr says his team’s patience made the difference down the stretch.
“We had to work hard in transition, when we work hard between the whistles it gives us an advantage,” he said, “I told our players to be patient and the the second half of the game will come to us.”
Daisuke Ikezaki led all scorers with 44 tries.
Game #3 - United States v Denmark
The United States stretched their Canada Cup winning streak to seven games with a 55-39 win over Denmark.
The two teams played a tight first quarter with the Americans managed to capitalize on a couple mistakes to take a 12-10 going into the second.
The Americans to pressure Denmark in the second quarter and forced a handful of turnovers to lead 28-22 at halftime
Both teams ran a number of different line-ups in the second half and all of their athletes saw the court by the end of the match which saw USA win 55-39.
All games are archived on www.sportscanada.tv/wheelchairrugby