Spread the love

The Australian Steelers will finalise their Paris 2024 preparations by playing for a gold medal at the 2024 Canada Cup on Monday.

The Steelers concluded the round-robin competition on Sunday with an outstanding 54-46 victory over the United States to ensure their passage to the medal rounds.

The Steelers then endured a nervous wait in the last round-robin match between Japan and France. A Japanese victory was the result they were seeking to send them through the gold medal match and Japan obliged, defeating France 47-45.

The two arch-rivals from the Asia Oceania Region now face each other in the final, with European heavyweights France and Great Britain set to play for bronze.

The Steelers need to find a response if they are to the lift the coveted cup. Japan remain undefeated at the tournament and delivered a 55-47 thrashing on Saturday in a forgettable performance that saw the Steelers concede 11 turnovers to two.

But if the signs from the Steelers in their triumph over the Americans on Sunday are any indication, the final is set to be a blockbuster.

Despite the world number one ranking, the Americans just could not break down the Australian offence in the first half. The Australians took a 29-22 lead into half-time by forcing seven turnovers and dropping just one of their own.

After the disappointment of Saturday’s effort against Japan, Australian coach Brad Dubberley praised the mentality of his team to bounce back and dominate one of the world’s best teams 24 hours later.

“That was a great result. The way we came out and the pressure we applied early enabled us to get the jump on them. That’s exactly what we wanted to do.” Dubberley said.

“That gave us the opportunity to give most of the team some good minutes, which was awesome.”

“We’ve been leaking too many turnovers in offence throughout this whole tournament really. So to keep it clean with just one turnover in the whole first half was excellent. That was a big step in the right direction as we look towards Paris.”

With the United States set to play in the decider for fifth and sixth on Monday, the Steelers now have the opportunity to move into the world number one ranking with victory in Monday’s final.

Ranked second, the 2024 Canada Cup gold medal will provide enough ranking points to move the Australians into top spot, right where they want to be with less than 80 days to go from the Paralympic Games.

Featuring the world’s top six teams at Richmond Oval in Vancouver, the Canada Cup is considered the most prestigious international wheelchair rugby tournament outside a Paralympic Games or world championship.

Australia and Japan will play for gold at 9am on Monday (AEST), after the bronze medal match between France and Great Britain at 7am.

Australian Steelers – Upcoming Fixtures (times in AEST)

Mon 10 June
3am – 5th vs 6th
Canada  vs United States

6am – Bronze Medal Match
France vs Great Britain

9am – Gold Medal Match
Australia  vs Japan

By Tim Mannion, Paralympics Australia.

Published 9 June, 2024.

Image Credit: Kevin Bogetti Smith / BC Wheelchair Sports