Day Three Review
France and Great Britain continued their unbeaten starts to the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship in Vejle, Denmark on Friday and are just two wins away from the title.
The nations topped their respective pools and will avoid each other in Saturday’s semi-finals. France will meet host nation Denmark in the first semi-final, before Great Britain clash with Sweden to decide who will reach the gold medal match and take the top place up for grabs for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Great Britain secured first position with an impressive 63-45 result against the Danes. Denmark won the tip and were within reach after the first quarter, but eventually the class prevailed for Great Britain.
Low-pointer Kylie Grimes said it was one of the best performances of the tournament for the defending champions.
- We’ve come here to be strong and we knew that Denmark were a good opponent, they are definitely a tough team to play against, and they’ve got some good, hard hitters out there, Grimes said.
- We knew we had to go out hard and we just wanted a good start, get the ball rolling and then play our game and stick to our game plans.
A huge Danish crowd made its way to DGI Huset to cheer on the home side and it didn’t go unnoticed by Great Britain.
- The crowd always helps, when there’s a bit of extra excitement there it makes the game more fun, it is quite hard to hear sometimes so you really have to focus and look at the guys on and make sure you understand what’s going on, she said.
- When it’s quiet you can hear and you know what to do, but we are getting used to those sorts of scenarios and training for it, if we just stick to our game plan, look at what we’re doing and then we are good. We are hopefully going to go out and win tomorrow and we shall stick to our game plan and keep doing exactly what we’re doing, go out hard against Sweden.
Denmark’s Morten Elmholt also drew inspiration from the crowd.
- The atmosphere is just amazing and it really helps you find that extra gear and push through, he said.
- They (Great Britain) showed why they are the defending champions. I would have liked to keep up with them a bit longer, but fingers crossed we’ll have a chance to do that on Sunday. Tomorrow will be a really tough match against France. We’ve been fifty-fifty playing them for the last couple of years, but they’ve been in excellent form lately.
France has proven they’re one of the teams to beat in Vejle after dismantling Sweden 56-38 to win Pool A. Just two tries separated the two side at half-time, before France blew away an exhausted Sweden who had used its starting lineup for almost two-and-a-half matches without a substitution. A well-executed set play in the dying stages of the second quarter by France swung the momentum in their favour.
- There were seven seconds left (in the second quarter) and I chose to try and get the try and Rodolphe (Jarlan) was well placed and I made the pass, France’s Christophe Salegui said.
It was a key element of the game, because it put France in front.
- We played very well in the first half, because they took their four timeouts in the first half. We knew we were in a good position, in the second half we knew we needed to be patient and keep pushing. It’s very exciting and we can’t wait to play against Denmark.
Sweden’s Conrad Hildebrand was quick to shift his focus to the semi-final against Great Britain.
- We had played two very close games before this and we were exhausted today. But in the end it is tomorrow that matters, he said.
- We have a good chance if we play our game, stay focused, control the game and avoid making unnecessary mistakes.
Germany took third place in Pool A, producing the highest score of the tournament so far with a 70-45 triumph over the Netherlands. After two close calls against Sweden and France, German captain Marco Herbst was pleased with the performance.
- We did well today and the whole team played, I think it was a good game. We had a lot of turnovers and our tactics went well, Marco Herbst said.
- After the last two games, it was little bit difficult to refresh your mind and concentrate on this one, but I think we did well and we look forward to the next one.
Netherlands captain Reda Haouam said his side struggled to execute the game plan.
- We had silly turnovers in the beginning and that put us on a disadvantage and from there you kind of have to fight your way back and it proved a little too much, Haouam said.
Poland also tasted victory for the first time this week with a clinical 45-35 victory against Switzerland in the opening match of the day. Switzerland pushed Denmark until the very end on day two, but were able to maintain the same intensity.
- It is not the outcome expected from today, but our primary goal is still to stay in Division A, and we are still in the race, Swiss player-coach Adrian Moser said.
- Our team learns to deal with the pressure and the speed with each game.
The final pool standings after day three are:
France 6 (+55)
Germany 2 (+15)
Netherlands 0 (-61)
Great Britain 6 (+84)
Denmark 4 (+1)
Poland 2 (-41)
Switzerland 0 (-34)