Day Two Review
Sweden left their run to the final quarter for the second day in a row to produce a thrilling 54-51 win against Germany at the IWRF Wheelchair Rugby European Championship Division A in Vejle, Denmark on Thursday.
After struggling to victory on the opening day against the Netherlands, Sweden was outplayed early by the Germans, but again their experience in the final stages shone through. Tobias Sandberg stole the ball from the hands of Germany’s Steffen Wecke to give Sweden the lead back and the following inbound was intercepted by Sanberg to hand his side a lead of two. From there Sweden controlled the clock to escape with a narrow victory and book a place in Saturday’s semi-finals.
A relieved Lars Varnerud was glad to see the side work its way into the game after another slow start.
- We got in the game more and more, got more fired up, that’s what we needed, and then they made some mistakes at the end. That’s what we needed. Now we have to play France, and we have absolutely nothing to lose. I think we are underdogs in that game, Varnerud said.
Germany’s Michael Volter reflected on the tough loss, with the game slipping from their grasp late in the peace.
- For 30 (of 32) minutes the team played perfectly, but we have to finish it, he said.
- Sweden has a lot more experience than us, and I think that was the deciding factor. We are a young team, coming up, and we will continue to improve.
Switzerland almost pulled off an upset of their own against Denmark, but it was the hosts who eventually prevailed 50-47. After racing out to a lead of three tries at the first break, Switzerland began to get on top and forced a number of Danish turnovers. Denmark led by one at the final change and executed well in the final stages to also secure a semi-final spot.
- It was a bit closer than we had expected. We were probably more nervous than we care to admit, Denmark’s Kurt Busk said.
- We’ve played Switzerland many times and it is a really tough team. They are good at dictating the terms of the game and taking the pace out of it. We just made too many dumb mistakes, but fortunately we prevailed eventually.
Swiss young gun Jeremy Jenal said it was the team’s best rugby.
- We kept it close until the end and we left our hearts on the field, Jenal said.
- Everybody in the team is so important and when every wheel works together such a big performance is possible. Now we have to make sure we stay in the A division. We just came up last year, so our main goal is to stay up.
Great Britain continued its dominant start to the tournament with a 56-21 triumph against Poland in the opening match of the day. The defending champions got quality minutes into the entire squad and didn’t have a single line-up beaten on court. High-pointer Stuart Robinson led the way with 20 tries, while Jamie Stead was also outstanding at both ends of the court, finishing with 11.
- It was a really good performance. We improved on a few things from yesterday. We kept it tight, were relentless right until the last whistle and just kept pushing the score line, Great Britain captain Chris Ryan said.
- We’ve got loads of different lineups, and because we have so many, we’ve got that fire when each one of those comes on.
Poland’s Leszek Lachmanowicz admitted it was the “speed, strength and experience" of Great Britain that proved the difference.
- I'm proud of the team because we never looked down, and we fought till the end. I love the sport and love playing and I still believe that we can win the games to come, he said.
France also booked its place in the final four with a comprehensive 62-32 result against the Netherlands. The Dutch team competed strongly against Sweden on day one, but were no match for France. A classification change to young French star Sebastian Verdin from 3.0 to 2.5 was a huge factor in the match and provided coach Olivier Cusin with several line-up options.
- The Netherlands are a good team with really good players, but we have an advantage right now, French low-pointer Corentin Le Guen said.
- I think we know each other really well, and we are playing well together. It feels good to be ready for the semi-finals, this was the first objective, but we have to remain focused on Sweden tomorrow.
Netherlands’ Reda Haouam didn’t believe the result reflected the way his side played.
- We knew we were outclassed, but still played strong in the first half, Haoaum said.
- Then after a while we decided to give some of our players who are up for classification some extended time on the court and also give some time to our younger players. It’s time to regroup once more and tomorrow is a big game against Germany. I think we have a good game plan against them.