At the end of another tightly contested second day, the future of the International Cup became clearer, revealing some trends for the rest of the tournament.
To open the second day, France took on New Zealand. After losing to the United States yesterday, Les Bleus were keen to show their determination and needed to win to stay alive in the competition. The early stages of the match were evenly balanced, but France quickly raised their game. A fighting spirit and faultless play enabled them to establish a substantial five-try lead by half-time.
Faced with this pressure, New Zealand adjusted their game at the start of the second half. The Tricolores, spurred on by their captain Jonathan Hivernat who galvanised the fans, not only maintained but accentuated their domination of the field. Their superiority was rewarded with a resounding and well-deserved 46-37 victory, confirming their position as a formidable force in the tournament.
This was followed by the Group B clash between the United States and Japan, both victorious and playing for qualification. During the first half, neither team managed to assert a clear superiority. The USA held a slender one-try lead at the break. Refusing to give ground to the Americans, Japan took a slight lead, outscoring Team USA by a decisive try. Galvanised by some excellent defensive phases and a powerful Ikezaki/Shimakawa pairing, they capitalised on the counter-attacks. All to the cheers of a fervent and loyal Nippon crowd. The match ended in a deserved win for Japan, 55-50.
With two impressive victories under their belts, Japan have established themselves not only as credible title contenders, but also as a formidable opponent for France tomorrow.
The Canada-Denmark duel quickly turned into an exciting tug-of-war. Point after point, the teams went blow for blow, orchestrating ingenious systems on the pitch. Buoyed by their triumphant momentum on the first day, Canada managed to get the better of the Danes with a two-point lead at the break. After the restart, the battle intensified between the two teams, but it was the unwavering solidarity and experience of key players such as Madell that won the day. The Canadians marked their territory and won 50-46.
Australia rise to dominate Great Britain in a thrilling match
The face-off between Australia, crowned champions of the last World Championships, and Great Britain, Paralympic gold medallists, immediately set the stage alight. The pressure was heavy on the Australians’ shoulders, following the disappointing defeat of the previous day. The echoes of the resounding collisions between the chairs testified to the commitment on both sides. Both teams returned to the locker room with the score level. However, on the restart, the Steelers capitalised on the mistakes of their British counterparts, extending their lead on opposing possessions and building a precious lead. Although they were constantly under threat from a British team that stubbornly refused to relent. Australia, galvanised by the thought of potential elimination from the competition, managed to win 50-48, putting them back in the tournament.
Tomorrow promises to be another exciting day, and we’ll know the semi-final line-ups for the tournament!