2021 Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup - Week 3

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AJ Lucantonio reviews the third week of games in the Wheelchair tournament.

Australia v Spain

The right to advance to the semi-finals and play France was on the line as Australia and Spain went head to head at the Copper Box.

Australia crossed for the first try inside the opening five minutes when Peter Arbuckle scored off the back of a great set play orchestrated by Diab Karim. The early 6-0 advantage could've easily been more but the Wheelaroos were let down at the final moment with their movements breaking down.

Likewise, at the other end, the Spaniards were made to pay for their inability to complete try-scoring phases. Karim turned from provider to scorer when he raced away to make the score 12-0. Spain were able to build some momentum up the other end of the ground and it was Theo Gonzalez that was able to hit back and cut the lead in half.

Karim had his second in the fifteenth minute after a miraculous offload from Bayley McKenna to cross in the left corner and re-establish Australia's lead of two tries. But, off the back of determined defence and fierce runs in attack. Spain were next to cross when Raphael Monedero went across the stripe to reduce the margin to just six points as the fight to make the semis was well and truly on.

Australia showed their class just before half-time when James Hill got through a space in the defence to score. Three minutes later, it was Hill once more who was able to outsprint the defence to cross for his second and push the margin out to 16 points. It was a hattrick in six for Hill as he did what Arbuckle did off a Karim pass to extend the margin to 22 points at half-time.

Spain started the second half with a flurry as Gonzalez crossed for his second try in the right corner. After a referee conference, the try was ultimately awarded and the margin was reduced to 18. But as was evident in the first half, Australia answered back immediately when Hill crossed for number four when he won the race to a clever early kick.

The Spaniards weren't going away quietly as Joel Lacombe crossed to reduce the gap back to 18 points and we're taking the game right up to Australia. Their comeback was in full swing when Yannick Martin crossed three minutes later when the Wheelaroos edge defence was non-existent. Karim knocked over a penalty goal to try and halt the momentum, and it worked perfectly when Cory Cannane crossed for his first Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup try.

Australia secured their place when Brett Grove took a lovely pass and was able to secure his way to the line and a ticket to play France in the semi-finals. Spain were able to grab a much deserved consolation try in the game's dying moments when Mondero crossed for his second to reduce the score-line to 48-32. The Wheelaroos added two penalty goals to cement their 20 point victory.

England v Ireland

England have entered the semi final stages of the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup in convincing fashion with a 121-0 victory over Ireland at the Copper Box.

It was a fierce display of attacking rugby league from the hosts in their final group match scoring 21 tries to nil. The attacking masterclass began in the second minute when Sebastien Bechara crossed the stripe. Three minutes later, star Joe Coyd was able to go across the line and it was ominous for the Irish early. Off the next set, Tom Halliwell added salt into the wound going across the stripe.

The scoring rampage continued throughout the first half when Bechara, Simpson and Coyd crossed for their doubles midway through the first half. Halliwell added his second try when he touched down in the right corner. Coyd completed his hattrick in the first half running onto a well-timed pass. Further tries to Jack Brown (who nabbed a double) and Nathan Collins gave England a 66-0 half-time lead.

The second half remained one way traffic for England, but Ireland refused to give up. They tried valiantly but were unable to keep up with the class and dominance of the English side as they crossed for nine second tries. The scoring began three minutes into the second half when Brown completed his hattrick. By the hour mark, Collins completed his hattrick in fine style.

In the final twenty, England were running riot with tries to Lewis King and a lovely worked double for Adam Rigby. The class difference was on full display and it's clear that England will be a class above the rest in the semi-finals. James Simpson crossed for two tries to add to his double from the first half before Coyd crossed to make the score-line 121-0.

France v USA

France have gone through the group stage undefeated with a resounding 110 point victory over the United States of America in Sheffield.

Although France's position in next week's semi-finals was wrapped up. The United States had a slight chance of advancing with a win as Wales' for and against took a significant hit in their group match against France.

France crossed for their first try inside the first minute of play when Lionel Alazard got a miraculous pass to Jeremy Bourson to give the two time world champions an early 6-0 lead. Five minutes later, Bourson crossed for his second when he fooled the American defence to cross. It was a hattrick inside eight minutes for Bourson when he capitalised on an USA error to make the score 18-0.

It was turning into a nightmare for the Americans when Jonathan Hivernat strolled his way over and it was 24-0 inside 11 minutes of play. Off the ensuing set, it was all-over red-rover when Mostefa Abassi strolled through some would-be tacklers to bring up the 30 point mark. Bourson had his fourth when he regathered a clever kick over the top to extend the margin once more.

Abassi crossed for his second try to put the French side up by 40 inside the first twenty minutes of play. Hivernat added a second and eventual third try to the scoreboard just past the twenty minute mark which saw France bring up the half-century. The USA showed some rare defensive resilience in the first half as they were able to have some possession down the French end of the ground, but it kept going wrong at the final moment.

France did cross just past the half-hour mark when Thomas Duhalde extended the margin to 58-0. Bourson crossed for his fifth of the first half just before half-time to push the points beyond 60 and have a commanding 64-0 lead at the break.

Straight after the break, France continued their dominating ways crossing within the first minute of play when Gilles Clausells crossed to extend the margin. Shortly after, Clausells crossed in the left corner for his second, third and fourth tries of the contest to bring up the 70 point mark. Guillaume Mautz crossed to put the score-line beyond 80 points. Nicolas Clausells put the score-line beyond 90 points.

Further second-half tries to Duhalde, Abassi and Lionel Alazard brought the score-line into the 100's and it appeared to be one-way chaos. But full credit to the Americans, they hung in the contest and when Mackenzie Johnson crossed for the USA's only try of the contest and reduce the gap to 100 points. A further two tries to Abassi sealed a dominant victory for the French side by 116-6. 

Wales v Scotland

Wales will advance to the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup semi-finals after a comprehensive 70-32 victory over Scotland in Sheffield today.

It was a simple equation for Wales after their USA compatriots lost by 110 points in the match preceding this one. Wales made their intentions known from the outset with a try inside the first minute of play when Scott Trigg-Turner crossed for the first of his three tries. Three minutes later, they were at it again when Gary Preece found his way to the line.

Not be out-done, Scotland hit back through their big name try-scorer Dan Grant in the seventh minute. Before Wales grabbed two quick tries in succession when Trigg-Turner and Andrew Higgins crossed to put the margin out to 18 points. Scotland saw what Wales was able to do and thought that they could do better, crossing for two quick-fire tries through John Willans and Mike Mellon.

But not to be outdone, two tries in two minutes from the Welsh side (Martin Lane and Harry Jones) with it all to play for set them up nicely going into the break. Although, Scotland gave them a fright when Grant crossed for his second to go to the break only down 36-20.

Wales began the second half just as they began the first. In a fast and furious manner, the Welsh crossed for three quick fire tries in the first six minutes of the second half which saw Jones finish his double and Andrew Higgins complete one. Trigg-Turner completed his hattrick twenty-eight minutes from full-time with minimal defensive resilience.

Scotland were able to get three consolation tries in the last twenty but the game was already out of reach when Melon completed his double. While Grant continued his try-scoring form in this tournament adding a further double to his earlier double in the first half. But it was Wales' day and they have it all to play for in their second semi final clash with England coming up this week.