SYDNEY – Japan upset the reigning champions Australian Steelers 62-61 to win gold at the GIO IWRF Wheelchair Rugby World Championship at the Sydney Olympic Park on Friday.
The Australians were up ahead by a point (15-14) against Japan during the first period of the game.
By half time Japan was ahead by 4 points, while by the third period it had pulled ahead by 1 point to race to a thrilling finish.
“Not quite the result we were hoping for, but the Australian Steelers have done us so proud. Congratulations on your silver boys, enjoy it,” the Australian Paralympic team tweeted after the closely-fought match.
The Steelers had gone undefeated through the Preliminary and Crossover rounds, beating Great Britain 59-57 on Thursday in the semifinal.
On the same day, Japan had defeated the United States, world No.2 and four-time champions, to make it to the finals of the championship against the Steelers.
“They (Japan) are going to come out with everything on the line and so will we,” Australia’s Chris Bond had said in a statement before the final game.
“We really want this win. We try to lift at major events and this is a major event,” Japan’s Masayuki Haga had said.
“This is the first time for us in the final of a major tournament. I’m really excited,” he had added.
The US had earlier defeated Great Britain 47-36 to win the bronze at the tournament.