Australia beat the USA at a sold-out DGI Huset Vejle to claim the Wheelchair Rugby World Championship 2022 title.
The USA had won three of the teams’ previous four meetings, but Australia had prevailed at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and did so again in Vejle, winning 58-55 to lift the Wheelchair Rugby World Championship trophy for a second time.
Australia had finished second in Group B below Japan, before beating Great Britain and hosts Denmark to set up a final showdown with the Eagles.
Ryley Batt was the star for the Steelers, scoring 41 tries and providing eight assists.
Batt formed a formidable partnership with captain Chris Bond and came up with a pivotal interception in the third quarter that gave Australia a two-point lead they would not relinquish.
“A lot of people wrote us off but being able to play against America in the final, they played amazing,” Batt said.
“I’m just really, really happy that we sat on top of that podium and we’re world champs again. Let’s enjoy this moment.”
The capacity home crowd were denied a triumphant end to the week as Japan won the bronze final 61-57 against Denmark.
Japan had edged a thrilling group stage encounter between the sides, winning 61-60 in overtime on Tuesday and raced into a four-try lead by half-time on Sunday.
Denmark had been beaten by Australia by a solitary point in the semi-finals, but were unable to get that close to Japan.
“We were able to deliver everything we have as a team,” Japan captain Yukinobu Ike said.
“Our last match against Denmark was very tough, but I think we were able to improve our performance. We played good rugby.”
Denmark captain Leon Joergensen said: “We didn’t start today as well as we hoped to, and we weren’t able to score in every attacking opportunity, which was something we were good at throughout this tournament.
“We have done great here (at the worlds) and improved our game throughout. We have proven that we can participate at this level, so we have plenty to work on.”
More than 10,000 fans attended the tournament across the week, with the venue sold out for each of the weekend sessions.
“When I arrived it was clear that the city of Vejle was ready to receive wheelchair rugby and what a week it has been,” World Wheelchair Rugby president, Richard Allcroft said.
“The reason why we were there was for the athletes, and everything was arranged around them, to make sure their experience was world-class.
“The pinnacle of this was the field of play and seeing the way that Athletes were presented onto the court set the scene for what has been some of the best competition to date.
“It is well known within events that it is the volunteers who make everything special. I can’t thank them enough for making our time here so unique and for helping us create lasting memories of what I must declare as the best World Championship to date.
“The final congratulations go to our new World Champion, Australia, our silver medallist USA, and bronze medallist Japan.”
Story Courtesy/World Rugby