Canada to battle France for 5th place at wheelchair rugby worlds after beating New Zealand | CBC Sports

Canada will play for a fifth-place finish at the wheelchair rugby world championship following a dominant second-half performance in Saturday’s win over New Zealand.

The men’s squad led 26-25 at halftime but pulled away over the final 16 minutes, scoring 17 points in each of the third and fourth quarters for a 60-49 victory in Vejle, Denmark.

“Our line was focused on stopping the players with the ball and forcing them to pass,” said Quebec City’s Fabien Lavoie, who scored four of his five points in the third quarter and was awarded performance of the day honours. “We transitioned quickly to defence to retrieve those passes.”

Canada, ranked sixth in the world, will face No. 5 France on Sunday at 5:30 a.m. ET. Coverage via expanded highlight show will be available at 9 a.m. on, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

On Aug. 28, 2021, Canada upended France 57-49 in its final match at the Tokyo Paralympics to place fifth. At the 2018 world championship, France prevailed 52-51 in a fifth-place contest between the teams after a 51-42 win over the Canadians in the tourney opener in Sydney, Australia.

In Denmark, the Frenchmen downed the reigning Paralympic champions from Great Britain 51-48 on Saturday, a day after the host Danes beat them in Friday’s quarter-finals.

‘Big challenge’

The Canadians, who haven’t won a world title since 2002, were relegated to the seeding bracket following Friday’s 53-51 loss to the United States. They entered the tournament brimming with confidence following its win over the Brits in the Quad Nations final last month in Wales, United Kingdom.

Against New Zealand, Zak Madell of Okotoks, Alta., paced Canada’s attack with 29 points while Anthony Létourneau of Boisbriand, Que., added seven. Mike Whitehead of Windsor, Ont., and Toronto’s Travis Murao chipped in five points apiece.

”The New Zealanders gave us a big challenge,” said Lavoie, a five-time Paralympian. ”When my line hit the floor, I felt we needed to cause some turnovers. We were worried it was a little too close and we could lose it at the end.”

In the medal round, Denmark faces Australia in one semifinal later Saturday while defending champions and world No. 1 Japan meet the U.S.

Canada’s roster

  • Zak Madell — Okotoks, Alta.
  • Fabien Lavoie — Quebec City
  • Mike Whitehead — Windsor, Ont.
  • Matt Debly — Windsor, Ont.
  • Shayne Smith — Toronto
  • Cody Caldwell — Peterborough, Ont.
  • Anthony Létourneau — Boisbriand, Que.
  • Travis Murao — Toronto
  • Patrice Dagenais — Embrun, Ont.
  • Trevor Hirschfield — Parksville, B.C.
  • Eric Rodrigues — Mississauga, Ont.
  • Byron Green — Vancouver

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