With the final two Paralympic places on the line, the IWRF last chance qualifier got under way on Monday, building to the vital day on Thursday in Paris. As expected, the United States has dominated the tournament, winning all six of the matches they have played while the fight for the second place continues to be tight.
The hosts, France, got the tournament off to a perfect start for them as they managed a big 64-33 win over Finland. It was always going to be a big ask for Finland, the lowest of the sides in the tournament and they were well and truly outplayed by France.
That result still had France in the lead after the second game as the United States did well to power past German with a 64-43 win. The final match of the morning session was the most hard-fought of the tournament in that session as Denmark just held on, to get a win over New Zealand 54-52.
The evening session went largely as expected, with Germany winning their first game of the tournament to kick things off with a 54-43 win. France continued their stunning day as they held off a late charge from Denmark, as they won 59-52.
The final match of the first day saw New Zealand forced to take on a rampant USA side, and the Americans cruised again. The Wheelblacks were stronger defensively than Germany but their offense was weaker, falling 54-34, to keep USA and France top at the end of day one.
Day two opened with a big game when Germany took on Denmark, both sides coming in to the game with one win. A win here would prove vital in qualifying for the semi-finals and it was Denmark who got the win, overpowering the Germans in the end with a 59-52 win.
The Americans continued their domination of the tournament in the second game of the day as they easily defeated Finland 60-32. Needing a win, New Zealand came out for the final game of the morning session and put in their strongest performance in years as they got past Germany with a 51-46 win to keep their hopes alive.
France lost their first match of the tournament as they fell to the rampant Americans to open the second evening session. The United States won the game 63-41, sealing their place in the semi-finals, one step away from qualification to Rio.
Denmark continued their strong performance as they cruised past Finland with a 63-44 win, well and truly ending Finland’s chances. The final game was one of the most anticipated of the tournament as France took on New Zealand, a bit of a grudge match after New Zealand felt France took a spot they deserved for the 2012 Paralympics. In the end it was New Zealand who won, pushing away for a 56-51 win to close the day and put themselves in with a good chance of going straight to the semi-finals.
The final day set up as a vital day for teams’ semi-final hopes, with the first game seeing the United States force Denmark in to the quarter-finals with a 50-45 win over Denmark. France kept the pressure up on New Zealand as they managed a big 63-45 win over Germany to seal at least third in the standings.
That meant New Zealand had to manage a win to get through to the semi-finals and play one fewer game and they did it, winning 57-47 over Finland. That set up the quarter-finals, which closed out the third day with Germany playing Denmark and Finland taking on France.
Both quarter-finals were heavily one-sided, the first seeing Denmark advance to take on the United States after a 55-47 win. That left the New Zealand semi-final available and France dominated Finland, cruising to a 53-45 win to advance.