26 August 2021
Japan await in wheelchair rugby semi-finals after GB slip to USA defeat
Jim Roberts promised ParalympicsGB will bounce back from a ‘disappointing’ defeat to the USA when they contest their wheelchair rugby semi-final against hosts Japan.
Great Britain had already qualified for the knockout stages ahead of their final pool game against the United States at Yoyoki National Stadium on Friday, with just top spot in Group B up for grabs.
It appeared the Brits were in line for it when they led by five tries at various points in the first half, only for USA to narrow the deficit to two by half-time and then kick on in quarters three and four with some intricate combinations to snatch a 50-48 victory in an enthralling encounter.
It means Group A winners Japan, with their 100 per cent record, await GB in the semi-finals on Saturday, while the United States face Australia.
We’ll be having a look at the video tonight and looking at where we can make improvements for tomorrow
“Their starting line gave up a lot of points early on, so we were able to capitalise on that,” said Roberts.
“Congratulations to them for fighting back – I thought that was a great performance by them and they ironed out all the wrinkles that they had early doors and showed why they are ranked where they are.
“Disappointing all the same because I thought we had their number, which was hard to take. We had a five-goal lead at one point, so that’s really inexcusable to let that slip.
“I think we’ll be having a look at the video tonight and looking at where we can make improvements for tomorrow.”
Playmaker Roberts was once again the key cog in the ParalympicsGB machine as he notched 21 tries while playing the entire 32 minutes and relished coming up against another wheelchair rugby superstar in the form of USA’s Chuck Aoki, who grabbed 20 tries of his own.
Two superstars of wheelchair rugby - Jim Roberts and Chuck Aoki - went head to head in Tokyo
“Physically I can probably match Chuck quite well but what he’s got is very good patterns in their team,” added Roberts.
“They always look to set where the mismatches are – where our low-pointers are, they’ll put someone with a bit more speed. That’s usually how they break the press.
“Usually I can match his speed and his turn, and it’s something that I look forward to the challenge of matching up against him.”
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