Canada tops France to remain perfect at wheelchair rugby Paralympic qualifier
Team finishes preliminary round with 6-0 record, advances to semis on Sunday
Canada's wheelchair rugby team improved to 6-0 at the IWRF Paralympic qualification tournament on Saturday with a 50-40 win over France. The team will now prepare for a semifinals match tomorrow with hopes of moving closer to locking up a spot at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Canada started strong and carried a 13-9 lead into the second quarter. Jonathan Hivernat led the way early on for France with multiple tries, but co-captain Trevor Hirschfield scored in the third quarter to give the Canadians a 24-21 lead. Cody Caldwell followed it up with a try after recovering a fumble.
France's Sebastien Verdin cut into the Canadian lead by manoeuvring around defenders to score a try in the third quarter, but Canadian star Zak Madell responded by accelerating for a score of his own. A back-and-forth battle ensued with both teams generating offensive attacks.
Madell streaked down the court for another try in the final minutes of the third, but Hivernat responded for France and cut the Canadian lead down to three points. Madell continued to seemingly score with ease as the game progressed, and he added another try to give Canada a 40-34 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
WATCH | The full match between Canada and France:
The Okotoks, Alta., native followed it up with a defensive block at the other end of the court.
Verdin scored for France to make it a nine-point game with under two minutes to play, but Mike Whitehead picked off a French pass seconds later before finding Fabien Lavoie for another Canadian score.
🇫🇷W 🇩🇪W 🇸🇪W 🇧🇷W 🇨🇴W 🇨🇭W <br>A perfect 6⃣-0⃣ record for CANADA 🇨🇦<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetsGoCanada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetsGoCanada</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ItsOurGame?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ItsOurGame</a> <a href="https://t.co/fwnkOH2vcu">pic.twitter.com/fwnkOH2vcu</a>—@WCRugbyCanada
The Canadians began to separate at the end with strong defensive pressure and a sustained scoring attack, ultimately holding on for their sixth win of the tournament.
CBC Sports has a free live stream of all of Canada's matches at the 2020 wheelchair rugby Paralympic Games qualifier from Richmond, B.C. Watch all the action here.