30/05/2024

Day one of the 2021 Wheelchair Rugby National Championships kicked off on friday Source: Joep Buijs Photography

The 2021 GIO Wheelchair Rugby National Championship kicked off today with dominant performances from NSW and WA.

The 2021 GIO Wheelchair Rugby National Championship kicked off on Friday morning, with teams travelling from across the country to compete on the Gold Coast.

It’s been a long wait for athletes and fans of Australia’s premier full contact para-sport, following the cancellation of the 2020 championships due to COVID-19.

Whilst the Victoria Protect Thunder look to defend their national title, individual performances will be crucial as players look to break into the Australian Steelers team that will go to the Tokyo Paralympic games.

Play commenced on day one with traditional rivals the Queensland Cyclones and GIO New South Wales Gladiators squaring off against one another.

What started as a close match with just one point in it at quarter-time was quickly blown out to a sizeable lead for NSW that Queensland stood no chance of overcoming in the final term. The final scoreline read 44 to 66.

No one would have known that the West Coast Enforcers were back for their first time in six-years, looking comfortable in the first game back against the South Australia Sharks. Whilst it was by no means the high scoring affair that was the first game of the day, the Enforcers were able to pull away with a 12-point victory at the end of four quarters, keeping the Sharks to an 18-point total.

The Cyclones’ second game was just as hard-fought against their first, taking on the Victorian Protect Thunder. The two sides traded goals for the majority of the first half until the Cyclones pulled away with a five-point lead at the middle break.

The Thunder didn’t stay down for long, taking a three-point lead scoring 14-points in the third quarter. The Victorians built on their lead in another high scoring fourth quarter growing the lead out to a six-point victory.

The Enforcers were back on court shortly after to play the Australian Barbarians. Despite the Barbarians taking a three-point lead at the end of the half. The Enforcers found a way to break through in the second half and come away with a second win for the day, once again finishing with 30 points whilst the Barbarians finished with 26.

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The Gladiators returned after a three-game break looking fresh to take on the Thunder. What initially looked like what was going to be another back-and-forth game, the Gladiators quickly took control late in the first quarter.

From then on they didn’t give up ground, winning the first three quarters and still maintaining a nine-point victory despite losing the fourth quarter.

The Barbarians are one of the most unique stories at this event.

Made up of athletes from across Australia, the team has not only has never played together before, but some members had never met before today’s play. This made it so much more impressive when they dominated the Sharks in the final game the day, keeping them to 14-points for the entire match, whilst the Barbarians broke the 30-point barrier with a final score of 31.

The Gladiators and Enforcers lead their respective pools, with tomorrow’s play dictating who will make the semi-finals.

Fans can catch day two from 9am on Kayo Freebies.

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