By Tom Degun
May 2 - Australia captain Ryan Scott (pictured right) today lifted the International Wheelchair Rugby Four Nations trophy after the hosts cruised to a 57-52 win over Canada in the final of the prestigious competition at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre.
Australia, who were undefeated on their charge to victory, saw off competition from Britain and New Zealand as well as Beijing 2008 Paralympic bronze medalists Canada to delight the rapturous home crowd.
After a series of round-robin matches, Australia saw off a spirited Britain 58-49 in the second semi-final after Canada had booked their spot in the final with a 58-50 win over New Zealand.
However, the Canadians rarely looked likely to cause an upset in the final and after taking an early lead, Australia never relinquished control.
After such a comprehensive victory, Australian coach Brad Dubberley admitted that his team is now full of confidence with less than five months to go until the World Championships in Vancouver.
Dubberley said: "Canada is a phenomenal team and for us to win like we did was great.
"Everyone was committed and it goes a long way to showing what we’re capable of.
"Overall this tournament has been great for our team in helping us to progress and develop new players heading towards the World Championships in September.
"Of the ten athletes we have on our team here, four are rookies so they got a lot of great experience throughout this whole week.
"We haven’t dropped a game since the Beijing Paralympics [when Australia lost to the United States in the gold medal match] and we’re heading in the right direction."
Although clearly disappointed to fall short of victory, Canadian coach Kevin Orr claimed his team will take plenty of positives out of the tournament as they prepare to win September’s World Championships on their home soil.
Orr said: "We thought we did really well.
"This is really good preparation for us for the World Championships.
"This was a great tournament and we really appreciate Australia having us here and giving us an opportunity to play against Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain."
Australia’s Ryley Batt was voted the tournament’s most valuable player after contributing 44 goals.
The 20-year-old from Port Macquarie, who returned only last week from playing in the US National League with the San Diego Sharp, said he was proud to give everything for his side.
Batt said: "We played our hearts out every minute of every game this week.
"It’s been a great week for us."
In the third place playoff which was held shortly before the final, New Zealand claimed a 53-52 victory over Britain in double overtime to claim the bronze medal by the narrowest of margins.
The nail biting match left Britain without a win for the tournament although leading player Andy Barrow said the team was happy with their performance.
He said: "This game was very close.
"It was a great game for our team to learn in and for many on our team it was the biggest game of their lives.
"It hurt to lose but we’re actually very happy with what we’ve achieved on this tour."
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April 2010: Australian wheelchair rugby coach says only victory will do in Four Nations tournament