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Batt manhandles Kiwis
Australian powerhouse Ryley Batt is widely regarded as the most fearsome wheelchair rugby player in the world. And as his team maintained its unbeaten start to the International Four Nations clash in Sydney this afternoon, Batt showed exactly why he has earned such a reputation.
At times the 20-year-old was simply unstoppable as he led Australia to a 52-40 victory over New Zealand at the Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre, extending the hosts’ perfect start to the tournament after their 47-38 win against Great Britain in the opening clash earlier today.
Batt crossed for 31 goals to dominate the scoring, but it was his work defensively that instilled the most fear in his trans-Tasman rivals. Every time a ‘Wheelblack’ found himself in space, it seemed only a matter of time before they were looking over their shoulder, waiting for Batt’s imposing figure to mow them down.
More often than not, he did just that.
“Ryley was awesome today, simple as that,” Australian coach Brad Dubberley said.
“We didn’t give him a lot of minutes, but his impact was obvious. He was unreal.”
But perhaps more pleasingly for Dubberley, the Australian team’s three rookies joined Batt as the shining lights in the host’s 12-goal demolition. Jason Lees, Antonio Vecchio and Josh Hose are all playing their first international tournament on home soil this week in Sydney, and each handled the occasion with aplomb.
“Regardless of when we had our rookies on the court or not, we more than matched New Zealand’s best players which was great to see,” Dubberley said.
“The Kiwis are our old foes and we always have great games, so it was great to win so comfortably today. That said, we know they will be much tougher as the week goes on.”
The Australians led 16-8 at quarter time, 24-17 at the half-time break and 37-29 at the final change.
And after cruising to victory in the final stanza, it wasn’t long before Dubberly turned his sights to the blockbuster tomorrow morning, where Australia will meet Canada for the first time since their stunning semi-final clash at the Beijing Paralympics.
Australia won the contest in overtime to book their into the gold medal game.
“There’s no doubt it’s going to be a step up. Canada haven’t played us in Beijing and I’m sure that semi-final will still be in the back of their minds.”
Staged by the Australian Paralympic Committee, the tournament continues until Sunday.