Steelers suffer Para rugby semi loss to US

·2-min read

Australia will not defend their Paralympic wheelchair rugby gold medal after suffering a 49-42 loss to the United States in their semi-final.

Saturday night's contest was a rematch of the 2016 gold medal showdown, where the Steelers prevailed, but on this occasion the US snatched an early lead and never really looked back, sealing a gold medal clash with Great Britain.

It means Australia will face Japan - who lost 55-49 to Great Britain in the other semi - having lost three of four matches in Tokyo, in the bronze medal match.

Australia had won gold at the past two Paralympics and it is the first time since 2004 the Steelers have failed to make the final.

"We've had an up-and-down tournament - we've had some good bits, we've had some bad bits - unfortunately more bad parts out of this tournament," captain Ryley Batt told the Seven Network.

"That's just what's gonna happen with not playing as a team for two years. With our tight restrictions in Australia, team sports have been hit the hardest.

"But we're not going to take that away from America, we know they're a tough team.

"I know we're better than that, we should have had a closer game - but credit to them, it's going to be a cracker of a gold medal game tomorrow and we'll be fighting as hard as we can for that bronze medal against Japan."

Batt emphasised a need to clean up turnovers after the Steelers had 10 to the US' three.

Australia will also need to deliver a better showing than their most recent clash with Japan to seal bronze, after being beaten 57-53 on Friday.

"We want to come home with some hardware and we know we're better than we were against Japan yesterday," Batt said.

On Saturday night, the Steelers had no answers for tournament top-scorer Charles Aoki, who scored 27 tries, while Australian skipper Batt was next-best with 25, despite sitting out the final quarter.

Australia were made to rue their turnovers, giving up the ball 10 times to the US' three across the match.

The USA grabbed a slender 13-11 quarter-time lead and they nudged it out to 28-23 at the main break - despite Batt racking up 18 tries in the first half alone.

Needing a response after halftime, the Steelers were unable to work their way back into the contest and the US pushed their lead out to a-near unassailable seven tries at three-quarter time.

From there, Australia were unable to mount an unlikely comeback.

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