venue: Medway Park, Gillingham
13th July 2013
Full Match Report
WHEELCHAIR WORLD CUP FINAL
France held on in a tense and incredibly dramatic decider to be crowned new World Champions despite a desperate fight back from holders England.
In front of a sell out Medway crowd, the hosts clawed their way back into contention from 36-6 down at the start of the second half, a last gasp conversion miss from an acute angle by outstanding Jack Heggie just preventing them from taking the game into golden point extra time.
A pair of tries from Dany Denuwelaere and a score each for Gilles Claussells and skipper Cyril Torres gave the French a 24-6 advantage at the break.
In the second half, Gilles Claussells completed his hat trick despite being sin-binned late on and Fabian Plaza crossed to establish a sufficient cushion to just withstand the England comeback.
That was thanks to four tries from Harry Brown, two from Chris Greenhalgh and a score from Jack Brown as the crowd went wild.
“It was a fantastic game and really was one of two halves,” said England captain Andy Wharton. “France played their hearts out and very, very well.”
After seven minutes of tough and tight defence, France broke the deadlock when Denuwelaere crashed over in the corner for the opening score and then bulldozed his way through a crowd of England players to touch down for his second and extend the advantage to 10-0.
England responded well as they moved the ball right for Heggie to ground a try and convert.
It got a little heated with wheels coming off in all directions but the French raced ahead as Gilles Claussells and Torres crossed in quick succession.
Moments before the break, England were punished for a late tackle and Torres converted the penalty to give Les Bleus a 24-6 halftime advantage.
France continued their relentless intensity and pressure in the second half and five minutes in; they added two more tries to their tally.
Plaza claimed their fifth try in the right-hand corner and Gilles Claussells slammed the ball on the line moments later with Torres adding the extras for a 36-6 lead.
England kept fighting and did not let their heads drop and the Medway crowd roared as Chris Greenhalgh and Harry Brown ground out back-to-back scores.
Harry Brown chased down a high ball over the top and managed to get a hand on it inches from the dead ball line and Heggie converted for England to trail by 36-16.
However, France silenced the home crowd as Gilles Claussells touched down to complete his hat trick and Torres made no mistake in front of the posts, finishing with seven successful kicks and an 18 point tally.
England kept on fighting and, with 12 minutes to play, Harry Brown went over near the posts, followed by his brother Jack.
More drama unfolded as Harry Brown completed his hat trick to bring England within 10 points.
Gilles Claussells was sin-binned after wiping out Harry Brown as he tried to grab his fourth but that came soon after to set up the tensest of finishes.
With three minutes to go, Jack Brown was sent through by Heggie for a try but the referee ruled it out for a forward pass but Greenhalgh collected the ball over on the right to bring England within two points with no time remaining.
The pressure was all on Heggie to bring the game level but he missed the conversion and France were crowned world champions by enthralled Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Chris Greenhalgh, Andy Wharton, Martin Norris, Mike Stevenson, Ian Kenny, Jack Brown, Adam Rigby, Phil Roberts, Jack Heggie, Harry Brown
Lionel Alazard, Gilles Clausells, Mickael Gaune, Jean-Yves Ducos, Manuel Morais, Nicolas Massatt, Dany Denuwelaere, Nicolas Claussells, Fabian Plaza, Cyril Torres