England take bronze in overtime thriller
England beat USA in overtime to claim the bronze medal of the 11th FIP Word Championship at Sydney Polo Club on Sunday in the sweltering late-spring heat.
The game had looked comfortable for England until the fourth chukka, winning almost double the throw-ins and benefitting from USA missing open chances to score from close range and a crucial 40-yard penalty at the start of the fourth chukka.
As an indication of missed USA chances, England knocked-in twice as many times to their USA.
With four professional players on each team, both teams looked to counter and use all their men at the first opportunity.
For the most part, England were the more clinical team.
That was until the fifth chukka when, at 4-4, a mix up between Sathnam Dhillon and Peter Webb in front of goal – where both payers left a backhand clearance in front of goal for the other to hit – allowed USA to tap in the goal and take a 5-4 lead.
With less than a minute remaining – the clock on 6.10 – in the fifth chukka, individual brilliance from Dhillon forced a tied game, the captain running from the left-hand side of the field by the boards around 100 yards out through the USA defence and escaping the attempted hooks.
Into the extra chukka the game went. USA fired from distance, as they had regularly all game, but the ball crept left of the post.
England progressed up field from the knock-in and, with possession changing hands two or three times after defensive backhanders, Webb emerged with the ball. He was blocked, and when Dhillon met the ball to advance into the attacking 30 yard area, an USA player – the only play available – came in front to clear without the right of way.
With the penalty duly awarded, England’s Webb walked up to stroke in the ball from 10 yards out.
“Great to win third but that wasn’t the objective,” said Dhillon, who again referred back to the game against New Zealand which they lost to hand Chile the advantage in Zone B.
“It was a great game, very back and forth,” said USA captain Jesse Bray.
“We had the first chance in overtime to score and the ball went out. They had their chance and they put it in,” he said in the press conference. “Overtime is anybody’s game,” he added.
England captain Dhillon said “we were leading until the last chukka. They kept coming back.”
“We got confused and just gave a goal away which was pointless. A couple of our mistakes, they get back in the game but we just kept to our plan,” he added, not alluding to his solo effort that kept his team in the game to force the extra chukka.
Compliments on the horses were today taken a new level as players say they are considering buying some of the horses being lent to them. Whether that is just apres-game talk or not, what higher compliment could there be to the tournament and to those Australians who have lent their horses?
Argentina too hot for hosts as they face Chile in the final
Argentina spoiled the Super Saturday party by defeating hosts Australia 9-5½ as the sun went down on Sydney Polo Club.
Australia led by ½ goal in the second chukka until James Lester collided with the goal post. The game shifted Argentina’s way as Australia lost momentum and the two goal margin they required to win slipped from their grasp as the game went on.
In true Australian style, Alex Barnet – Australian team squad member – refused to take anything away from the Chilean team, instead complimenting Dan O’Leary (3) who replaced Lester:
Both teams later complimented each other on the fast, open approach in which they played the game. It was the Argentines who were able to control the ball under pressure and at speed with greater accuracy.
Despite winning the throw in count, Argentina created more counter attack opportunities and were lethal when in front of goal, 17-year-old Tomas Panelo (3) standing out as a player to watch.
Argentina, who have two seasoned professionals in Valentin Novillo Astrada (5) and Hector Guerrero (5) at the spine of their team, aside from the first two chukkas of this game, have not yet looked pressured.
Wary of playing the champions in Sunday’s final, Argentine coach Diego Braun said “Chile didn’t play so well today but are still a strong team.”
As the Australians say for 12 minutes today, the way to play the Argentines seems to be at their own game.
England win but not by enough as Chile roll on to final
Holders Chile booked their place in the final of the FIP Championships at Sydney on Saturday despite losing to England 8-5.
England needed to beat the 2013 champions by 5 goals to reach the final and with this three-goal victory will play the third place playoff against the USA but rue a missed opportunity after their dip in form against New Zealand cost them dearly.
England at one point trailed by 4-1 before they mounted a comeback, led by Peter Webb (5) who played a strong game from the back.
As England gained the lead after half time the tension rose on International field but the English tan out of time.
England captain Satnam Dhillon said “the goal was to win by five. Honestly we didn’t doubt (that England could do) it” he said. “One more chukka and we could have done it. But we didn’t”
“We messed up against New Zealand. We came here to win”
Reflecting on the tournament.. “the one thing that has surprised us most has been the quality of the horses.”
Chile, who roll on to another final – having won the title twice – despite a lack of preparation thanks to a wet winter in Chile – said his team are still “not yet calibrated” and felt lucky to be still in the tournament despite what he described as a bad performance.
As the Australians saw today, the way to approach the Argentines, will be to attack.
USA fend off Spain to book likely playoff place
USA Defeated Spain 15-9 1/2 in the second game of Super Saturday and await the outcome of the Argentina vs Australia game.
Baring a win from Australia they will now progress to the third-place playoff, most likely against England.
Starting the game strongly, USA led by 3-1 ½ after the first chukka and always led the game, despite a comeback from Spain before half time.
USA captain Jesse Bray said “We started well. But started losing throw ins in middle chukkas. (which allowed Spain back into the game). Weren’t really finding any open players. They did a really good job on defence. They defended really well and counter attacked. In the second half we were in control again.”
Spanish coach Benjamin Araya – who, in 1980 won the Argentina Open as a 17 year old and is still the youngest player to have won the Argentine Open – said “we made two or three mistakes in throw-ins and a few breakaways.”
He added “you learn more from these experiences than when you win. If you want to win you need to perform for all the chukkas,” he added.
Joel Baker said his team bounced right back after half time: “Countering us really well and marked us hard.” His team now face a nervous wait to see if they progress to the third place payoff.
For Spain it is a case of what could have been after their narrow loss to Australia in their opening game.
Last gasp Kiwis deny India
New Zealand came from behind to beat India 9-8 on Super Saturday of the FIP World Polo Championship.
India led 8-5 in the fourth chukka and looked to be cruising for their first win, only for the Kiwi team to crush their hopes with a late comeback.
Coach Uday Kalaan said “we went defensive. The boys played really well. They got their confidence back. In the last game against Chile (the team) played two chukkas well. This time they played 4.5 chukkas well.”
India brought in Col Ravi Rathore (5) to replace Dhruv Pal Godara after two losses and looked set to have their first win.
“Ravi brought more aggression. He is more of a forward player. Druv likes to play rom the back. We needed more of an attacking team and Ravi brought momentum,” said Kalaan.
New Zealand captain Kit Brooks said “we were very nervous. We knew the Indian team would come out fast. We needed to compose ourselves, which took us a long time to do. We were chasing to start with and it took us a while to realise that we needed them to chase us,” he added.
With three losses, India are out, but will return home a proud team having competed with both Chile and India.
New Zealand will have a couple of hours nervous wait to see the outcome of Chile versus England.
Kiwis upset England to hand Chile advantage in Group B
New Zealand caused the first real upset of the 2017 FIP World Championship on Wednesday by defeating England 11-8 on the International field at Sydney Polo Club.
Coming into the game hot after their 16-1 demolition of India, England were expected to outscore New Zealand after the Kiwis were convincingly beaten 9-2 by Chile in their opener.
Replacing coach / player Cody Forsyth with 5-goaler Glen Sherri, New Zealand presented a different challenge to the last game.
“They came out, they turned quicker, they hit harder and the beat us,” said England captain Satnam Dhillon.
The game was tied 4-4 after two chukkas and New Zealand led by one at the break.
“We just had to keep the pressure on,” was New Zealand captain Kit Brooks’ assessment.
Referring to Josh Cork (2) and Henry Porter (2) who had run India ragged in England’s first game, he said “the two (New Zealand) 2-goal players really put the pressure on the two 2-goalers from England.” Those two players were never allowed space to run.
The Kiwis also won 17 throw-ins to five by England, who committed 10 fouls to just three by New Zealand.
Glen Sherri and Brooks seemed to control the ball better on a surface which, after four games, is still playing remarkably well.
The result puts Chile in the driving seat in Group B.
If New Zealand beat India, because the three top teams in the group would have beaten India, only the results between those three teams would count towards each team’s net goal count, the best of which takes that team to the final. Current estimations say that England need to beat Chile by six goals to reach the final.
Revitalised New Zealand now face India. With a current net goal score of -2, the Kiwis would need England to lose heavily to Chile in order to grab the second place spot in Group B and earn a bronze place playoff spot on Sunday.
Chile and Argentina look most likely to be playing the gold medal showdown as it stands.
Chile rumble as India restore pride
Chile won their second game in Group B with an 11-2 win of India on Wednesday after a strong first two chukkas from India that shook the champions.
After a 16-1 loss to England in their opening game, India needed to restore some pride and they should have been ahead after two chukkas but missed chances to go ahead.
The Indians came out with a different intensity – as coach Uday Kalaan later said “we fight for ourselves. We fight for our country.”
The Indians immediately put the Chileans on the back foot. India had changed positions of all four players come the first throw-in. But it was the intent and the man marking that appeared to cause the Chilean’s problems.
Had India been more accurate – missing four opportunities to score – they may well have built up a cushion for what was about to come from Chile.
At half time Chile led by 3 to 1 and, with India still in the game, Chile coach Martin Zeggers asked his players to simplify their game plan.
Chile coach Martin Zeggers said “India played a terrific first two chukkas and put a lot of pressure on our guys.
He added that after the break his Chilean players “made it more simple, started hitting back shots and turning.”
As the Chileans came back out firing, India were unable to maintain the pace as the more experienced Chileans began to win the throw ins and find runners up field.
“It’s only the second game with this team as was a very raining winter (in Chile).” Zeggers added
“We are still in a process of knowing each other under harsh circumstances, but what I take from today is that the simpler we play the better we play.”
The win sets up an enticing Super Saturday encounter against England as the teams vie to top the group and progress to the final.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, and worryingly for England, the Chilean captain Jose Zeggers said “England are a tough team but we feel good with the team (we have). We have not played much together. We had a really bad winter. We are starting with a team that we never thought we were going to start with.”
England played a tournament in Australia before the tournament. Could this be the edge that they need come Super Saturday? Or will the champions just keep getting better and better?
USA win but Aussies still alive
USA beat hosts Australia 7-5 in the second game of the day in Group A at Sydney Polo Club, but it’s the hosts who still have a chance to qualify for the final if they beat Argentina.
Despite the loss, Australia will need to beat Argentina by 3 ½ goals on Saturday to progress to the final. They will receive a ½ goal start in the game as Argentina field a 15 goal team to their combined handicap of 14.
A dejected looking USA skipper Jesse Bray knew that despite the win his team – who came so close to winning in Chile 2104 – would not make the final because of the goal difference rule. “We needed to win by 3,” he said.
Bray’s team was on track at the midway point of the second chukka. Early goals from USA saw them take a 3-1 lead but Australia bounced back to tie the game at 3-3 after three chukkas and to 4-4 after the fourth.
It was Bray who stepped up to break the deadlock between the two teams with a trademark power play and shot from distance in the fourth chukka. A Felipe Viana penalty gave USA the lead at 6-5 in the final chukka. With a minute remaining USA led by 7-5 after Jimmy Right followed up a Viana surge with a near side neck shot goal.
With a penalty from the centre of field with a minute remaining USA still had a chance, but Australia regained possession and the game finished 7-5.
With so much on the line, the two highest players from each team dominated the game: Jesse Bray (5) and Felipe Viana (5) for USA and Jack Archibald (5) and Jake Daniels (4) for Australia. The latter pair combined well with numerous backhanders finding a teammate, but the team were unable to finish off chances and USA were let off the hook.
Australian coach, Englishman James Harper said: “We started off slow, then got control of the game but didn’t quite finish our chances. We made a lot of chances to go up by maybe one or two. We didn’t quite take those. That kept them in the game and they finished strong.”
As Australia now set their sights on the must-win clash on Saturday, Australia captain Jack Archibald said “Every team is beatable.. We have to be more disciplined and finish the goals.”
“We were going to have to beat Argentina anyway,” said Harper. “The boys are fired up. You don’t get many chances to play in the World Cup in your own country. So they don’t need much motivation there.”
The stage is set for a glorious Aussie back-lash on Saturday. Favourites Argentina will play on the main field for the first time this tournament.
Argentina defeat Spain to top Group A
Argentina continued their dominating run in the FIP Word Championship at Sydney Polo Club on Tuesday with a convincing second victory in Group A, defeating Spain 12-3 ½ in a stop-start game on the Supremo field.
In a five chukka match that lasted two hours, owing to three falls – on two occasions players went “over the handlebars” on unfamiliar horses going for neck shots – and tack stoppages, Argentina produced another resounding display with their 15 goal team, conceding ½ goal on handicap.
Argentine coach said the game lacked rhythm but their strategy continues to be to play fast, open polo, which seems possible with the horsepower provided and what he described as the “amazing” condition of the fields.
The winner of each group progresses to Sunday’s final, and the win – after their opening triumph over USA in the tournament opener – sees the two-time champions continue their command of Group A with only hosts Australia in their way.
Spain, led by Pelayo Berazadi Rozpide, started the game in promising fashion and looked to be holding the Argentine ball players in the opening exchanges. A beautiful shot from distance by Rozpide reminded Argentines that Spain were only narrowly beaten by Australia in their first game.
The first chukka ended 2-2 before the South Americans began to dominate, scoring ten unanswered goals in the final four chukkas.
The throw-in count at the final whistle was 14-4 to Argentina, but many of those were not clean wins, perhaps indicating the Argentina player’s ability to win the tight plays. Only captain Berazadi Rozpide possessed the awareness and stick-work to keep the ball away from the swarming Argentines. He later said “they are four great players that play at a very high speed and we could not compete for more than one chukka.”
Spanish coach, Argentine Diego Araya said Spain’s objective before the tournament was to rank third or fourth place. He then went on to say “Of course it’s difficult to match Argentina when they have so many players to choose from. Most of these players are used to playing a much higher level of polo,” he added.
Most would not argue with that assessment. Argentina will take some stopping – but never write off a host nation.
Champions Chile come to the party
Reigning champions Chile displayed their pedigree with a hard fought 9-2 victory over New Zealand on Sunday afternoon at Sydney Polo Club.
In a physical encounter which saw man marking and horse power bring intensity to the game, it was the Chileans who could at times find a way through the New Zealand defence to ultimately win. New Zealand, headed by veteran Cody Forsyth, formerly 8 goals, showed all his experience to keep New Zealand in the game.
Chile scored four classy goals from counterattacks over the five chukkas, the first by Jose Zegers in the first chukka after a bold open forehand shot from distance. At times New Zealand hammered at the Chilean line – eight missed shots at goal and seven knock ins for Chile reflecting the pressure – the Kiwis struggled to break the Chilean defence, led by Alejandro Vidal.
Skipper Forsyth later said in the press conference that while the New Zealand players shot into horses, the Chileans found the gaps and were able to counter attack.
With the game swinging Chile’s way in the third chukka, Chile’s Zegers scored a sensational neck shot goal from 80 yards out. That chance came from a throw in – the overall throw-in count, was 15-11 to Chile but at one point was 14-7 – must have dented New Zealand’s resolve as the Chilean’s stretched their lead.
Zegers again pulled the trigger in the fourth chukka to seal the deal as he scored six of the team’s nine goals. It was a class performance from the number two, playing with the maximum handicap of five goals.
Both teams felt that the score line didn’t reflect the game – “we never felt in front except when looking at the scoreboard,” the Chileans graciously claimed after the game, but they appeared to have more firepower up front to seal the deal.
As the commentary team said, the horse power on display has set the bar for future FIP tournaments.
England smash India to announce presence in Australia
England announced their presence at the Sydney FIP World Championships on Sunday with a resounding 16-1 over India.
In a fast-paced game that again illustrated the quality of the horses provided by the hosts, England played a classic four-man game that saw India regularly exposed at the back as they failed to pick up the English runners.
Driven by seasoned professionals Peter Webb and Satnam Dilhon, England stole possession from India in the 50/50 plays and passed long quickly to find Henry Porter and Josh Cork, the latter whom had been expected to start at number two, but lined up in the green helmet signifying the number one player.
Winning 16 to 7 throw ins, possession was never a problem, with India scrambling in defence and failing to establish a foothold in the game.
India coach Uday Kalaan said in the post-match press conference that India were slow getting to their men as England dominated the tight plays.
England’s dominance was highlighted by nine missed shots at goal to just three from India.
“A very god start,” Said captain Dilhon. “We just have to be careful that for the next game we don’t get too confident.”.
“I just think we prepared really well. We came early. We played a tournament beforehand. We had a plan. We stuck to the plan and it came off,” added Dilhon.
India, who fielded the youngest player in the tournament in HH Padmanabh Singh, did create chances the game but the talented Siddhant Sharma rarely was given the space to play, as India were outclassed by a team that had played a warm-up tournament and, by the way they are talking, have come to win.
Australia leave it late to beat Spain
The second game of the FIP World Championships at Sydney Polo Club saw hosts Australia beat Spain 10-9 after a golden goal in extra time to kick off their campaign on home soil.
Leading 5-2 after two chukkas, Australia – who used their best horsepower early – appeared to be cruising in front of their home crowd, but Spain, who had created chances but saw shots go wide early on, fought back to tie the game at 5-5 at the break.
The Spanish momentum continued and, leading 9-7 in the final chukka, were spoiling the party.
Australia, led by Jack Archibald, then showed some bottle to tie the game with less than a minute remaining to take the tie into an extra chukka.
The opening-day comeback went to script as the Spanish team infringed with a turning foul in their own 60 yards area and George Hill duly slotted the penalty to take his team into the next game against USA.
Spain will take heart from their performance while Australia will breathe a sigh of relief.
Argentina stamp their authority in Sydney
The first game of the FIP World Championships at Sydney Polo Club saw Argentina overcome Team USA 12-9 ½ over six chukkas on the opening Saturday.
This was a convincing victory for Argentina, who have won the tournament 4 times since the tournament was first played in 1987.
The South Americans won the first two throw-ins of the game and with it two goals. That was the story of the game; Argentina winning the possession and creating chances, with USA working off scraps.
Team USA would count themselves lucky to be only 7 – 4 1/2 down at half time. The 2014 finalists – who narrowly lost to Chile in the 2014 championship – were still in the game, but the pattern of the first half continued in the last three chukkas and Argentina stretched their lead to 12-7 ½ .
USA rallied with two late goals to give them some confidence for their next game.
Argentina look to be the team to beat.
Argentina 8 vs Chile 7
England 6 – USA 5
Saturday 28th October
New Zealand 9 – India 8
USA 15 – Spain 9 1/2
England 8 – Chile 5
Argentina 9 – Australia 5 1/2
Wednesday 25th October
Chile 11 – India 2
New Zealand 11 – England 8
Tuesday 24th October
Argentina 12 – Spain 3 1/2
USA 7 – Australia 5
Sunday 22nd October
Chile 9 – New Zealand 2
England 16 – India 1
Saturday 21st October
Australia 10 – Spain 9
Argentina 12 – USA 9 1/2