La Dolfina’s powerful quartet leave it to the last against arch rivals Ellerstina as unbeaten run continues.
Adolfo Cambiaso’s all-conquering La Dolfina quartet kept up their bid for an unprecedented triple crown for the third year running with a dramatic victory over rivals Ellerstina to clinch the HSBC Hurlingham Open final on Saturday.
Trailing 13-11 in the final chukka, La Dolfina scored four times, including a last-gasp 60-yard penalty goal by Cambiaso, to win 15-14 and claim their eighth final in a row against the younger Ellerstina outfit.
La Dolfina had already beaten Ellerstina in the first of the summer’s Championships – the Tortugas Open – while victory at the weekend was their 31st consecutive win. Their last defeat came in the Palermo Open three years ago.
Both teams now head to the Argentine Open, the domestic denouement in Palermo, with La Dolfina on the verge of history.
Last year’s final was described by the Buenos Aires Herald as the “worst Argentine Open final in the last 30 years”.
But unless Ellerstina reveal themselves to be mentally scarred after Saturday’s defeat, the Palermo final – presuming that the two hot favourites reach the showdown, as expected – is unlikely to go the same way this time.
For this was the closest Ellerstina had come to overcoming the 40 goal La Dolfina. They were ahead throughout and just kept themselves in front despite Facundo Pieres suffering a nasty fall midway through the final.
But they hadn’t accounted for La Dolfina’s resolve as the minutes ticked and they edged ahead in the final minute.
“I’m not quite 100 per cent physically [there],” Cambiaso told reporters. “We have to improve, Ellerstina played very well.”
The 40 year-old Argentine great was referring to the muscle injury which nearly put paid to his hopes of saddling up for the final.
Not for nothing is Cambiaso – who had to contend with a shoulder injury last year – revered as one of sport’s toughest opponents.
And with La Dolfina’s bid for the triple-triple still alive, there is a growing sense that Cambiaso is putting not only his ailing body, but every last ounce of energy into success next month before potentially winding down his career at the top level.
Argentina’s polo-mad fraternity awaits the outcome, while his achievements will hopefully be realised on a wider sporting scale too.
La Dolfina: Adolfo Cambiaso (8 goals), David Stirling (4), Pablo Mac Donough (3) Juan Martín Nero.
Ellerstina: Pablo Pieres (3 goals), Nicolás Pieres, Gonzalo Pieres (4) Facundo Pieres(7).
Scoring: 2-2, 3-5, 5-7, 7-9, 8-12, 10-12, 11-13, 15-14.