New Zealand Left Disappointed Despite a Win
The first International Test match was played for at Shongweni Polo Club in Durban on Saturday 13 September. The match started strongly for South Africa who scored four goals without reply during the first two chukkas and held a commanding 6-3 lead at half time. However, the strength, flair and skilled horsemanship of the New Zealand team, in particular John Paul Clarkin, emerged during the second half as the South Africans struggled to score in the last three chukkas. New Zealand fought back strongly, scoring six goals during this period of play to run out winners with a close final score of 9-8. The Most Valuable Player Award was given to John Paul Clarkin from New Zealand, whilst Brad and Amy Gace’s pony, Greased Lightning was awarded the Best Playing Pony prize.
Earlier in the day, SA Schools won the BMW Development Trophy with a score of 7½-5. The trophy is now in its 16th year and showcases some of the best emerging South African talent. Chris Lund received the title for Most Valuable Player. At the second test match of the series, the opening game of the day at Waterfall Polo Estate in Johannesburg was between BMW X6 who were victorious over their opponents, the BMW X5 team with a score of 5-2. Nanti Shabalala was named Most Valuable Player for the match.
The Johannesburg International Test Match on Saturday 20 September at the Waterfall Polo Estate, promised an epic battle as the South Africans, determined to avenge their Shongweni defeat, pulled out all the stops against the competitive and well-regarded Kiwis, to post a 5-2 lead at half time. South Africa piled on the pressure during the second half, scoring a further six goals to New Zealand’s four. Gareth Evans showed all his professional skills in blocking the impressive John Paul Clarkin, allowing Dirk van Reenen and Tom de Bruin free passage to score six goals between them. Selby Williamson, South Africa’s number one and the oldest player on the field with 86 Test caps, weighed in with three superb goals giving South Africa an 11-6 victory. Dirk van Reenen was named the Most Valuable Player and Lee-Ann Spark’s pony Star Queen, played by John Paul Clarkin, was awarded the Best Playing Pony prize.
The win in Johannesburg meant the South African team won the overall 2015 BMW International Series on goal aggregate, to conclude the 26th edition of this series.
Shongweni Polo Club & Waterfall Polo Estate Test Match teams:
South Africa: Selby Williamson (5), Dirk Van Reenen (4), Tom de Bruin (7) & Gareth Evans (6)
New Zealand: Hamish Ormond (3), Craig Wilson (6), John Paul Clarkin (8) & Thomas Hunt (6)
Photograph: The South African team raise the trophy at Waterfall Polo Estate. By Shane Doyle Photography/SA Polo