RH dominate King Power; UAE finish Thai Polo; Zacara edge out La Indiana

zacaraRH Polo – 11
Ben Soleimani (0), Francisco Elizalde (7),
Nico Pieres (9), Santiago Von Wernich (5)

King Power – 10
Tal Srivaddhanaprabha (0), Alejandro Muzzio (7),
Marcos Di Paola (7), Guillermo Willington (7)

Mixed weather conditions seemed to be the order of the day as King Power and RH Polo took to the pitch at Trippetts Farm for the first of the last three league matches to be played. As the heavy pre-match shower turned to sun, a slightly altered King Power lined up (Tal Srivaddhanaprabha, Matt Perry, Sebastian Merlos and Marcos Di Paola) against RH Polo (Ben Soleimani, Francisco Elizalde, Nico Pieres and Santiago Von Wernich). With his two elder brothers already through to the quarter-finals (Facundo and Gonzalito with King Power Foxes), Nico Pieres looked set to try and make it three.

Almost as soon as the game commenced a momentary sportsmanlike pause halted play as Ben Soleimani lost his stick and it was retrieved and passed to him, then amidst much shouting RH Polo scored the only two goals of chukka one. As the first became the second chukka, for the spectators it was umbrellas up and down and sunglasses on and off that punctuated play as rain turned to sun as rapidly as game changed ends. Then five minutes into the second chukka, a slip from his pony resulted in a broken collar bone for Marcos Di Paola, and suddenly Pite Merlos (who minutes earlier had been pitch-side seated in the car next to me) was on the pitch playing alongside his brother.

By half time a King Power side (in which only one player – the patron – remained from the opening match line up) had found just two goals against RH Polo’s nine. Rising to King Power – 6 vs. 10 – RH Polo heading into the final minutes of play, it was indeed all set to be a Pieres dominated quarter-final at 3pm on Saturday, as RH Polo scored goal number eleven, with King Power only finding ten – meaning the other King Power side (the Foxes) would be facing RH Polo across the pitch. –Victoria Elsbury-Legg

UAE – 7
Jose Ramon Araya (0), Lucas Monteverde (8),
Pablo MacDonough (10), Santiago Stirling (4)

Thai Polo – 6
Harald Link (0), Matias Torres Zavaleta (7),
Nic Roldan (8), Tomas Garcia del Rio (7)

A short drive through the country lanes took all the spectators to the second game, with ponies arriving over the hedge for match number three, Thai Polo and UAE drew at two all in chukka number two, then four all going into half time. By chukka six it was all the sixes on the board, in a match that Thai Polo had to win if they wanted a chance to go into the quarters.

It was however not to be for the team in orange, as Pablo MacDonough walked the ball through goal and found number seven for UAE – so they too joined Apes Hill, King Power Foxes, Dubai and El Remanso with four league match wins. –Victoria Elsbury-Legg

Zacara – 10 (OT)
Juan Martin Nero (10), Lyndon Lea (1),
Rodrigo Andrade (9), Jack Hyde (2)

La Indiana – 9
Michael Bickford (1), James Beim (7),
John Paul Clarkin (8), James Harper (6)

Heading up the bank to game number three of the final day of the league matches, the original Zacara line-up (Juan Martin Nero, Lyndon Lea, Rodrigo Andrade (just announced to be one member of the South America side to face England at the Royal Salute Coronation Cup) and Jack Hyde), faced Michael Bickford’s La Indiana (James Beim, James Harper and John Paul Clarkin – captain and one member of the England squad and captain of the New Zealand side).

With Juan Martin Nero levelling the play after a La Indiana opening goal, going into the second it was Zacara – 1 vs. 2 – La Indiana. With La Indiana yet to win a match, and Zacara with two wins, this was to be a game in which both sides were truly set on finding goals. A spectacular demonstration of stick work and showmanship by Juan Martin Nero opened chukka two, as he tapped the ball in the air a number of times by the goal mouth then put it through to equalise. Much running up and down the length of the pitch saw the score equalise again as the teams headed to their tents for half time – at 4 all.

By the end of chukka four it was Zacara – 7 vs. 6 – La Indiana, as Jack Hyde cantered into chukka five on Happy Trap (a grey mare) and goals continued to be equalised at 7 all, Zacara – 8 vs. 7 – La Indiana, 8 all, 8 vs. 9, then 9 all, which saw the two teams heading into an extra chukka, in which Rodrigo Andrade found the golden tenth goal (and the third win) for Zacara. –Victoria Elsbury-Legg

NEXT: HB POLO, SALKELD and KING POWER penalty shootout