By Diana Butler
UAE Polo Team 11 – 10 King Power at Guards Polo Club – extra time/golden goal
Talandracas 11 – 10 RH Polo at Guards Polo Club
UAE Polo Team have set themselves up for a semi-final contest with their Middle Eastern rivals Dubai this Wednesday. However they had to fight for this ticket against an on-form King Power team. In fact this game went to extra time and only a golden goal from the stick of Santiago Stirling allowed UAE to continue their Cartier Queen’s Cup journey. King Power had dominated this match in the early stages and if they had been able to keep the momentum in the final three chukkas they would now be busy planning their assault on the final. Tot Srivaddhanaprabha’s team were 5-3 up at half-time, producing such a strong game that UAE failed to score at all in the third chukka. But this great work came to nothing in the fourth when Pablo MacDonough turned up the pressure, successfully converting penalties and scoring field goals to level the score to 7-7. UAE went ahead by one in the fifth but this was still anyone’s game and when King Power’s Guillermo Willington took the score to 10-10 at the end of the sixth, extra time loomed. The tension seemed to flick a switch in the UAE team and MacDonough was on the ball immediately from the first throw in of extra time, hitting a lovely pass to Stirling to score and keep HH Sheikha Maitha’s team’s Cartier Queen’s Cup campaign on track.
The afternoon’s quarter was a similar story. RH Polo (rec 1 on handicap) had dominated much of this game against Talandracas, which impressed the crowds with its fast, end-to-end polo. Although Ben Soleimani’s team were only ever ahead by two goals at most, RH Polo produced a great display of teamwork, with Santiago von Wernich producing an excellent penalty conversion rate, while Nico Pieres, who has been fairly quiet in the earlier league stages, was everywhere, picking up stray balls and successfully scoring most of his team’s field goals. He often came out on top in some great fast runs up The Queen’s Ground against his cousin Polito Pieres, and Sapo Caset. That said, these two Talandracas players are hugely experienced on the big occasion and continued to fight back. This determination paid off as Edouard Carmignac’s Talandracas levelled the score in the fifth and then a penalty and a goal from the Caset saw them snatch a last minute victory in the final chukka. So Talandracas not only received the Gerard Leigh Trophy, but earned that all important ticket to play King Power Foxes in the first of Wednesday’s semi-finals.
Cartier Queen’s Cup Semi—Finals Wednesday 10 June
· 3pm: King Power Foxes v Talandracas
· 5pm: Dubai v UAE Polo. The winner of this game will receive the Hubert Perrodo Trophy.