England vs USA
6 – 5
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?
England vs Chile
8 – 5
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.