HPA International Test Match for the Bryan Morrison Trophy
Despite adverse weather in the past week, the Hurlingham Polo Association International Test Match for the Bryan Morrison Trophy went ahead on Saturday 3 March. The match, normally played at AEPC Hickstead, was relocated to Westcroft Park Polo Club at the last minute, due to a frozen arena surface, but with a longed-for break in the snowy weather from the ‘Beast from the East’, the Flannels England team and the USA team took to the pitch for the 2018 Test Match.
From the first throw-in, both teams fought for play as though their lives depended on it. Chris Hyde, on his usual strong form, was the first to convert his efforts into a goal, taking the ball from the top corner of the arena and racing through mid-field to score a quick-fire goal – a great start for the Flannels England team. But, Playnation USA’s Pelon Escapite quickly responded with a goal for our friends from across the pond. This fraught and close play was reminiscent in the chukkas to follow. Both teams matched their competition’s goal scoring attempts as the scores read 4-4 at the end of the first chukka and 8-8 at half time. It wasn’t until the third chukka that a break in the ‘tit for tat’ style play occurred. Flannels England seemed to lose a bit of their earlier pizazz in the third, missing numerous attempts on goal and only scoring two goals, one off Sebastian Dawnay’s stick and another from a 15 yard penalty by Hyde. But, as the Playnation USA boys seemed to be in the same rutt, Flannels England were lucky to hold the scoreboard into the fourth chukka. With the scores reading 10-9 at the beginning of the chukka there was little in it, and as per the previous three chukkas, the Americans weren’t letting go easily. Hyde scored the first goal, followed by an amazing angled shot from Shane Rice in response, but with another goal from Hyde it looked like the Americans weren’t going to have their cake and eat it too. But, as if by magic, the Americans were awarded two penalties in a row, which if scored could have changed the outcome of the Test Match. However, the polo gods just weren’t being that kind – Shane Rice missed both of the penalties and despite some truly incredible play, saving three 25 yard defended penalties off Hyde’s stick, Playnation USA just couldn’t catch up. With two more goals from Eden Ormerod, the Flannels England boys signed on the dotted line. For his incredible defensive work, Rice was presented with The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player Award, whilst Prada, played by Chris Hyde in the fourth chukka and owned by Richard Blake-Thomas was awarded the Polo Times Best Playing Pony rug.
Michael Amoore, Chairman of the HPA Arena Polo Association told us,”Thanks must go to Richard Blake-Thomas and his team at Westcroft Park Polo Club. With only 48 hours’ notice, they produced a great day of polo for both the teams and the gathered spectators. A special mention must also go to the grooms, who turned out some amazing horses, despite the challenging conditions.
The HPA International Test Match for the Bryan Morrison Trophy Teams:
Flannels England (22): Eden Ormerod (6), Sebastian Dawnay (7) & Chris Hyde (9)
Playnation USA (21): Tommy Collingwood (6), Shane Rice (7) & Pelon Escapite (8)
Photograph: Flannels England beat the Playnation USA team in the HPA International Test Match to lift the Bryan Morrison Trophy at Westcroft Park Polo Club. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com