Polo: Mbu Ngugi voted Most Valuable Player

Samurai amassed four points and enjoyed a superior goal-difference to retain the Kenya International 14-Goal polo tournament at Nairobi Polo Club (NPC) on Sunday evening.

Four of a Kind (four points), White Cap and Space and Style all had two points each in the round-robin encounter.

“Luck played a great role in this victory. Space and Style had to lose their match against White Cap for us to be declared champions,” Samurai captain and NPC vice chairman, Raphael Nzomo, said.

Samurai had a rough start in their opening game on Friday, losing 10-6 against a high-spirited Space and Style side that was captained by former South African national team striker, Buster MacKenzie.

MacKenzie was assisted in the encounter by North Kenyan farmer, Jamie Murray, who is currently the top-ranked player in the country at handicap five.

Samurai, skippered by another South African stalwart, Lance Watson (handicap 5) and comprising George McCorkell (3.5), Mbu Ngugi (2.5) and Nzomo (2.5), bounced back on Saturday to edge White Cap composed of MacKenzie’s son, Chris (7), Joss Craig (1.5), Kimoi Moi (2) and Archie Voorspuy (3.5), 8.5-8.

The win against White Cap revived Samurai’s hopes of clinching the trophy on Sunday when they played Space and Style and Four of a Kind that had Gareth Evans (5) from South Africa, Craig Millar (3.5), Tarquin Gross (3) and Tiva Gross (2.5).

Samurai left nothing to chance in their last fixture against Four of a Kind, thrashing them 8.5-4 in a fast-paced encounter where Watson and Ngugi scored three times each, while Nzomo and McCorkell added a goal each.

Murray scored a hat trick for the opponents as Millar added the other goal.

Despite the victory, Samurai were forced to pray for a White Cap victory over Space and Style for them to retain the coveted cup. Luckily, their prayers were answered as White Cap won 10-7.5 in a volatile encounter that could have ended either way.

“We began the tournament on a bad footing but unity and teamwork helped us spring back,” said Nzomo.

“Also credit goes to Watson for thrilling the crowd with his explosive and attacking Polo, while also offering unmatched leadership on our side.”

Ngugi was voted the Most Valuable Player of the tournament while Jessica Flight, owned by Nzomo and ridden by Watson, won the Best Playing Pony award.

“Jessica is a great horse, very intelligent on the pitch and with an amazing speed,” Watson said.

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