After suffering a heart-breaking defeat to La Natividad, RS Murus Sanctus’ hopes in the 127th Abierto Argentino de Polo rested on capturing an upset victory over 40-goal La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team. In a hard-fought battle that came down to the final seconds, Francisco Elizalde tapped in the winning goal to begin RS Murus Sanctus’ celebration with the 14-13 victory. Earlier in the day, La Irenita captured their first victory of the tournament, defeating La Irenita II 8-6.
In the highest foul count of the season, La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team and RS Murus Sanctus combined for 34 fouls and three yellow cards in a physical, tightly marked style of play that left no margin for error. Much of the game was decided on the penalty line where all but four of the first 18 goals were scored. Sapo Caset and Adolfo Cambiaso led their respective teams with seven goals each, but La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team’s inaccurate 27% shooting from the field proved to be the minor difference between the two teams that secured the thrilling 14-13 victory for RS Murus Sanctus.
The umpires whistle decided the first chukka with the only offense coming off the mallet of three penalty conversions for Cambiaso. RS Murus Sanctus struggled to gain possession in the attacking half under the pressure of La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team’s offense. Trading penalty 2 conversions inside the first minute of the second chukka, a field goal had yet to be scored through 10 minutes of play. That changed when Alfredo Cappella cut the deficit to two, but it was a brief break from the whistle, as Caset and Cambiaso quickly followed with penalty 2 conversions to set the score at 5-3. The final two chukkas of the half saw an increased pace that allowed Francisco Elizalde to break in behind the La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team defense, scoring two goals and bringing RS Murus Sanctus even at 6-6.
A foul-ridden start to the second half saw eight fouls in the six and a half minutes of the fifth chukka. Perfect penalty shooting from both teams resulted in Juan Martin Nero converting three chances, while Caset converted two, pushing La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team back into the lead. A rarity, La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team was held off the scoreboard in the sixth chukka, allowing RS Murus Sanctus to bring the game once again into a tie at 10-10 after field goals from Caset and Cappella. Matching La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team stride for stride, RS Murus Sanctus finally took their first lead of the match with 30 seconds left in the seventh chukka on a penalty 2 conversion from Caset. Utilizing their immense experience, La Dolfina Saudi Polo Team’s Nero responded with a penalty conversion and field goal to edge his team back into the lead. With the game seemingly destined for overtime, the score was tied with time running out until Caset began an attack for RS Murus Sanctus. Jumping on a loose ball over 60 yards out, a neckshot from Caset placed the ball right in front of goal. Battling in a ride-off with Nero, Elizalde was able to reach the ball and tap it through the goal as time ran out and RS Murus Sanctus captured the exciting 14-13 victory, keeping their chances alive to reach the final.
The first match of the day between La Irenita and La Irenita II did not feature the firepower of the second game, but the two teams remained close throughout with field goals hard to come by. Two penalty conversions for La Irenita II’s Tomas Fernandez Llorente in the first and second chukka resulted in a 2-0 lead as La Irenita struggled to find the goal. Juan Martin Zavaleta finally got La Irenita on the scoreboard with the only field goal over the first three chukkas, but it began a stretch of four consecutive goals for La Irenita that pushed them into the lead. After the early penalty conversions, La Irenita II went scoreless while Juan Martin Zubia converted from the 30 and 40-yard lines to end the half with a 4-2 advantage for La Irenita.
An increased focus on passing to begin the second half resulted in La Irenita II fighting back into the game, assisting on goals for Juan Ruiz Guinazu and Santiago Loza. La Irenita II’s third goal within a two-minute stretch quickly turned a two-goal deficit into a one-goal lead. For the second time in the game, La Irenita reorganized and produced a run of four unanswered goals behind a balanced team attack. One goal each from Martin Podesta, Facundo Fernandez Llorente, Zubia and Zavaleta carried La Irenita into the final chukka holding an 8-5 lead. Unable to produce enough offense to match their counterpart, La Irenita II managed a late penalty conversion from Tomas Fernandez Llorente, but it was not enough in the 8-6 defeat.
If La Natividad win over La Dolfina – they will go to the final. If La Dolfina were to win by 2 or more goals, the goal difference would lead to the defending champion in the final. Meanwhile, if La Dolfina beat La Navitad by 13-12 or more they qualify. If La Dolfina win 12-11 or less, the winner of the zone would be RS Murus Sanctus and will play in the final!
On Thursday 10, for the eighth day (fourth in Zone B) they will play at 12.00 on field 2, LD Polo Ranch vs. Los Machitos; and at 5:00 p.m., at 1, the only candidate for the AAP Triple Crown, after having won the 80th Tortugas CC Open – Ford Grand Prix and the 127th RUS Polo Open of the Hurlingham Club: Ellerstina Johor , vs. the La Ensenada La Aguada team, the revelation team of the season, after winning the subsidiary cups at Tortugas and Hurlingham and two wins at this Palermo Open. In this match the Navarro Correas Cup will be put into play.
Photo credit: Matías Callejo / Prensa AAP
To see the best plays of the game, click HERE , where you can download a video from ESPN.