The final of the 82nd. Tortugas Open Emilio de Anchorena Cup, the first leg of the prestigious Argentine Triple Crown between La Natividad and Ellerstina, on Saturday October 8, was undoubtedly up to the task. Despite the extremely cold and widy weather, and even some rains, the spectators seated in the fully packed grandsstands at Tortugas Country Club enjoyed a remarkable championship match, fast paced, with just a handful of fouls and plenty of field goals. And beyond the final result, it was a memorable contest, definetly a day to remember and perhaps the best way to start the prestigious Triple Crown.
And it was a remarkable match as well, because all seemed set for Ellerstina to add another Tortugas trophy to their already vast collection. But it was denied by a determined La Natividad foursome – the Cañuelas-based lineup just needed a couple of minutes in the last chukka to claim the only title of the Triple Crown they haven’t won up-to-date – we must not forget they are the current reigning champions of the Hurlingham Open and the Argentine Open. Indeed, La Natividad won the match, but today, polo was victorious, with Ellerstina having played one of their best contests of the latest years, as well.
Ellerstina swept La Natividad with a heavy 4-0 in the first chukka. Gonzalito Pieres opened the scores followed by goals from Hilario Ulloa and Facundo Pieres. But slowly, La Natividad bounced back in the second chukka, with two goals courtesy of the extraordinary Jeta Castagnola, that allowed the green jerseys to stand one goal behind (3-4), until Hilario Ulloa scored again to extend the advantage to two goals in the last minute within that second chukka. However the average gap between the two teams was just a couple of goals until the third chukka; halfway the fourth, Ellerstina widened their lead to three goals (9-6) following a 40-yards penalty conversion by Facundo Pieres. By the way, it was the second penalty awarded to the General Rodriguez boys who, until then, they only scored field goals.
Following half time, and at the beginning of the fifth chukka, a goal by Polito Pieres closed the gap, but Ellerstina replied quickly thorugh Hilario Ulloa and Facundo Pieres, who picked the ball after a great pass from his brother Gonzalito. Now Ellerstina had a four goal lead (11-7). With two chukkas left, Ellerstina seemed on their way to maintain their winning streak in Tortugas; but things would change dramatically in a memorable sixth chukka.
Jeta Castagnola converted a 40-yards penalty at the start of the penultimate chukka; from then onwards, La Natividad bounced back strongly, such it was that Nicolás Pieres had to struggle to avoid La Natividad to score twice. Then, Ellerstina had a breath of fresh air after a neckshot goal by Facundo Pieres to extend their advantage to three goals (12-9). But that was it, because the merciless Jeta Castagnola showed up to produce three unanswered goals to make posssible the impossible – tie at 12-all, with one chukka left to play. So, a terrific last chukka was in the cards. While the weather continued to be cold and windy, with even some drizzle, inside the field it was hotter than hell, indeed…
At the beginning of the final chukka, Ellerstina re-took the lead after a 40-yards penalty conversion courtesy of Facundo Pieres. But it would be the last; La Natividad kept pushing forward. With just a couple of minutes left in regulation time, Nachi du Plessis scored to tie once again, quickly followed by a spectacular goal by Barto Castagnola to secure the 14-13 win in the last minute of play. At the end of the day, and after leading for most of the match, luck was not on Ellerstina’s side who weren’t unable to retain the title in Tortugas, that went to La Natividad, a formidable lineup who never surrendered and made it clear that nothing is over until is over.
82° TORTUGAS OPEN – FINAL – SATURDAY OCTOBER 8
LA NATIVIDAD 14-13 ELLERSTINA
La Natividad: Camilo Castagnola 10 (10 goals, 4 penalties and 1 corner), Pablo Pieres 10 (1) Bartolomé Castagnola Jr. 10 (2), Ignatius du Plessis 9 (1) Total: 39.
Ellerstina: Facundo Pieres 10 (7 goals, 3 penalties), Hilario Ulloa 9 (3) Gonzalo Pieres Jr. 9 (2), Nicolás Pieres 10 (1). Total: 38.
Score La Natividad: 0-4, 3-5, 4-6, 6-9, 8-11, 12-12, 14-13.
Umpires: Guillermo Villanueva & Martín Pascual. Third man: Gastón Lucero.
Francisco Dorignac MVP Award: Facundo Pieres.
Top scorer of the final: Camilo Castagnola (10 goals).
Top scorer of the tournament: Camilo Castagnola (28 goals).
Best Polo Argentino Bred: Open Chequera, ridden by Facundo Pieres.
BPP presented by the AAP: Open Chequera, ridden by Facundo Pieres.
The 82nd. Tortugas Open saw eight teams between 29 and 39 goals, in participation.