As the league phase of the 2012 Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup for the British Open Polo Championship drew to a close, with three teams all on the same number of points, for the first time in the tournament’s history a penalty shootout was employed to decide the remaining team to take part in the quarter-finals.
Ellerston held their nerve to win the shootout and go through.
Saturday saw 2011 Gold Cup winners Zacara face Adrian Kirby’s Cortium in the first quarter-final, Polito Pieres proving the most versatile of the Cortium players and contributing six of the team’s goals in their 9-6 victory over a disappointed Lyndon Lea and his Zacara side.
In the second match, Dubai patron Rashid Albwardy, playing off a useful two goals, contributed two of his side’s goals while Adolfo Cambiaso dominated the action in their 10-7 win against Nick Clarke’s Salkeld team.
In the first of the two Sunday matches, Christopher Hanbury’s El Remanso side took on Ellerston.
El Remanso established an early lead but in the third chukka, Gonzalito Pieres for Ellerston first levelled the scores and then benefitted from El Remanso falling foul of the ‘no turning on the ball’ rule to score a penalty which took Ellerston ahead for the first time in the match at 6-5.
After the tread-in, both teams came back fighting for their lives with each side scoring two goals and the fourth chukka closing on 8-7 still in Ellerston’s favour.
Ellerston lost their way however in the fifth chukka as Guillermo Terrera and David Stirling powered the El Remanso side forward. Three goals were added to El Remanso’s tally on the scoreboard whilst nothing was added to Ellerston’s scoreline. Despite Ellerston’s Gonzalito Pieres’ and John Paul Clarkin’s continued defence and attack through the sixth chukka, the teamwork of the Hanbury brothers and their Argentine team-mates secured victory for El Remanso at 12-9.
The quarter-final between Sumaya and EFG Bank Aravali was highlighted by a remarkable show from Sumaya No3 Facundo Sola. Tearing away from the first line-out, he opened the scoring in under 30 seconds. Two more goals followed in swift succession with Sumaya ahead 3-0 to close the first chukka.
Eduardo Novillo Astrada and Marcos di Paola didn’t stop pushing for EFG Bank Aravali with Mark Tomlinson backing them up. But Sumaya remained ahead with Facundo Sola on fire as he contributed nine of the team’s final tally of 13 goals against EFG Bank Aravali’s 11.
The semi-finals were relocated to Cowdray Park’s Ambersham grounds to save the Lawns at Midhurst for the final on Sunday. See www.cowdraypolo.co.uk for details.