Argentina and Chile are the finalists of the XI FIP World Polo Championship 2017 which will be played tomorrow, Sunday 29th October, at the Sydney Polo Club. In the game for the third place England will encounter the USA

Results of Saturday 28th October:

New Zealand 9 – India 8

New Zealand came from behind to beat India 9-8 on Super Saturday of the FIP World Polo Championship. India led 8-5 in the fourth chukka and looked to be cruising for their first win, only for the Kiwi team to crush their hopes with a late comeback. Coach Uday Kalaan said “we went defensive. The boys played really well. They got their confidence back. In the last game against Chile (the team) played two chukkas well. This time they played 4.5 chukkas well.” India brought in Col Ravi Rathore (5) to replace Dhruv Pal Godara after two losses and looked set to have their first win. “Ravi brought more aggression. He is more of a forward player. Druv likes to play rom the back. We needed more of an attacking team and Ravi brought momentum,” said Kalaan. New Zealand captain Kit Brooks said “we were very nervous. We knew the Indian team would come out fast.  We needed to compose ourselves, which took us a long time to do.  We were chasing to start with and it took us a while to realise that we needed them to chase us,” he added. With three losses, India are out, but will return home a proud team having competed with both Chile and India. New Zealand will have a couple of hours nervous wait to see the outcome of Chile versus England.

USA 15 – Spain 9 1/2
USA Defeated Spain 15-9 1/2 in the second game of Super Saturday and await the outcome of the Argentina vs Australia game. Baring a win from Australia they will now progress to the third-place playoff, most likely against England. Starting the game strongly, USA led by 3-1 ½ after the first chukka and always led the game, despite a comeback from Spain before half time. USA captain Jesse Bray said “We started well. But started losing throw ins in middle chukkas. (which allowed Spain back into the game).  Weren’t really finding any open players. They did a really good job on defence. They defended really well and counter attacked. In the second half we were in control again.” Spanish coach Benjamin Araya –  who, in 1980 won the Argentina Open as a 17 year old and is still the youngest player to have won the Argentine Open –  said “we made two or three mistakes in throw-ins and a few breakaways.” He added “you learn more from these experiences than when you win. If you want to win you need to perform for all the chukkas,” he added. Joel Baker said his team bounced right back after half time: “Countering us really well and marked us hard.” His team now face a nervous wait to see if they progress to the third place payoff. For Spain it is a case of what could have been after their narrow loss to Australia in their opening game.

England 8 – Chile 5
Title holder Chile booked their place in the final of the FIP Championships at Sydney on Saturday despite losing to England 8-5. England needed to beat the 2013 champions by 5 goals to reach the final and with this three-goal victory will play the third place playoff against the USA but rue a missed opportunity after their dip in form against New Zealand cost them dearly. England at one point trailed by 4-1 before they mounted a comeback, led by Peter Webb (5) who played a strong game from the back. As England gained the lead after half time the tension rose on International field but the English tan out of time.

England captain Satnam Dhillon said “the goal was to win by five. Honestly we didn’t doubt (that England could do) it” he said. “One more chukka and we could have done it. But we didn’t. We messed up against New Zealand. We came here to win. The one thing that has surprised us most has been the quality of the horses.” Chile, who roll on to another final – having won the title twice – despite a lack of preparation thanks to a wet winter in Chile – said his team are still “not yet calibrated” and felt lucky to be still in the tournament despite what he described as a bad performance. As the Australians saw today, the way to approach the Argentines, will be to attack.

Australia 5 ½ – Argentina 9
Argentina spoiled the Super Saturday party by defeating hosts Australia 9-5½ as the sun went down on Sydney Polo Club. Australia led by ½ goal in the second chukka until James Lester collided with the goal post. The game shifted Argentina’s way as Australia lost momentum and the two goal margin they required to win slipped from their grasp as the game went on. In true Australian style, Alex Barnet – Australian team squad member – refused to take anything away from the Chilean team, instead complimenting Dan O’Leary (3) who replaced Lester: Both teams later complimented each other on the fast, open approach in which they played the game. It was the Argentines who were able to control the ball under pressure and at speed with greater accuracy. Despite winning the throw in count, Argentina created more counter attack opportunities and were lethal when in front of goal, 17-year-old Tomas Panelo (3) standing out as a player to watch.

Argentina, who have two seasoned professionals in Valentin Novillo Astrada (5) and Hector Guerrero (5) at the spine of their team, aside from the first two chukkas of this game, have not yet looked pressured. Wary of playing the champions in Sunday’s final, Argentine coach Diego Braun said “Chile didn’t play so well today but are still a strong team.” As the Australians say for 12 minutes today, the way to play the Argentines seems to be at their own game.

By Sydney Polo Club / Pololine