The 2nd Playnation Arena Polo Masters took place at The All England Polo Club Hickstead this weekend (13th and 14th January) after the huge success of the same event back in 2017. Played under snow polo rules, the tournament is arena polo with twist! Players compete off their grass handicap plus one goal and this year the tournament was played as 9 goals.
Four teams participated this year with title sponsor Playnation inviting all teams to stay for the weekend at the stunning Alexander House Hotel. This made for a fun weekend of competitive polo supported by camaraderie and a very social Friday and Saturday evening. The snow polo twist also meant that the rules are slightly different with ‘no turning’, which opened up the run of play and made for some very fast, open arena polo and a lot less whistle.
On Saturday Astra defeated Gamestec 15-8. It was a nice open game, with Simon Arber making the biggest impact by scoring a massive 9 goals in the game to secure victory for his team. In the second match Playnation narrowly beat Bell Fruit Games 9-8 with a solid performance by Howard Smith leading the goal scoring for the Playnation team.
The finals made for some fun and exciting watching for the spectators and sponsors with two tightly contested and very competitive games. The sub final became a very tight match after it looked was going to be rather one sided after the first chukka. Gamestec started strongly by scoring 6 goals in the first chukka with Bell Fruit only able to score once in the first 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Then with a strong defensive effort from Romilla Arber and her son Joe they managed to prevent Gamestec from scoring a goal in each of the remaining chukkas. This allowed Richard Le Poer to dominate scoring five goals to bring his team back within a goal but with the clock ticking down and a narrow miss, Gamestec had done enough to secure the win. The final score 9-8 in favour of Gamestec with a solid performance from Jonny Good all weekend.
The final began in similar fashion with Playnation taking the early lead and by the end of half time the score read 9-3. Obviously a very stern team talk at half time made Astra’s two professionals Morley and De Lemare focus and they both came out playing some clever team polo enabling Tom to score four very quick goals, taking the score 11-8 in favour of Playntion at the end of the third chukka. In response Smith and Dawnay began to show their arena prowess in the fourth chukka. Seb Dawnay notched up three goals to push the score further out of Astra’s reach but there was still time on the clock and Astra never looked like giving up.
With some smartly taken penalties by Simon Arber, giving his professionals back possession of the ball, Morley responded to Dawnay’s barrage of goals with a further four of his own. Between Bunn and Smith closing the back door, Astra ran out of time to close the gap further. The final score 15-12 to Planation. After the matches and prize giving, all the teams, family, fiends and supporters were treated to a Sunday Roast in the clubhouse. The event closed in the same vein as it had opened, with the main goal being to ensure that it was a sociable, fun tournament, with some fast and exciting polo thrown in!
All England Polo Club Hickstead: www.hickstead.co.uk