by Liz Higgins
England met South America in a 26 goal test match, the first of the UK senior international matches of the 2013 season, the St. Regis International Cup, at Cowdray Park. The England team comprised experienced international 7 goal players Luke Tomlinson (Capt.), and James Beim, and two 6 goal players Max Charlton and James Harper playing for England at home for the first time. South America’s captain was Nacho Figueras (6 goals), Ambassador for the luxury St. Regis Hotel and Resorts group, his number 2 Silvestre Grahn (3 goals), playing at number 3 was Alejandro Muzzio, (7 goals), with the highest ranked player on the field at 10 goals, Facundo Pieres, playing at back.
England opened the scoring with an impressive lofted shot from James Harper giving England a fine start. Muzzio opened the scoring for South America, followed by a goal from Pieres. Goals from both Max Charlton and James Beim interspersed with a second goal from Muzzio saw the first chukka close at 4-3 in England’s favour.
The second chukka saw Beim swiftly picking up the ball and neatly running down the field to pop it through the posts and take England further ahead to 5-3. With England displaying good teamwork, Pieres was ably ridden off by Beim and Figueras taken out by Harper, but as Pieres seized on the ball again and aimed for goal he was fouled by Tomlinson, giving South America the chance to pull one back with a penalty shot taken by the 10 goal Argentine. Tomlinson sent the ball through to Beim who was fouled as he tried to reach the goal. A penalty 30 yard spot hit at goal was taken by Tomlinson and England were once again two goals ahead. But as the action resumed, Nacho Figueras, the opposing captain, took a fall. After being attended by paramedics at the scene, he was taken to hospital and his place taken by Argentine player Bautista Sorsana with Facundo Pieres assuming the captaincy.
While the third chukka saw excellent inter-play between Tomlinson and Beim, it was a period without goals for the England side. Pieres meanwhile consolidated South America’s position with two great goals so that the score at half time was all square at 6-6.
After the tread-in, South America started to apply the pressure. Within the first minute Muzzio’s accurate pass to Pieres enabled a brilliant lofty 10-goal shot to take South America ahead for the first time in the match. However, a penalty for England saw Tomlinson level the scores. All too soon a scrum in front of the England goal resulted in a penalty for South America and the 30 yard shot at an undefended goal gave Pieres his sixth goal of the match. His next goal was a chancey little flick of the ball which landed between the posts and the score at the close of the fourth chukka was 9-7 in favour of the visitors.
In the fifth and final chukka, Bautista Sorsana got the chance to make his mark on the scoreboard with the seventeenth goal of the match although an inspirational shot at goal by Harper pulled one back for England. But a 10 goaler never misses the opportunity to wow the crowd and Pieres suddenly picked up the ball and powered off a lengthy cut shot which whizzed diagonally across the field to land plumb between the posts. The crowd gasped and the visitors were 11-8 ahead. England rallied once more and Harper sent an excellent shot through the posts but it was too late. The final chukka ended with South America the victors at 11-9. The England side showed themselves to be a well-organised and powerful team, but it was the sheer 10 goal brilliance of Facundo Pieres which ensured victory for their opposition.
1. South America (+26)
Alejandro Muzzio (+7)
Ignacio Figueras (+6)
Facundo Pieres (+10)
Silvestre Grahn (+3)
2. England (+26)
Luke Tomlinson (+7)
James Beim (+7)
Max Charlton (+6)
James Harper (+6)