ENGLAND WIN OVER NEW ZEALAND
More than 1,000 spectators witnessed the Audi England team take their first victory of the season at the International Polo Test Match at Beaufort Polo Club in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, on Saturday 18 June. It was a fast and competitive match against four of New Zealand’s best players .
Earlier in the season, England narrowly missed out on a win against a very strong South American opposition in the St Regis Test Match at Cowdray Park Polo Club, Midhurst. Since then, changes have been made to the England line-up. Having been injured, Captain and pinnacle member, Luke Tomlinson thankfully was back to full health and played alongside England regulars, Mark Tomlinson and James Beim, together with six goal player, Nacho Gonzalez.
New Zealand, who received 1½ goals from handicap (note one) maintained a steady lead throughout the first chukka, with their Number One, Angus McKelvie, who was later awarded the Most Valuable Player award, playing well above his four goal handicap.
It was England Captain, Luke Tomlinson, who led the way, opening the scoring. However, moments later, it was his opposing Captain, John-Paul Clarkin who swiftly followed suit, converting for the Kiwis and showing the crowd he is worth every bit of his eight goal handicap. An impressive run from McKelvie on an extremely fast pony added another to the scoreboard for the visiting side, increasing their lead to 3½ goals to England’s 1. A foul by New Zealand resulted in a hit from the spot (note two) for England, and not wanting New Zealand to get any further ahead, Mark Tomlinson took the penalty extremely quickly, tapping the ball through the posts while half of the New Zealand team were off the pitch changing their horses, reducing New Zealand’s lead to one and a half goals at the end of the first chukka.
By the second chukka, the Audi England boys were finding their form and working very well with new teammate Nacho Gonzalez, who was being trialled in the England Number Four position for The Coronation Cup (note three).
An early goal from Luke in the second chukka gave England the lead for the first time in the match, a lead that they would never give up. Two more goals from the Tomlinson brothers gave England a comfortable 6 – 3 ½ lead at half time.
With two chukkas still left to play, there was plenty of time for New Zealand to make a come back, but a great goal from Luke, sending the ball straight through the middle of the posts from about 80 yards out signified that England wanted to ensure their first victory of the season. The next goal again belonged to England, this time courtesy of Nacho Gonzalez who showcased some skilful stick work, taking the ball from one end of the pitch to the other, speeding past the New Zealand team. England now seemed unstoppable.
Another goal by Mark gave them a huge 9 – 3½ lead, meaning it would have been very difficult for the New Zealand boys to regain the lead now. Having not scored since the first chukka, New Zealand put an end to their ‘goal drought,’ scoring two goals in quick succession before the end of the chukka, with Angus McKelvie, the lowest handicapped player on the pitch, scoring his second of the day.
In the early stages of the last chukka, a foul by England gave New Zealand a chance to get one back, but sadly for the boys in black John-Paul failed to convert, and it was England who were yet again the next to find the posts. Before the final whistle, John-Paul managed to add another for his country but it wasn’t enough to knock England off the top, giving the boys an encouraging 10 – 6 ½ win in their last International match before Cartier International Day, when we will see them take on a 29 goal side from Brazil.
After accepting their trophy, which was presented by HRH Prince Harry, James Beim appeared happy with the way his team had played saying, “We won comfortably and the team worked well. Luke was playing in the Number Three position which I like and Nacho was very solid at back.”
1. James Beim 7
2. Mark Tomlinson 7
3. Luke Tomlinson 7
4. Nacho Gonzalez 6
1. Angus McKelvie 4
2. Tommy Wilson 6
3. John Paul Clarkin 8
4. Simon Keyte 7