Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2015 – Day 3
Brazil Goes Through, Argentina Beat England, and First Victory For Canada
Spectators were greeted with more glorious sunshine on the third day of the Fortune Heights Snow Polo World Cup 2015, the flags of the twelve competing teams rippling in the breeze above the snow at the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. Three tantalizing games were in store, as the Zone 1 teams played their second of three group stage contests.
Brazil took on New Zealand in the first polo action of the day. The South Americans were already on a win after annihilating Canada by nine goals to one in their opening match. They faced a strong New Zealand side who had beaten polo giants Argentina in one of the games of the tournament so far. The prize for the victor – certain progression to the knockout stages.
New Zealand edged the play in a hotly contested first chukka, Glen Sherriff galloping across to thwack home the opener, with teammate Chris Brooks making it 2 – 0 moments after. A Brazil penalty with five seconds left on the clock came to nothing, but it took just over a minute for the South Americans to even the odds in the second chukka, Guilherme Lins scoring both goals. Brazil were now in the ascendency, and a mistake by New Zealand’s Tom Hunt gifted them a third, rolled in by Aluisio Vilela Rosa. A penalty to New Zealand marked the last play of the chukka, Tom Hunt making no mistake from ten yards; the score at the break, 3-3.
It was gripping, end-to-end polo in the final chukka, with the South Americans having the best of the play. Guilherme Lins added two penalty goals to the Brazil tally without reply to put the final score at 5 – 3. Brazil, the form team of the tournament, have booked their place in the knockout stages; New Zealand may need a result in their final group game against Peru.
In the second match of the day, England, narrow victors over Peru in their opening contest, were facing an Argentina side eager to prove themselves after their defeat to New Zealand. It was a fractious opening chukka, the England trio of Perry, Routledge and Richardson conceding three penalties to a hard and fast Argentina, with Hector Jacinto Crotto scoring twice and rolling his third wide. The defending champions struggled to get a hold on the match, Jack Richardson swerving a penalty wide in England’s best chance of the chukka.
The action remained fast and furious in the second chukka, England’s Jack Richardson and Argentina’s Juan Manuel Echeverz trading crunching ride-offs. Argentina scored on the counter after two and a half minutes to make it 3 – 0, and England followed up with a penalty off the mallet of Richardson. Crotto replied in kind, lofting in his penalty three to give Argentina a convincing 4 – 1 lead.
England’s Richardson missed a penalty early in the third, but he made no mistake a second time at the halfway mark, narrowing the deficit to two goals. Argentina then scrambled an England attack off the line, but Max Routledge scored the ensuing penalty to put the white shirts right back in it. But a mistake by England let in Argentina’s Echeverz, who galloped the ball between the posts to seal the match, 5 – 3. Argentina have their opening win of the tournament; England face a tricky third game against Brazil.
It was a must win situation for both Canada and Peru in the day’s final contest. With both teams losing their opening matches, another defeat for either side could scupper their chances to progress to the knockout stages.
Canada exploded out of the blocks in the first chukka, Marcelo Abbiatti opening the scoring with a fine goal towards the hotel end. Peru tapped in a penalty seconds later to level the scores, but Canada’s Brandon Philips steered home a second with a beautiful open backhand to reclaim the lead. Phillips then pulled a penalty shot wide with just over a minute left on the clock, Canada trotting off the field leading by two goals to one.
The game opened up in the second chukka, neither side quite able to convert their chances until Canada forced a penalty just beyond the halfway stage. Brandon Phillips made no mistake, and Canada were looking the more composed side as Robert Stenzel narrowly missed with a blistering charge at goal.
Canada made it 4 -1 after a minute of play in the third chukka, Marcelo Abbiatti guiding it neatly between the posts. Peru’s Guillermo Li spurned a fantastic chance to pull a goal back, and Canada claimed a confidence-boosting victory. Peru, on the other hand, are in desperate straits, needing a win in their final game against New Zealand and hoping that other results go their way.
The snow polo action continues tomorrow with Chile v Mexico, Hong Kong China v France, and USA v Spain.