Ellerstina struggle in Hurlingham Open
By Herbert Spencer
Reigning champions Ellerstina Etiqueta Negra fought off a serious challenge from lower-ranked PilarÃ¡-Piaget in the Hurlingham Open Saturday, coming from behind in the seventh chukka to record an 18-13 win.
The Pieresâ€™ Ellerstina are the only 40-goal team in Argentinaâ€™s Triple Crown series and had already won the Tortugas Open. PilarÃ¡-Piaget are only a 33-goal side since their skipper Marcos Heguy went on the injury list. So Ellerstinaâ€™s five-goal victory was less than impressive.
Ellerstina led in the first two chukkas, but PilarÃ¡-Piaget drew even, 6-6, in the third. PilarÃ¡-Piaget held their powerhouse opponents scoreless in the sixth period to snatch an 11-10 advantage. In the seventh chukka the underdogs increased their lead to 12-10 before Ellerstina recovered to finish the match 18-13 in the eighth.
Ellerstinaâ€™s superior player and pony power prevailed in the end, but their Facundo Pieres, the worldâ€™s third-ranked player, appeared to lack his usual brilliance. Honours as Most Valuable Player went instead to PilarÃ¡-Piagetâ€™s TomÃ¡s GarcÃa del Rio, at handicap 7 the lowest ranked player in the match.
In the dayâ€™s first match at the Hurlingham Club, 35-goal Chapo Uno Hope Funds held 30-goal SÃ£o JosÃ© Audi scoreless to take the first chukka 5-0 and then lead throughout the match to win 18-11. This gave Chapo Uno a 2-0 standing in the tournamentâ€™s Bracket A, equal with champions Ellerstina.