Fabulous Ferne Park lift Duke of Sutherland Cup

The finalists for the Duke of Sutherland Cup / Picture by Clive Bennett
The finalists for the Duke of Sutherland Cup / Picture by Clive Bennett

End to end action delighted spectators at the final of the 2016 Duke of Sutherland Cup at Cowdray Park.

The 18-goal tournament is one of Cowdray Park’s six HPA fixtures which are open to all-comers. Nine teams entered with the home team Cowdray Vikings battling it through to the final to meet Ferne Park defending the trophy they also won in 2015.

George Pearson playing at No1 for Cowdray Vikings was joined by Tom Brodie (3 goals) at two, Will Emerson (5 goals) at three and Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8 goals) at back.

Jonathan Rothermere’s Ferne Park team included 5-goal England player Matt Perry at No2, Joaquin Pittaluga (7 goals) at three and Ignacio Negri (6 goals) at back.

It was all-out action from the first throw-in with a powerful ride-off from Novillo Astrada preventing an early goal from Ferne Park. Another attempt at goal by Ferne Park was saved before Pearson grabbed the ball and achieved an excellent goal for Cowdray Vikings. Very soon Pittaluga equalised and his second goal of the match saw Ferne Park ahead 2-1 to close the first chukka.

Ferne Park put immense pressure on Cowdray Vikings in chukka two, but somehow the home side managed to fend off the attack and benefit from two penalties, both sent through accurately by ‘Negro’ Novillo Astrada. The chukka ended 3-2 in Cowdray Vikings’ favour. A minute into the third chukka the whistle blew for a foul against Cowdray Vikings and Novillo Astrada’s long and low shot slipped through the Ferne Park defence to take his side further ahead at 4-2.

Cowdray Vikings continued attacking but excellent defence by Perry saw the scoreline remain in Ferne Park’s favour as the final bell sounded.

Despite a team effort with all four players in defence, Cowdray Vikings failed to prevent Ignacio Negri pushing the ball between the posts to pull one back. Emerson received the ball from the hit-in and sent it to Novillo Astrada; back it came to Emerson who sent a massive shot towards the goal from 80 yards which hit the goalpost and deflected.

Ferne Park were straight on to the ball and racing away enabling Pittaluga to send a lovely backhand shot between the posts for 4-4. The next attempt at goal came from Brodie for Cowdray Vikings which was saved by Perry. Off went Perry in the opposite direction but the whistle blew and Ferne Park were awarded a 30-yard penalty which Pittaluga rolled through for 5-4. Solid defensive play by Novillo Astrada continued until the end of the chukka.

Seconds into the fourth chukka, Brodie received a great shot from Novillo Astrada and sent a fantastic lofty goal through the posts for 5-5.

Perry found space again and galloped all the way to the goal to put Ferne Park ahead 6-5. Thirty seconds was all it took for Perry to score again and it was 7-5.

A pass from Novillo Astrada saw Brodie make an attempt at goal which went wide. Pittaluga and Perry went on the attack once more but Emerson intercepted and backhanded the ball to Pearson. Once again Brodie was well placed to gain possession and put it between the posts so that Cowdray Vikings were just one goal behind.

There was no cooling of the action in the final chukka and Brodie again sent a super shot between the posts to even the scores at 7-7. George Pearson was in the thick of the action as he rode shoulder to shoulder with Pitaluga, but a small mistake gave a penalty shot to Ferne Park and Pittaluga sent a high and accurate shot through for 8-7.

Cowdray Vikings continued attacking but excellent defence by Perry saw the scoreline remain in Ferne Park’s favour as the final bell sounded.

Jonathan Rothermere accepted the Duke of Sutherland Cup from Inèz Bethell who also presented team prizes sponsored by quality polo equipment suppliers, Casablanca.

Tom Brodie of Cowdray Vikings won the Award for Most Valuable Player. The Award for Best Playing Pony went to Biscuit owned and played by Matt Perry.

Ferne Park’s patron said: “Unfortunately pressure of business prevented me from playing in most of the early matches and my son had to substitute for me but the team really enjoyed the tournament. It was great to achieve victory against Cowdray today in such a tight match.”

In the subsidiary final, Simon Arber’s Four Quarters Orange ran out 9-7 winners against Saad Audeh’s Marchfield Polo.

The final of the eight-goal Easebourne Cup saw Ray Fine’s Las Estrellas facing Peter Barfoot’s Maiz Dulce.

Las Estellas’ father and son combo Ray and Wilf Fine were joined by team regulars and well-matched middle order players Nick Pepper and James Harper.

Maiz Dulce reorganised with Peter Barfoot sidelined through a painful ankle injury. Lottie Lamacraft was brought in as a substitute meaning that she took the No1 position with Ollie Cork at two, Matt Pitts at three and Glenn Sherriff taking over at the back door.

Maiz Dulce opened the scoring with an early goal from Pitts, rapidly replied to by two from Harper for Las Estrellas. Sherriff was next to score sending a big penalty shot through from 60 yards to make it even-stevens.

Las Estrellas set off on a big drive forward, the whistle went and a 5b was given against them. Glenn Sherriff tapped the ball, then sent a big one forward to Pitts who put a neat shot through and Maiz Dulce ended the first chukka ahead 3-2.

Chukka two saw Harper score from a 30-yard penalty to even the scoreline. Sherriff and Pitts continued to push for access to the goal but their efforts were cleared by Harper in defence.

Yet another hit forward by Sherriff was cleared by Harper, the ball was picked up by Pepper and passed to Wilf Fine who at top speed raced down the pitch to score a cracking goal and take the lead for Las Estrellas.

Lottie Lamacraft wasted no time in retaliation and promptly evened the score again at 4-4. From the throw-in Harper sent the ball to Pepper, there was a whistle and a 30-yard penalty given to Las Estrellas giving Pepper the chance to take the side ahead to 5-4 at the close of chukka two.

After half-time, the first throw-in saw Pepper steal the ball from Maiz Dulce and take it round for a neat pass to Ray Fine who scored a super goal to extend his team’s lead.

After a goalless third chukka, the final chukka opened with Las Estrellas in the driving seat and James Harper charging forward to take his fourth goal.

From the throw-in Pitts was first on to the ball. He passed it to Lottie Lamacraft but it was Ollie Cork who lofted a big shot between the posts to pull Maiz Dulce up to 7-5.

The next throw-in saw Pepper send a good ball forward to Harper and another goal. Maiz Dulce worked hard but Harper was unstoppable, a huge long shot bringing his sixth of the match.

A whistle denoted a foul from Maiz Dulce and Harper scored his seventh goal from 60 yards. Las Estrellas had won the Easebourne 8 goal Cup on a score of 10-5.

LIZ HIGGINS

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