Shocks in polo’s Gold Cup as final looms

King Power Foxes and Talandracas / Picture by Clive Bennett
King Power Foxes and Talandracas / Picture by Clive Bennett

It was an action-packed set of polo Gold Cup quarter-finals. Here is how they panned out...

La Indiana 12 Sommelier 15

The first surprise of the weekend came in the form of a Sommelier win over La Indiana in the first quarter-final. Last year’s finalists La Indiana were one man down, their top goalscorer ‘Tincho’ Merlos out with an injury to be replaced by big brother Pite Merlos, a disadvantage that Sommelier pressed home.

Dominating straight from the off, Sommelier came out all guns blazing and put pressure on La Indiana throughout the game.

Sommelier won 21 of the 31 throw-ins and their high possession led to 12 field goals (six from Juan Gris Zavaleta) in an exciting high-scoring match.

La Indiana were forced into playing catch-up throughout, but as a two-goal lead turned in to a four-goal lead after half-time Sommelier were virtually home and dry and celebrated as the first of the four semi-finalists.

El Remanso 12 Monterosso 9

El Remanso had Monterosso beaten from early on, taking their place in the semi-finals opposite Sommelier.

Strong defence from the El Remanso line-up gave Monterosso little opportunity at the goal and the opportunities they did have they were unable to convert – scoring only six out of 13 shots on goal.

The solid teamwork of the El Remanso quartet also allowed them to freely attack the Monterosso goal, with quick runs resulting in goals.

Ollie Cudmore led the scoring from the field with four impressive goals. A good last chukka from Monterosso saw them come back from a six-goal deficit, but it was too late.

RH Polo 10 Habtoor 12

In the second shock of the quarters, tournament favourites RH Polo succumbed to the Habtoor side, losing out on a place in the semi-finals.

With Adolfo Cambiaso sidelined by injury, Hilario Ulloa stepped in to fill his ten-goaler space. Although he performed admirably, scoring four of the ten RH goals, he was unable to lead the RH side to victory.

Habtoor started strong, 3-0 up after the first chukka. They have performed better and better each match showing that although they are a new team, they are a force to be reckoned with.

This is only their second win of the tournament, the previous victory having put them through to the quarter-finals so they clearly know how to get the win when it counts.

Just two penalties in throughout the match meant plenty of exciting field goals, with Francisco Elizalde leading the scoring with six goals from the field.

King Power Foxes 10 Talandracas 6

King Power Foxes’ win over Talandracas lined up another brother v brother semi-final as the first match with Nico Pieres and his Habtoor side facing the reigning champions and his two elder brothers.

The Talandracas-King Power match was hard-fought, with Talandracas taking an early lead, and the score remained low as both teams tried their best to contain the scoring power of the other, marking closely and not allowing space for runs to goal.

With just one of the 16 goals coming from the penalty line (a safety 60 in from Facundo Pieres), the match was all about field performance.

In the second half King Power Foxes had figured out how to capitalise on the Talandracas style of play, mixing up their tactics and sending Facundo and Gonzalo forward to score and overcome the Talandracas defence.

This they did effectively in the fourth chukka scoring four goals to take the lead. They maintained this style of play and lead until the end of the match.

* The final is to come on Sunday. Watch out for coverage in next week’s paper.

LIZ HIGGINS

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