Chile vs India
11 – 2
Chile rumble as India restore pride
Chile won their second game in Group B with an 11-2 win of India on Wednesday after a strong first two chukkas from India that shook the champions.
After a 16-1 loss to England in their opening game, India needed to restore some pride and they should have been ahead after two chukkas but missed chances to go ahead.
The Indians came out with a different intensity – as coach Uday Kalaan later said “we fight for ourselves. We fight for our country.”
The Indians immediately put the Chileans on the back foot. India had changed positions of all four players come the first throw-in. But it was the intent and the man marking that appeared to cause the Chilean’s problems.
Had India been more accurate – missing four opportunities to score – they may well have built up a cushion for what was about to come from Chile.
At half time Chile led by 3 to 1 and, with India still in the game, Chile coach Martin Zeggers asked his players to simplify their game plan.
Chile coach Martin Zeggers said “India played a terrific first two chukkas and put a lot of pressure on our guys.
He added that after the break his Chilean players “made it more simple, started hitting back shots and turning.”
As the Chileans came back out firing, India were unable to maintain the pace as the more experienced Chileans began to win the throw ins and find runners up field.
“It’s only the second game with this team as was a very raining winter (in Chile).” Zeggers added
“We are still in a process of knowing each other under harsh circumstances, but what I take from today is that the simpler we play the better we play.”
The win sets up an enticing Super Saturday encounter against England as the teams vie to top the group and progress to the final.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, and worryingly for England, the Chilean captain Jose Zeggers said “England are a tough team but we feel good with the team (we have). We have not played much together. We had a really bad winter. We are starting with a team that we never thought we were going to start with.”
England played a tournament in Australia before the tournament. Could this be the edge that they need come Super Saturday? Or will the champions just keep getting better and better?
USA vs Australia
7 – 5
USA win but Aussies still alive
USA beat hosts Australia 7-5 in the second game of the day in Group A at Sydney Polo Club, but it’s the hosts who still have a chance to qualify for the final if they beat Argentina.
Despite the loss, Australia will need to beat Argentina by 3 ½ goals on Saturday to progress to the final. They will receive a ½ goal start in the game as Argentina field a 15 goal team to their combined handicap of 14.
A dejected looking USA skipper Jesse Bray knew that despite the win his team – who came so close to winning in Chile 2104 – would not make the final because of the goal difference rule. “We needed to win by 3,” he said.
Bray’s team was on track at the midway point of the second chukka. Early goals from USA saw them take a 3-1 lead but Australia bounced back to tie the game at 3-3 after three chukkas and to 4-4 after the fourth.
It was Bray who stepped up to break the deadlock between the two teams with a trademark power play and shot from distance in the fourth chukka. A Felipe Viana penalty gave USA the lead at 6-5 in the final chukka. With a minute remaining USA led by 7-5 after Jimmy Right followed up a Viana surge with a near side neck shot goal.
With a penalty from the centre of field with a minute remaining USA still had a chance, but Australia regained possession and the game finished 7-5.
With so much on the line, the two highest players from each team dominated the game: Jesse Bray (5) and Felipe Viana (5) for USA and Jack Archibald (5) and Jake Daniels (4) for Australia. The latter pair combined well with numerous backhanders finding a teammate, but the team were unable to finish off chances and USA were let off the hook.
Australian coach, Englishman James Harper said: “We started off slow, then got control of the game but didn’t quite finish our chances. We made a lot of chances to go up by maybe one or two. We didn’t quite take those. That kept them in the game and they finished strong.”
As Australia now set their sights on the must-win clash on Saturday, Australia captain Jack Archibald said “Every team is beatable.. We have to be more disciplined and finish the goals.”
“We were going to have to beat Argentina anyway,” said Harper. “The boys are fired up. You don’t get many chances to play in the World Cup in your own country. So they don’t need much motivation there.”
The stage is set for a glorious Aussie back-lash on Saturday. Favourites Argentina will play on the main field for the first time this tournament.
Argentina vs Spain
12 – 3 1/2
Argentina defeat Spain to top Group A
Argentina continued their dominating run in the FIP Word Championship at Sydney Polo Club on Tuesday with a convincing second victory in Group A, defeating Spain 12-3 ½ in a stop-start game on the Supremo field.
In a five chukka match that lasted two hours, owing to three falls – on two occasions players went “over the handlebars” on unfamiliar horses going for neck shots – and tack stoppages, Argentina produced another resounding display with their 15 goal team, conceding ½ goal on handicap.
Argentine coach said the game lacked rhythm but their strategy continues to be to play fast, open polo, which seems possible with the horsepower provided and what he described as the “amazing” condition of the fields.
The winner of each group progresses to Sunday’s final, and the win – after their opening triumph over USA in the tournament opener – sees the two-time champions continue their command of Group A with only hosts Australia in their way.
Spain, led by Pelayo Berazadi Rozpide, started the game in promising fashion and looked to be holding the Argentine ball players in the opening exchanges. A beautiful shot from distance by Rozpide reminded Argentines that Spain were only narrowly beaten by Australia in their first game.
The first chukka ended 2-2 before the South Americans began to dominate, scoring ten unanswered goals in the final four chukkas.
The throw-in count at the final whistle was 14-4 to Argentina, but many of those were not clean wins, perhaps indicating the Argentina player’s ability to win the tight plays. Only captain Berazadi Rozpide possessed the awareness and stick-work to keep the ball away from the swarming Argentines. He later said “they are four great players that play at a very high speed and we could not compete for more than one chukka.”
Spanish coach, Argentine Diego Araya said Spain’s objective before the tournament was to rank third or fourth place. He then went on to say “Of course it’s difficult to match Argentina when they have so many players to choose from. Most of these players are used to playing a much higher level of polo,” he added.
Most would not argue with that assessment. Argentina will take some stopping – but never write off a host nation.
Chile vs New Zealand
9 – 2
Champions Chile come to the party
Reigning champions Chile displayed their pedigree with a hard fought 9-2 victory over New Zealand on Sunday afternoon at Sydney Polo Club.
In a physical encounter which saw man marking and horse power bring intensity to the game, it was the Chileans who could at times find a way through the New Zealand defence to ultimately win. New Zealand, headed by veteran Cody Forsyth, formerly 8 goals, showed all his experience to keep New Zealand in the game.
Chile scored four classy goals from counterattacks over the five chukkas, the first by Jose Zegers in the first chukka after a bold open forehand shot from distance. At times New Zealand hammered at the Chilean line – eight missed shots at goal and seven knock ins for Chile reflecting the pressure – the Kiwis struggled to break the Chilean defence, led by Alejandro Vidal.
Skipper Forsyth later said in the press conference that while the New Zealand players shot into horses, the Chileans found the gaps and were able to counter attack.
With the game swinging Chile’s way in the third chukka, Chile’s Zegers scored a sensational neck shot goal from 80 yards out. That chance came from a throw in – the overall throw-in count, was 15-11 to Chile but at one point was 14-7 – must have dented New Zealand’s resolve as the Chilean’s stretched their lead.
Zegers again pulled the trigger in the fourth chukka to seal the deal as he scored six of the team’s nine goals. It was a class performance from the number two, playing with the maximum handicap of five goals.
Both teams felt that the score line didn’t reflect the game – “we never felt in front except when looking at the scoreboard,” the Chileans graciously claimed after the game, but they appeared to have more firepower up front to seal the deal.
As the commentary team said, the horse power on display has set the bar for future FIP tournaments.
England vs India
16 – 1
England smash India to announce presence in Australia
England announced their presence at the Sydney FIP World Championships on Sunday with a resounding 16-1 over India.
In a fast-paced game that again illustrated the quality of the horses provided by the hosts, England played a classic four-man game that saw India regularly exposed at the back as they failed to pick up the English runners.
Driven by seasoned professionals Peter Webb and Satnam Dilhon, England stole possession from India in the 50/50 plays and passed long quickly to find Henry Porter and Josh Cork, the latter whom had been expected to start at number two, but lined up in the green helmet signifying the number one player.
Winning 16 to 7 throw ins, possession was never a problem, with India scrambling in defence and failing to establish a foothold in the game.
India coach Uday Kalaan said in the post-match press conference that India were slow getting to their men as England dominated the tight plays.
England’s dominance was highlighted by nine missed shots at goal to just three from India.
“A very god start,” Said captain Dilhon. “We just have to be careful that for the next game we don’t get too confident.”.
“I just think we prepared really well. We came early. We played a tournament beforehand. We had a plan. We stuck to the plan and it came off,” added Dilhon.
India, who fielded the youngest player in the tournament in HH Padmanabh Singh, did create chances the game but the talented Siddhant Sharma rarely was given the space to play, as India were outclassed by a team that had played a warm-up tournament and, by the way they are talking, have come to win.
Australia vs Spain
10 – 9
Australia leave it late to beat Spain
The second game of the FIP World Championships at Sydney Polo Club saw hosts Australia beat Spain 10-9 after a golden goal in extra time to kick off their campaign on home soil.
Leading 5-2 after two chukkas, Australia – who used their best horsepower early – appeared to be cruising in front of their home crowd, but Spain, who had created chances but saw shots go wide early on, fought back to tie the game at 5-5 at the break.
The Spanish momentum continued and, leading 9-7 in the final chukka, were spoiling the party.
Australia, led by Jack Archibald, then showed some bottle to tie the game with less than a minute remaining to take the tie into an extra chukka.
The opening-day comeback went to script as the Spanish team infringed with a turning foul in their own 60 yards area and George Hill duly slotted the penalty to take his team into the next game against USA.
Spain will take heart from their performance while Australia will breathe a sigh of relief.
Argentina vs USA
12 – 9 ½
Argentina stamp their authority in Sydney
The first game of the FIP World Championships at Sydney Polo Club saw Argentina overcome Team USA 12-9 ½ over six chukkas on the opening Saturday.
This was a convincing victory for Argentina, who have won the tournament 4 times since the tournament was first played in 1987.
The South Americans won the first two throw-ins of the game and with it two goals. That was the story of the game; Argentina winning the possession and creating chances, with USA working off scraps.
Team USA would count themselves lucky to be only 7 – 4 1/2 down at half time. The 2014 finalists – who narrowly lost to Chile in the 2014 championship – were still in the game, but the pattern of the first half continued in the last three chukkas and Argentina stretched their lead to 12-7 ½ .
USA rallied with two late goals to give them some confidence for their next game.
Argentina look to be the team to beat.
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