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Sun 29th Oct 2017

FIP Championships Finale

Argentina snatch victory from Chile in seventh chukka cliffhanger

Today, Sunday 29 October saw two matches push into an extra chukka at the Sydney Polo Club as the battle on Finals’ Day for the XI FIP World Polo Championships placings got underway. 
Sydney did not disappoint from its sunny stereotype as the sun blazed city and even Australian spectators commented on the heat of the day. The soaring temperatures were equally matched with scorching action on the International field as the final four teams, out of the original 86 countries, prepared to battle it out for a podium place. The first Final of the day was between England and USA for third place and the players did not disappoint, with a very tight game which saw close marking resulting in few opportunities to score. England initially pulled ahead with Satnam Dhillon, Peter Webb and Henry Porter all finding the posts to only one in reply from the USA during the first chukka. So the England dominance continued, meaning that going into the final chukka they had led throughout with the score resting at 4-3. However, the USA did not go down without a fight and great play saw two American goals in quick succession allow them to pull ahead for the first time in the game. However, with just moments to go to the bell Dhillon scored to bring it to 5 all, meaning an extra chukka. Tense times ensued for the England supporters, but Webb saved the day with the winning goal safely dispatched to bring the final score to 6-5 in England’s favour, thus securing them third place. 
Next up, it was the turn of defending champions Chile to see off the advances of Argentina. Young 17-year-old Tomas Panelo for Argentina had impressed so much in earlier qualifying matches in the tournament that his handicap had been raised from 2 to 3. Thus, Argentina as a 15 goal team, conceded a goal to Chile at the start of the Final. To start with the match did not really live up to expectations, with close marking, lots of whistle, penalties aplenty and gaps in the play for tack issues. Add to that the pressure of the occasion causing unusual errors and the result was a slow scoring game. Argentina dominated the possession winning the majority of the throw-ins but they did not necessarily convert that to goals in the face of strong Chilean defence. At half-time it was too close to call with Argentina just nudging the advantage at 3-2. However, in the second half, the teams afterburners were well and truly ignited as the quality and speed of the game increased amazingly. Going into the sixth chukka, it was all sixes: sixth chukka and both teams drawn at six goals apiece. The tension rose as Chile found the posts in the seventh minute but with less than 30 seconds to go to the final bell, Argentina replied to draw the scores at 7 all. Then it was the turn of the sevens to be the theme: seventh chukka and seven goals all round. Before anybody had time to consider the options, young 17-year-old Tomas Panelo capitalised on a mistake by Chile and found the posts, bringing the final score to rest at 8-7 to Argentina. 
The presentation followed, which equalled the pomp and ceremony of any high goal tournament around the world. Speeches, bands, numerous awards and congratulations ensued – it was a true celebration.
And so, the XI FIP World Polo Championships drew to a close. The most lasting impression for Polo Times who were at the event, was the truly amazing horsepower which had been organised and amassed for the event. 270 horses from all over Australia had been loaned for the tournament without charge; they were carefully numbered and each were easily tracked by large numbers on their hindquarters (and brands on hooves) and accurate listing in the programme. The generosity of the lenders was repaid as their ponies were admired, coveted, and no doubt will be changing hands. The Australian polo community had worked together, enjoying this event to honour their fantastic horsepower and also their cooperation and cohesion. Many around the world could learn from their example in what was a great event at many levels.
A full report will follow in the next issue of Polo Times. There is much to tell! Don’t miss out by subscribing here today.
XI FIP World Polo Championships Final & Subsidiary Final Teams:
England (14): Ed Banner Eve (2), Satnam Dhillon (5), Henry porter (2) & Peter Webb (5)
USA (14): Matias Gonzalez (2), Jesse Bray (5), Felipe Viana (5) & Jimmy Wright (2)
Chile (14): Jose Ignacio Martinez (2), Jose Zegers (5), Andes Vial Pieres (3) & Jose Miguel Pereira Riesco (4)
Argentina (15): Lucio Fernandez Ocampo (2), Hector Guerrero (5), Valentin Novillo Astrada (5) & Tomas Panelo (3)
Photograph: XI FIP World Polo Championship winners, Argentina, celebrate their victory. By Richenda Hine/Polo Times

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