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Sat 13th Jan 2018

16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel

Finalists decided in second day of competition

The weather might have been slightly less favourable than on day one, but the competition was anything but quiet. As the first teams took to the perfectly prepared snow polo arena, spectators, press and polo aficionados waited with baited breath to discover who will make tomorrow’s Final. 

Bernd Gruber and Polo Club Kitzbühel were the lucky two teams to make the most of the freshly prepared ground. Valentin Novillo Astrada, the second highest handicapped player in this year’s tournament said before the game, “The plan for today’s match is to win – to keep the play open and free, as Steffi Von Pock, Eduardo Anca and Marty van Scherpenzeel are really strong opponents.” He stuck to his word, controlling the match from the first throw-in. With a monumental handicap difference between the teams, Bernd Gruber began proceedings with a 2½ goal handicap advantage, but that was no deterrent for Polo Club Kitzbühel whose team-play dominated the first half. Polo Club Kitzbühel took the lead just before the half-time bell and as the players reconvened for the second half, Valentin Novillo Astrada found his snow footing, turning the entire match into Valentin’s Day! He expertly manoeuvred the ball through the mêlée, time and time again notching up goals and ultimately taking home the all-important win, 9-7½ alongside Polo Club Kitzbühel teammates Hector Monserrat and Schneberger.
If one Novillo Astrada win wasn’t enough on the second day of the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup, Alejandro Novillo Astrada, playing for Bendura Bank found his snow polo form to clinch another family victory. From the first line-out, the ball stuck to Novillo Astrada’s stick like glue, as he effortlessly fired shots up and down the field, ably abetted by his teammate Tito Gaudenzi who is hugely experienced on the snow. Once again, despite the 1½ goal handicap advantage awarded to Maserati, the considerable power of the Thomas Winter, Marc Aberle and Caspar Crasemann trio just couldn’t overcome the impressive Argentine and his American teammates. As Bendura Bank evened the play in the second chukka, it looked as though Maserati had taken a huge dose of their ‘brave pills’ this morning, hurtling around the snowy arena, but Novillo Astrada wouldn’t give an inch. Following the half-time break, it once again became the Novillo Astrada show, as he scored goal after goal. Thomas Winter, on his usual powerful form continuously fought back against Novillo Astrada, but despite his gallant efforts and powerful scuffles, it just wasn’t enough. Bendura Bank Captain, Melissa Ganzi, sealed Maserati’s fate with an expertly placed goal to make it 6-4½, seemingly putting the final nail in Maserati’s proverbial coffin. As this competition is down to goal difference, each one counts. Understanding this, Novillo Astrada placed four further goals through the posts in the final minutes and with it, took the final score to 10-4½. Top scorer of the day, Alejandro Novillo Astrada said at the end of the day, “Today was a great day for Bendura Bank. We really came together as a team and it paid dividends for us. Tomorrow will be a tough match, as we lost to Engel & Völkers yesterday, but, we’ll go into the Final the same as today – with power!” Teammate Tito Gaudenzi was also delighted with the victory, saying, “We went out and crushed it today, we scored as many goals as possible. We lost to Engel and Völkers yesterday, but in the Final tomorrow, rest assured there will be a different outcome!”
In the final match of the afternoon, as the snow began to fall, the ‘Red Devils’, Engel & Völkers, rode out against the defending 2017 champions Corum. From the word go, the match was fraught with penalties and scrappy play. As the lower handicapped team, Corum began the match with a 1½ goal handicap advantage, but they didn’t hold onto it for long as the dynamic duo of Augustin Kronhaus and Adrian Laplacette, ably assisted by Captain Kutlay Yaprak, began to notch up goals. The first chukka was a stop-start affair, as multiple penalties were awarded to both sides and each time missed. By half-time, the disjointed play hadn’t ended, but Corum’s Patrick Maleitzke gradually found his form, tactically slowing the play down. The plan paid off as Corum secured a further two goals to end the half 4½-2 up. Following what seemed to be a heated half-time chat, the Engel & Völkers boys ramped up the action in the third chukka, forcing Corum to make mistakes, which ultimately signalled their undoing. The tension mounted and play became more and more fragmented. Four penalties were awarded in the dying moments of the fourth chukka and following a successful penalty 15 from Laplacette, Kronhaus signed on the dotted line with a monumental backhand straight through the posts to win 8-6½. “Today was really tough”, said Engel & Völkers back Adrian Laplacette. “We were losing until the final moments, when we came together, and with luck we won! Like always, we’ll go into tomorrow’s match full speed, with everything we have!”
As Engel & Völkers left the field with their win, the line-up for the final matches was decided: Polo Club Kitzbühel face Bernd Gruber in the Engel & Völkers Cup; Corum will face Maserati for the Kitzbühel Country Club Subsidiary Final whilst the big game of the day will be between Bendura Bank and Engel & Völkers in the Final. 
Programme of the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel:

Sunday 14 January
11.30am: Polo Club Kitzbühel vs Bernd Gruber (Engel & Völkers Cup)
12.45pm: Corum vs Maserati (Kitzbühel Country Club Cup)
2pm: Bendura Bank vs Engel & Völkers for the Final of the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel
4pm: Prize-giving ceremony, presentation of Most Valuable Player and Best Playing Pony Awards and photo shoot
Admission to the public area with food village and exhibitors around the polo field is free, so everyone is welcome. For more information, please visit www.kitzbuehelpolo.com
The 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel Teams:

Bendura Bank (12): 
Melissa Ganzi (1/USA)
Alejandro Novillo Astrada (8/USA) 
Tito Gaudenzi (3/CH)
Engel & Völkers (11): 
Kutlay Yaprak (0/IRE)
Augustin Kronhaus (4/ARG)
Adrian Laplacette Jr. (7/ARG)
Polo Club Kitzbühel (13)
Sebastian Schneberger (2/GER),
Hector Monserrat (4/ARG) 
Valentin Novillo Astrada (7/ARG)
Bernd Gruber (9): 
Steffi von Pock (1/GER)
Marty van Scherpenzeel (2/NL) 
Eduardo Anca (6/ARG)
Corum (9): 
Philip Sommer (2/GER)
Lukas Sdrenka (3/GER)
Patrick Maleitzke (4/GER)
Maserati (10): 
Marc Aberle (1/GER)
Caspar Crasemann (4/GER)
Thomas Winter (5/GER)
Commentator: Jan-Erik Franck
Umpire: Mark Holmes

Photograph: Engel & Völkers secured their spot in the 16th Bendura Bank Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel 2018 Final witha  final goal against Corum. By Reinhardt & Sommer

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