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Mon 4th Mar 2019

Flannels England Rule the Arena

Playnation International Test Match for The Bryan Morrison Trophy

In the heart of West Sussex, Storm Freya very kindly delayed her impending arrival for the highlight of the international arena season, The Playnation International Test Match for The Bryan Morrison Trophy at The All England Polo Club, Hickstead. 
Prior to the main event, Hedonism Wines took to the field against Centtrip Wales for The High Goal Challenge, in front of a prepped and eager crowd. The play was fast and frenetic from the off, with Centtrip Wales quickly securing four goals to only one in response from their opponents early on in the first chukka. Centtrip Wales began to let things slip, losing patience, going into plays with little forethought. Hedonism Wines took advantage, bringing the scores to 4-4 at the beginning of the second chukka. Play was scrappy and full of whistle leading up to half-time, which saw the teams at 7-7 going into the break. Both teams clawed back in the final two chukkas, but Centtrip Wales made good on their earlier clumsy play, securing the title 19-13. Pete Webb was named The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player, whilst Gypsy, owned and played by Richard Blake-Thomas was awarded the Polo Times Best Playing Pony rug. 
Following the first presentation, the International Test Match got underway. From the first throw-in, the pristine team work and immense pace from the Flannels England side was something to behold. The French team, with noticeably less experience in the arena, were caught unawares on multiple occasions, as the Flannels England side notched up four goals in the first chukka to none in response, despite three penalty opportunities for the French. Going into the second chukka, Flannels England continued their goal scoring streak, bringing the score to a whopping 9-0 and it looked like France may never get off the starting blocks, but as Pierre Henri Ngoumou, fresh from his snow polo debut at The Snow Polo World Cup Kitzbühel finally managed to break the stalemate, commentator Chris Hyde commented, “Now we have a proper arena match”. Following the break Ed Banner-Eve, later named The Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player, came firing out of the throw-in with a 10th goal for the Flannels England side, followed by another off the stick of the Captain Will Emerson. But, following three penalty ones in France’s favour, the scoreboard gap was narrowed slightly to 15-7 by the beginning of the final chukka. At this point, it would have taken a miracle for France to come back from such a large goal difference, but in arena polo, this was not such a small thing. With this in mind, Flannels England kept up the defence as France began notching up goals, but two penalty ones in the home side’s favour ensured with just 1.49 minutes to go, Flannels England were still far in the lead 17-9. The final moments went by in a blur of horsepower and frenetic passing, but there was nothing that France could do. Flannels England walked away with The Playnation International Test Match for The Bryan Morrison Trophy with ease, to a roar from the assembled home crowd. Ngoumou’s dark bay mare Pulga was named the Polo Times Best Playing Pony and was presented with its rug, alongside the team prizes, by Bryan Morrison’s son, and The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club Chairman Jamie Morrison. A full report will follow in the next issue of Polo Times, so click here to make sure your subscription is up to date. 
The High Goal Challenge Teams:
Centtrip Wales (13): Amy Guy (1), Richard Blake-Thomas (5) & Pete Webb (7)
Hedonism Wines (13): Evgeny Chichvarkin (1), Tim Bown (4) & Jonny Good (8)
The Playnation International Test Match for The Bryan Morrison Trophy Teams:
Flannels England (18): Ed Banner-Eve (6), Eden Ormerod (6) & Will Emerson (6 – Captain)
France (19): Clément Delfosse (6), Pierre Henri Ngoumou (7 – Captain) & Patrick Paillol (6)
Photograph: Flannels England secure The Playnation International Test Match honours for The Bryan Morrison Trophy. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com

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