Coombe Place beat Prestmo in the dying seconds in a thrilling International Ladies Final
Sponsored by Cotswold Airport
The crowd were kept on the very edge of their seats right up until the final 5 seconds of this incredible ladies final, when the lead changed for the final time to put Coombe Place on top to take The Cirencester International Ladies Trophy, sponsored by Cotswold Airport, 6 - 5 1/2 the final score.
Coombe Place certainly looked like the favourite team on paper going into the tournament; they were the highest handicapped, making the most of the full 18 goals (Ladies handicaps) available, and had the Knepp Castle 2016 Ladies title under their belt; but the whole team were in agreement that luck was certainly on their side in the fourth chukka of this final. It was a nail-bitingly close finale which could have gone either way, and in fact, it was Prestmo who kept the lead for the majority of the game and were solid throughout.
Coombe Place and Prestmo both had convincing wins in the earlier stages of the tournament and many of the ladies taking to the field for the final were no strangers to the podium here in previous years. But with some new team line-ups this year and with highest rated player and former winner Nina Clarkin not participating as she is expecting a baby soon, there was a real feeling that all was to play for in 2016. Neither team were going down without a fight, which was evident from the moment the ball rolled in at the beginning of the game.
It was Lottie Lamacraft who was first to score for Coombe Place, tipping them into the lead above Prestmo’s ½ goal handicap start, but this was short-lived as Lottie fouled against Tamara Fox and Lucy Taylor converted the penalty to put Prestmo back into the lead; a lead they would hold on to until the final five seconds of the game. Lottie took a tumble near the goal at the far end and her pony made its own way back to the pony lines, but neither were any the worse for wear. In the last 30 seconds of the first chukka, Emma Boers was on the attack looking dangerous at the stand side boards when the play broke down, the back came in from Coombe Place but only to find Lucy Taylor of Prestmo, who made a cracking neck shot pass to find Tamara on her own who found the posts in two shots to give Prestmo a 2 ½ - 1 lead at the end of the first chukka.
Coombe Place were awarded a 60 yard penalty at the scoreboard end early in the second chukka which frustratingly for Coombe Place, Hazel Jackson was not able to convert. But just as Coombe Place were looking to feel the heat and very keen to keep themselves in the game, Claire Brougham swooped in on a backhand from Tamara which she took all the way to close the gap again 2 - 2 ½.
Emma Boers responded though, skilfully carrying the ball across the field and battled her way through a mellay to find the posts on the other side to make it 2 - 3 ½. Lottie Lamacraft made sure Prestmo still could not increase their lead by more than 1 ½ and scored to make 3-3 ½, but Tamara stole away on her own once again to make 3-4 ½.
Prestmo’s strength and consistency shone through in the third chukka. Emma and Tamara were particularly well mounted and the combination beat Coombe Place in play after play. “The plan was to shut them down” said Coombe Place captain Hazel after the game, “but they were just so strong and so well mounted it was proving very difficult to do and the plan still wasn’t working by the third”.
Emma Boers carried the ball across the field back and forth with a particularly fast pony and displayed some great play. Speaking after the game, Emma credited some of her strength and confidence in this game to the amount of higher level mixed polo she has been playing this year: “It’s given me heaps of confidence to get stuck in and not be intimidated by anyone” she said, this certainly paid off and would later lead to her being crowned MVP.
At the end of the third chukka Lucy Taylor was on the end of a mean bounce and missed the ball, but it was picked up by Emma who passed it on to Tamara, from the stands it looked to be inevitable that it would run wide, but Tamara pulled an incredible shot out to hook the ball back and through the posts to raucous applause from the crowds. This left Prestmo looking confident going into the final chukka with a 5 ½ - 3 lead.
Hazel had the line early in the last chukka though and was awarded a penalty, which she converted to make it 5 ½ - 4 and keep Coombe Place well in touch. A mistimed ride off led to another penalty which Hazel converted to make it 5 ½ - 5 and all of a sudden Coombe Place were in touching distance of the trophy and a frantic final minute ensued.
"We completely changed our tactics in the last" explained Coombe Place’s Claire Brougham:
“At the beginning of the game we were trying to shut them down and defend, but it just wasn't working, Emma and Tamara are so well mounted and we were being out run and beaten on every back hand. But in the last Hazel told us to just attack, run for everything and hope for the best!”
A tactic that with a stroke of luck paid off. Coombe Place created some great chances with this approach – none more than when Daisy Hatfield found herself alone and running to goal – but when these chances came and went, it seemed like they would inevitably be beaten by the clock. But with no more than 5 seconds remaining and amidst a good deal of shrieking and a mellay of all the players on the field, Claire Brougham did somehow, find the posts. It wasn’t a spectacular goal, but it was an incredible result and a turn-around for Coombe Place who were absolutely delighted.
RJ Polo took the Ladies Plate in the subsidiary final following and Paws2Rescue were victorious in the play offs in the morning for 5th and 6th place. All the teams were treated to fabulous prizes from Cotswold Airport including flying lessons! As well as prizes from Beaumont and Brown including high end bath products and luxurious towels and linen. The company who celebrate their 11th anniversary this year have just opened a brand new retail shop in Cirencester.