Poulton/Balvanera win County Cup 2016 to put them in the hunt for Victor Ludorum 12 Goal Top Spot
Finally, summer has arrived. Ivy Lodge was bathed in warmth, and parasols were up to protect against the sun rather than to ward off rain. The Tayto vs Poulton/Balvanera showdown had a full grandstand, and picnickers were able to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and watch some great polo.
Tayto led from the start by default, receiving a half goal start on the board on handicap, but then added to this quickly, slotting two goals in to Poulton/Balvanera’s (P-B) one, in an otherwise rather quiet first chukka.
The second chukka say a lot of attacking from both sides but it wasn’t until a 60 yard penalty was awarded that a goal was finally scored – in P-B’s favour – neatly converted by Tomas Iriarte. Determined defending meant that play didn’t leave the right hand side of the field for several minutes, and then finally Michael Henderson made a break for it, streaking down the field and then victim to an unkind bounce at the very end, leaving the ball tantalizingly on the goal line- but it was deftly cleared by JJ de Alba, and then a goal to P-B, 3-3-1/2. Some lovely interaction between Matias Amaya and Martin Rodriguez straight from the lineout led to another goal, 3-4 ½ .
A 60 yarder early on in the 3rd went to P-B but was hit wide – Henderson had another great run for Tayto but also put that wide – the ponies galloping up and down the ground made not a sound – the sign of a well watered ground in this unfamiliar dry spell. Another 60 yarder to P-B went in this time, 4 -4 ½ . Ludo Ephson then namaged to sneak another goal in for his side, and then Glen Sherriff added one more – three goals in a row for P-B, to none for Tayto – but then a near 90c cross led to a penalty to Tayto, ending the chukka 6- 5 ½ .
There were no more goals until half way through the fourth chukka, when P-B scored once more, and then Ephson did it again, scoring straight away from the lineout. He then slotted in another, increasing P-B’s lead to 9-5 ½, and then Tayto’s Stephen Hutchinson scored a cracker, the final shot being an open cut shot, narrowing the deficit by 1.
P-B then had a whistle against them early on in the final chukka. Tayto just about managed to score the goal after the ball bounced off the post, closing the gap and keeping hopes alive, a difference of 9 – 7 1/2, eminently doable. P-B then had another opportunity to lengthen their lead with a penalty, but it went wide of the posts. A mistake from Tayto allowed P-B to then make up for their previous miss with a goal from Iriarte, ending any chance of a Tayto comeback, 10- 7 ½. They didn’t stop battling though, defending hard and preventing a near certain P-B goal. A spot penalty to Tayto came too late, there was not enough time to score three goals.
“We must be serious contenders for the Victor Lodurum now” said Martin Epshon, co-patron of Poulton-Balvanera. “We made the Dollar Cup final and sadly lost, but now we’ve won this!”
“Our first few chukkas weren’t great” said Ludo Ephson, “But we kept our cool, and kept to the same game plan which was to relax, communicate and flow – and it worked out”.