Polo: Cowdray plays host to thrilling England-USA clash

Action from the St Regis international  Picture by Clive Bennett
Action from the St Regis international Picture by Clive Bennett

THE first of the HPA’s four internationals of 2012 saw England take on the USA at Cowdray Park in the first outdoor challenge between the two teams for 15 years on British soil.

Despite wet weather sparking a ground change and re-planning of the event, a large crowd witnessed a pacey, exciting match in ideal conditions.

England fielded a 24-goal side with Ollie Cudmore (four goals) playing in his first international at senior level at No1. Malcolm Borwick, a seasoned six-goal international, was No2 with experienced James Beim, at No3 slot and Luke Tomlinson (seven goals), at the back as team captain.

For America, Marc Ganzi (one goal) was No1, Paul Pieres, the only eight-goal player on the field, was at No2, with two seven-goalers Nic Roldan and Jeff Hall making up the 23-goal team which had a half-goal advantage to start.

The opening chukka saw penalties exchanged before nifty play from the USA resulted in the first field goal. Then Tomlinson set up Cudmore to take the ball down-field andly score the first field goal for the hosts.

The chukka closed with USA 2½-2 ahead.

Nic Roldan opened the scoring in the second but good teamwork from England saw that chukka close with them 5-3½ up.

Roldan showed his class with three goals in the third chukka but Tomlinson’s wel- placed pass to Beim brought a classic under-the-neck shot to make it 6-6½ at half-time. England started the second half well with a field goal from Tomlinson. A penalty by the captain moved England 8-6½ ahead. But a penalty to the USA inched the scores closer before Beim’s decent field goal made it 9-7½.

The final chukka opened with the USA giving away a penalty, enabling Borwick to widen the gap.

Paul Pieres entered the scoring with the 18th goal of the match. Then beautiful play saw Roldan run to the goal from halfway and pop the ball through the posts. The crowd watched as a cut-shot from Pieres took the Americans into a 10½-10 lead.

Borwick snatched the ball from the opposition and found Tomlinson. The captain didn’t miss and England went ahead by half a goal.

The USA were awarded a 60-yard penalty. Somehow stick and ball did not connect well and the ball was cleared. The final whistle blew and England had won the UK’s first international of 2012 11-10½.

Lord Cowdray presented the English with HM The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup. Paul James, global vice-president, St Regis Hotels & Resorts, presented the American captain with the St Regis International Cup.

Roldan was voted most valuable player while the best playing pony was Don Urbano Rolinga, owned by Hernan Pieres. A rug was presented by Jodie Kidd. The best loaned pony was judged to be Cruzera, owned by the Dubai team and played by Roldan.