After the first three chukkers of play it was a talent-laden King Power Foxes polo team with a humble 4-2 lead over Talandracas before riding on to an 11-10 win and a berth in Sunday’s 2015 Cartier Queens Cup final.
Sapo Caset scored the first goal of the game from the field, 1-0. King Power Foxes countered with penalty goals from Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres for a 2-1 lead in a defensively-oriented opening chukker.
Goals continued to be scarce in the second period. Hard checking and great defensive plays limited the offensive action to a single goal from Gonzalito Pieres. After two chukkers it was King Power Foxes 3 and Talandracas 1.
A penalty conversion from Caset kept Talandracas in the game in the third, trailing3-2, but King Power Foxes weren’t going to be denied as their young Number 2, Hugo Lewis, scored his first goal of the game to give his team a 4-2 advantage after the first half.
Facundo Pieres scored the first two goals of the second half, one on a penalty shot and the other from the field as King Power Foxes extended their lead to four goals, 6-2. Talandracas bounced back with a couple of goals of their own. Caset scored on a penalty shot and Zac Hagedoorn added a goal from the field. The King Power Foxes continued to lead by two goals, 6-4.
Facundo Pieres and Caset traded penalty goals, 7-5, as the fifth chukker got underway and then, Facundo Peres caught on fire. Two consecutive goals from Facundo were countered by a goal from the field from Caset, 9-6. Facundo Pieres closed out the fifth with his fourth goal of the chukker and his seventh of the game. King Power Foxes were in control of a 10-6 game with one chukker remaining in regulation play.
Even thought they were trailing by four goals, Talandracas wasn’t about to give up. Caset scored the first goal of the chukker ln a penalty conversion and then added two more goals from the field that cut the King Power Foxes lead to a single goal, 10-9, but time was running out. Gonzalito Pieres took advantage of a Talandracas foul by converting the penalty shot for a goal and an 11-9 edge. Caset scored on a penalty shot for Talandracas when time ran out on the rally. When the final horn sounded t was King Power Foxes with the 11-10 victory and a date in Sunday’s final.
Caset led all scoring with nine goals (six on penalty conversions). Hagedoorn added a single goal in the loss. Facundo Pieres led the King Power Foxes attack with seven goals (three on penalty shots). Gonzalito Pieres scored three times (two on penalty conversions). Lewis scored a single goal in the win, but was credited with great defensive work and named MVP. Facundo Pieres’ fourth chukker mare, Sharapova, was honoured as Best Playing Pony.
With Dubai taking the field with a patchwork team that had Martin Valent and Alejo Taranco replacing the injured Diego Cavanagh and Tom Brodie it was thought that a healthy UAE polo team had a good opportunity to advance to the Queens Cup final, but things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to.
In a hotly-contested opening chukker Adolfo Cambiaso scored the only goal of the chukker. Hard riding and physical play characterized the first seven minutes of play, and it was only an indication of what was to come. Dubai took the early lead, 1-0.
Cambiaso and fellow 10-goaler Pablo MacDonough exchanged goals in the second period, each scoring twice, as action on the field intensified. A second hard bump to Cambiaso had him off his horse for the second time in the chukker, and forcing the number one ranked player in the world to leave the game. Sapo Caset, Cambiaso’s recent fill-in during the Florida season was recruited to replace him and after a delay, play resumed with Dubai on top, 3-2. Caset scored the final goal of the chukker for a 4-2 lead.
With the Dubai team trying to coordinate their new lineup, MacDonough added two goals for UAE that tied t up at 4-4. Dubai team captain Rashid Albwardy kept Dubai from falling behind; scoring consecutive goals that had them in the lead, 6-4 to end the first half.
Fourth chukker goals from Caset and Alejo Taranco stretched the Dubai lead to three goals, 7-4. Santiago Stirling kept UAE from getting shutout with a single goal from the field. After four chukkers of play it was Dubai in the lead by two goals, 7-5.
The fifth period of the game belonged to UAE. Lights out defense was combined with three goals from MacDonough and a goal from Jose Araya, Jr. gave UAE their first lead of the game, 9-8, as the chukker ended.
Caset tied the game at 9-9 in the opening minutes of the sixth chukker. Taranco got the lead back for Dubai, 10-9. Fighting all the way, MacDonough tied the game with is eighth goal of the day, 10-10, and forced sudden-death overtime.
After a brief intermission, both teams returned to the field, and as luck would have it, it was a UAE foul that sent Caset to the penalty line where he converted from 40-yards out for the 11-10 win and a slot in the final of the 2015 Cartier Queens Cup against King Power Foxes polo team (Top Srivaddhanaprabha, Hugo Lewis, Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres). The injury to Cambiaso made the Dubai lineup uncertain for Sunday’s Queens Cup final against King Power Foxes.