|10am International Challenge
||France – 11
Europe – 3
|12pm Pony Club
||England – 10
GB – 8
|2pm International Challenge||Germany – 10
Holland – 9
|4pm Pony Club||Northern Ireland – 12
USA – 11
The second day of the International Challenge and Pony Club matches gave us some thrilling games, with tight scores and great play.
International Challenge – France vs Europe
Europe won the first ball out of the line-out, putting in a nice pass up-field to take it into their area. A missed shot at goal gave France the opportunity to take possession, which they then converted into the first goal of the game. Europe fought back to score their first goal, and at the end of the chukka the score was sitting 1-1. This was a much better start for team Europe, with their first section of Mathilde Bizet, Charlotte van der Haar and Jessica Deurinck working well together against a strong French side. A quick goal from France got the men’s first chukka underway, with the French section driving down the pitch. However, they had to contend with Vibeke Svendsen as Europe’s number 3, who put on the pressure to win back the ball and pass it on to her number 1 Leanne Boekholdt, thus equalizing the scores. (It should be noted that for the International Challenge competition each team run a ladies and a mens section, but if they cannot make a full mens section a female player may be used. However, a male player can not play in the ladies section). France’s Remi Bader at 1 and Francois Mezieres at 2 then began to link up well to pull back a two goal lead for France going into the third chukka. Now France began widen the gap, most notably with the ladies section as Barbara Beaufils won back ball after ball then racing up the pitch on her speedy black pony to pass to her number 1 in Vero Mossaz. Europe showed some particularly strong defence in both their number 3s, but it wasn’t enough prevent France finishing the fourth chukka 8-2 up after a great goal from an incredibly tight angle by Remi Bader. In the final chukkas France continued to hunt the ball and put in the goals to take the game 11-3, although both teams showed some excellent defensive play throughout.
Pony Club – England vs GB
The two home sides took on each other, and this proved to be an excellent game for the spectators, staying incredibly close right down to the last chukka and showcasing some of our future polocrosse stars. Both teams had won their matches yesterday, and it was GB who scored the first goal. Both number 2s worked well in the opening chukka, and after 6 minutes the scores were close at 2-1 to GB. In the second chukka things started to change around, with England taking more possession and first equalizing, then taking the lead. By the third chukka both number 1s were having a hard time getting around such strong defence. GB’s Harriet Price was quick to bring the scores level again with a big throw over the top, not risking losing the ball to England’s strong number 3 in Sammy Connors. This brought team GB back into the game and the two teams were so well matched that it was goal for goal through to the fourth chukka, where again England started to regain their lead. GB were determined to reclaim possession, and the ball moved up and down the pitch as neither defence gave an inch, putting pressure on the 1s to make good each attempt at goal. In the fifth chukka GB had a reshuffle due to an unfortunate fall for Harriet Price, thus bringing Layla Henshaw at 1 and Henry Christiansen at 2 to support Emily Gilfillan in the number 3 slot. Towards the end of the chukka England’s Morgan Griffiths broke free with the ball, flew down the pitch hard marked by Henry, and scored again to put the scores 8-6 to England going into the final chukka. Despite some good teamwork between Hetta Carthew and Chris Milburn for GB, along with plenty of determination, both teams scored two goals apiece to give England a 10-8 win.
International Challenge – Germany vs Holland
Yesterday Germany lost to France and Holland had a decisive win over Europe. Today the German side, who made such a comeback in their final chukkas yesterday, came out with great determination and were rewarded with the opening goal. Germany made Holland work hard to regain possession, but the Dutch side did so to equalise the scores and finish the first chukka level-pegging at 1-1. The first of the men’s chukkas saw German number 2 Hayo Harder produce a strong ride off to clear a path for his number 1 in Max Schellerer to score, and the two sides seemed more closely matched today, with Germany winning ball in the line-out but then Holland’s Niels Kemperman whisking the ball away to score twice, backed up by a strong defence in Mijndert Heineke and Fleur Bartels. Germany were sitting just one goal behind at the end of the chukka. Goal-for-goal play characterised much of the game, with both teams keeping up the pace and the pressure and rarely pulling more than a goal’s difference. A ball on the German side in the line-out gave them the opportunity they needed in the fifth chukka to break away and widen the gap to 9-7, but in the final chukka Niels Kemperman had a great run for Holland, scoring 2 goals. However, it wasn’t quite enough, and Germany took the game 10-9, much to their very vocal delight.
Pony Club – Northern Ireland vs USA
In the last game of the day the USA scored in the first 15 seconds, and great goal from Nick Balogh. Effective work from his defence in brother Peter and number 3 Katherine Hanagan cleared the way for him to put away two more before NI’s Emily McCleane grabbed one back with a big overarm. Going into the second chukka NI began to put the pressure on with sisters Lizzy and Rachael Graham’s strong defence. Their number 1 William Armstrong proceeded to hunt the ball on his nippy pony, scoring three to pull level and then take the lead. By the third chukka both number 3s were firing away, keping the ball moving from end to end as each team struggled to score. USA brought things level again before Emily McCleane’s fantastic little chestnut pony pulled up lame and she was replaced by Nial Auret. The USA took their opportunity and put away two more goals to move the score to 7-5 in their favour. Now NI had some ground to make up, and a blistering run down the field by William Armstrong brought the score to 7-6, followed by a goal on the board against the USA that again equalised the score. During the fifth chukka NI’s Nial Auret gave the crowd the run of the day, streaking down the pitch with the USA in hot pursuit, catching the bounce at an impossible speed and then shooting for goal almost in one movement. To the crowd’s dismay he missed the shot, but it had been an eye-opening move that got the crowds cheering as the game came into it’s final chukkas. Meanwhile, USA’s Nick Balogh continued to have a very good game, scoring four more to again bring the USA up front. In the final chukka NI were two goals down, but if there was a section to pull it back it was William Armstrong and the Graham sisters. Brilliant teamwork, pickups and ball retrieval gave NI the three goals they needed to win the game 12-11, at the end of what had been a fabulous display of polocrosse from these young teams.