The Justerini & Brooks Arthur Lucas Cup 2018

Justerini & Brooks and Polo Performance were the first to start their bid for the tournament. The upper hand was very much J&B’s: in the first half as they stormed to a lead of 4 goals to 1 ½. A retaliation from Polo Performance would see them bring the score to within touching distance at 5 – 4 ½; but J&B reasserted their authority to secure the win with 7 goals to 5 ½.

Goal time was aplenty in the second match of the tournament as Noon Giraffe took on Confido in an exhilarating contest. Noon Giraffe claimed the first goal, but Confido did not faulter and took the lead with 3 – 2 in the first chukka and continued to be one step ahead of their opponents throughout the first half. They would then stamp their authority on the game after the tread in to score 4 successive goals to take their tally to 8, with Noon Giraffe trailing on 5. It was a decisive win for Confido with a final score of 9 – 7.

Not dwelling on their earlier defeat, Noon Giraffe would claim a hard-fought win over Justerini & Brooks on Friday 31st. With level scores of 2 all and everything to play for at the end of the second chukka, Noon Giraffe inched ahead in the third; J & B levelled again at the start of the final chukka, but the score at the close of play was 6 -5 in favour of Noon Giraffe.

Friday also saw another close contest between Confido and Polo Performance; the latter appearing to have the upper hand right up until the last chukka on a score of 5 ½ to 3. However, the Confido team rallied in response scoring end-to-end goals and preventing their opponents from adding to their tally to claim victory by a whisker, the scoreboard showing 6 – 5 ½ .

With the Swinhay No.1 ground in perfect form and the bank adorned with a host of beautiful cars from the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club, the finals of the Justerini & Brooks Arthur Lucas Cup were set to be a spectacle both on and off the playing field. First to stake their claims to first place were Confido Vs Justerini & Brooks. Confido set off with intent, but early chances from Mark & Luke Tomlinson would only go wide and it was James Harper who started the tally for J&B with a perfect penalty. To retaliate, Luke shot the ball towards goal, but it was pinched off the line by Harper. However, Tomlinson soon got his revenge, this time sending the ball all the way through to score. J&B just kept their noses in front with a goal by Christian Badenhop as the bell signalling the end of the first chukka sounded. In the second chukka, Mark Tomlinson ran the ball right to the mouth of the goal, only for it to bounce out of his grasp at the crucial point, allowing J&B to reclaim possession. Following a melee at the 60-yard line, Harper shot out from the pack, and was left to tap the ball over the line. Excellent play from Nina Clarkin to knock the ball out of Mark’s control resulted in Harper claiming another goal for J&B, bringing the score to 4 -1. As the crowds treaded in at half time, Confido came up with a plan to turn the tables for the second half. At the line up Luke put the plan in motion, setting a furious pace towards goal but was denied once again by Harper clearing the ball from danger. Confido, undeterred, clawed back some ground claiming 2 more goals to bring the score to 4 -3. But their aggressive play handed J&B another penalty, which Harper converted in style. If that wasn’t enough, Harper made it 6 – 4 with another excellent goal, showing why he was part of this year’s Gold Cup winning team. J&B looked set to secure the win as they all headed into the fourth chukka. Confido began their attack and this time they were given a penalty, but Harper yet again denied the goal with a steal. Hope for Confido came when Mark made it 6-5 but the clock was counting down. Their fates seemed to be sealed when with 10 seconds left on the clock, Mark passed to brother Luke who sent the ball soaring through the air to score as the clock hit 0. With scores now tied, a fifth chukka was required to determine the final result. In a slightly less exciting turn of events to conclude this so far exhilarating game, shortly into the fifth J&B were awarded a penalty, which was effortlessly taken by Harper to secure the win 7 goals to 6 to Justerini & Brooks leaving the final placings undecided and up to the result of the following game.

Next to grace the hallowed turf of the Swinhay No.1 Ground would be Noon Giraffe and Polo Performance; the former, fresh from a victory over J&B during the league stages and the latter seeking redemption following two defeats. Federico Boudou got Polo Performance off to a good start to claim the first goal. Hissam Ali Hyder seemed intent on adding to this in succinct style, but the chance was stolen by JP Clarkin allowing Martin Ffrench-Blake to bring it to 1 ½ – 1. Noon Giraffe added to their tally, but a penalty 5b in favour of Polo Performance would allow Hissam to bring the score to 2 ½ – 2. It was neck-and-neck throughout and as the score went to 3 ½ – 3 few could decisively say what the end result would be, making for edge-of-your-seat viewing. Hissam took another penalty with gusto, sending it high above the uprights and despite the enthusiasm of the goal judge, it was called wide by the umpires. Noon Giraffe turned the tables by capitalising on a penalty to inch ahead by 4 goals to 3 ½, followed up by a fifth goal courtesy of Martin Ffrench-Blake. Another penalty favouring Polo Performance would put them just half a goal short of levelling, but the final bell sounded signalling a win for Noon Giraffe.

 

After much calculating the final result was revealed; despite Justerini & Brooks winning the battle, Confido won the war to claim the Justerini & Brooks Arthur Lucas Cup. Prizes were generously provided by the Justerini & Brooks and presented by James Lucas, grandson of Arthur Lucas, cousin to Mark and Luke Tomlinson. The Polo Times Best Playing Pony rug was awarded to Dave Allen’s Squirrel and the Polo Magazine Most Valuable Player to Nina Clarkin.

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