The beginning of the Wichenford Bowl 8 Goal VL saw the heatwave dissipated and blue skies replaced by thunder clouds. First to start proceedings were Smiths Polo and Strategic Help for Heroes. The first chukka featured a lot of back and forth, with a final goal by Peter O’Rorke making it 2 ½ – 2 by the first bell. In the second, Nico and Grant Collet really turned up the heat, scoring four goals to make it 6 ½ – 2 in favour of Smiths. In the third, Strategic could only manage to sneak one goal past Smiths’ defences and it concluded 7 ½ – 3. In the fourth, Strategic edged a bit closer 5 – 7 ½ but Nina Clarkin took a nasty blow to the neck from her horse’s head and despite her getting back on to play, the clock ran out declaring Smiths Polo as the winners.
Tafia Mafia started strong in their game against CANI, scoring 3 goals to a single goal by Louise Jebson in the first chukka. The combined efforts of Seb Chialvo and Matias Amaya kept Tafia Mafia on their toes as CANI inched closer, finishing one goal short at the end of the second and third chukka. However, with calculated shots from Dave Allen and big hits from Max Hutchinson, Tafia Mafia managed to hold back the opposition in the fourth chukka, finishing 7 – 6.
The league game between CANI and Tomlinson Equine was played to the soundtrack of thunder as dark, ominous clouds moved across 3 Cornered Ground. Mikey Henderson converted a penalty early on for Tomlinson Equine and they scored again to make it 2 – 0 just before a hail shower punctuated the end of the first chukka. CANI levelled in the second with goals from Matias Amaya, with penalties on both sides bringing it to 3 – 3 at half time. Tamara Fox put Tomlinson Equine into the lead in the third, but a perfectly executed penalty by Seb Chialvo levelled the score again, 4 – 4. A further penalty sent through by Mikey made it 5 – 4 into the fourth chukka. Emma Wood extended the lead for her team 4 – 6 but a goal by Celio and a penalty by Matias closed the gap once again. In the dying seconds of the game, CANI were handed the win with a penalty, finishing the game 7 – 6.
With the storm clouds passed and replaced by bright sunshine, Smiths Polo and Shibumi took to Roadside Ground. Luke Wiles was the first to score with a penalty, 1 – 1/2, followed by a goal by Smiths to bring them back into the lead. Shibumi replied in the second but a classy under the neck shot by Marcus Speed brought the score to 2 ½ – 2. Two penalties in favour of Shibumi scuppered Smiths’ lead, 4 – 2 ½ but they gained it back in the third chukka, 4 ½ – 4. In the fourth, Luke Wiles took the ball to goal, but it stopped just short at the right-hand post. Fortunately, Mark Baldwin was right behind, and he guided it over the line 5 – 4 1/2. Lisa Smith then sent through a goal 5 ½ – 5 only to have Mark Baldwin reply 6 – 5 ½. With less than a minute on the clock, Nico Antinori managed to score and it looked like Smiths would be the winners. However, with barely a second left, Mark Baldwin sent a shot to goal and it crossed the line a millisecond before the bell and Shibumi won 7 ½ – 6.
On Tuesday 18th August, Tomlinson Equine were quick to add to their score in their game against Tafia Mafia, but a goal by Max Hutchinson and a penalty evened the score, 2 – 2. The second chukka was end to end; Dave Allen chased a ball through the posts, followed by Tamara Fox to make it 3 – 3. Max made it 4 – 3 but Emma Wood quickly levelled again 4 – 4. Tomlinson Equine managed to find another goal in the third and tensions mounted as both teams fought for a place in the Semi Finals. It was in the fourth when Tamara out foxed the Tafia Mafia defences to secure the Tomlinson Equine win 4 – 6.
Shibumi had a strong final league game against Strategic Help for Heroes. In the first chukka, young Ed Walker shot out like a rocket and scored multiple times, including a dramatic goal barely a second before the final bell. With Nina Clarkin’s expertly controlled goal for Strategic, the score finished 3 – 1 going into the second. Luke Wiles made it 4 – 1, followed shortly by a team goal neatly finished by Mark Baldwin, bringing the score to 5 – 1 at half time. Nina made it a double, 2 – 5 but Shibumi had the wind in their sails and the scoreboard read 7 – 2 heading to the fourth. As Matt Evetts took the ball out from the back line, Luke carried out a cheeky steal to score again 8 – 2. Strategic managed to find a further two goals but the bell rang at 8 goals to 4 and Shibumi were into the Semi Finals.
Following a horrendous downpour the day before, the clouds parted for the Semi Finals of the Wichenford Bowl. Louise Jebson was the first to score for CANI, followed by Ed Walker and Mark Baldwin making it 2 – 1 in favour of Shibumi. In the second, Ed chased the ball towards the goal for Mark to neatly finish but Matias Amaya kept CANI close behind with a huge hit that sent the ball soaring through the uprights. Expertly executed penalties by Seb and Mark saw the teams level 4 – 4 at the end of the third chukka. The fourth was a furious scrabble for possession, with both teams desperate to win a chance in the Final. Both finished the chukka empty handed so a fifth chukka was needed to decide the winner. Heated play followed, with the ball being run up and down the field. Eventually, Matias Amaya found a narrow gap in the Shibumi defences and scored, 5 – 4.
Tomlinson Equine looked to for a chance to reclaim last year’s title in their league game against Smiths Polo. Penalties and field goals ended the first half 2 – 2 ½ in Smiths’ favour. In the third, Nico took a penalty only to have it blocked before the goal mouth. However, Grant Collet claimed possession and finished the job, 3 ½ – 2. Grant then demonstrated his trademark big hit down the field and scored 4 – 2 ½. When Smiths scored again in the fourth chukka, 5 ½ – 2, it looked all over for Tomlinson Equine when a penalty and further goal by Mikey put them within striking distance. With less than three minutes left on the clock, Tomlinson Equine charged forward. However, they could not find the two goals needed to win and Smiths were into the Final.
On Saturday 22nd August, Tafia Mafia faced Strategic Help for Heroes in the Wichenford Bowl Subsidiary Final. Strategic were the first to get to the goal, only to have the ball struck away by Dave Allen. However, a penalty by Matt Evetts allowed them another chance and a further goal put them two goals ahead in the first chukka. Nina Clarkin made it 3 – 0 in the second, while a textbook penalty by Dave Allen made it 3 – 1 to conclude the second chukka. In the third, Dom David sent a backhand pass to Max Hutchinson, who picked up the ball and scored 3 – 2. A penalty 2 from the spot in favour of Strategic put Tafia Mafia on the back foot once again. They were given a chance to claw back the deficit with a penalty, but it went wide. Dave Allen then attempted an acute angled shot with a penalty 6, but it went wide again. In the fourth chukka Evetts brought the ball dangerously close to the goal, but Dave swept it away. However, Strategic then made it 5 – 2, further distancing themselves from the opposition. With little time on the clock, Tafia Mafia received a penalty, which Dave sent flying high in the sky, right onto the Chairman of the HPA’s car. Fortunately, it only left a minor dent but unfortunately, it also went wide and Strategic Help for Heroes were crowned the winners.
The No1 Field was to be stage for the Wichenford Bowl Final and looked like a glistening green carpet in the August sunshine. Smiths were first to add to the scoreboard, with Grant Collet belting through a penalty that nearly took out the heads of Ali and Phil, our dedicated timekeepers! Marcus Speed then chased the ball through the posts to make it 2 ½ – 0 and a goal by CANI made it 2 ½ – 1 at the end of the first chukka. CANI found another goal to inch closer on the scoreboard, but a cracking neck shot by Nico Antinori extended the lead for Smiths, 3 ½ – 2. In the third, CANI had a chance to regain ground with a penalty, but it was stopped by Nico, however, it was deemed to be a foul by the Umpires and Seb Chialvo was allowed to neatly send the ball over the line unopposed, 3 – 3 1/2. Nico had a chance to redeem himself with a 30yrd penalty, which he sent soaring through the air to make it 4 ½ – 3. The fourth chukka was where the real drama began, when Grant Collet sent a powerful hit up to Marcus, who elegantly brought the ball through the uprights to make it 5 ½ – 3. With about 3 minutes left on the clock, CANI needed to find three more goals to win. A spot penalty slotted in by Matias Amaya brought them closer, and with a minute to go Matias sent through another to make it 5 – 5 ½. However, with barely 20 seconds left on the clock, it looked like Smiths would be the victors. From the hit out, Seb urged his horse Cariñosa forward, chasing the ball down towards the goal. Lisa Smith was on his tail, but with five seconds on the clock it seemed like he had left it too late. He took the swing and sent the ball towards the goal mouth, where it rolled over the line with just two seconds left on the clock. CANI claimed the win in spectacular style over Smiths Polo. The Polo Times Best Playing Pony went to Matias Amaya’s spirited chestnut mare, Chicarra and players were treated to prizes kindly sponsored by NAF Equine, featuring their PROFEET range.