Polocrosse World Cup results - UK Dashed NZ Hopes Of Final.
The NZ Polocrosse team of Tony Schrafft (Captain) Sue Gower, Megan Staples, Cally and Casey Mullany, Dean Gower, Shane Hill, Kane Matthews and travelling reserves Tracey Swan and Rick Murray left NZ on April 16th in their bid for the Ridley Polocrosse World Cup which was played in Warwick Queensland Australia from April 23rd - 29th. The team got off to a good start beating Ireland 26-12 in their first game. NZ dominated nearly the entire game but the Irish women won chukka 3 with an impressive display of polocrosse. NZ's experience showed through in the rest of the chukkas.
The second game against Canada was as expected, with a win of 28-2. Canada has only 20 - 25 polocrosse players and eight of them were at the World Cup, so the NZ players were quite comfortable in their win. A moment of great sportsmanship was shown in the fourth chukka when NZ's Dean Gower saved his opposition No. 1 Sean McArthur from a certain spill. McArthur's horse reared and Gower, who had possession of the ball, leaned across and held McArthur, keeping him in the saddle and allowing him time to regain control of his horse.
The night game against South Africa was perhaps one of the most exciting polocrosse games of the tournament. As the seats filled, the atmosphere was electric and when the New Zealand supporters performed the haka, the crowd went wild. It was a very even game until the 5th chukka when the NZ women - Casey Mullany, Megan Staples and Sue Gower - skipped ahead and led 13 - 9. The men came out in their final chukka and South Africa put on four quick goals and tied it to 13 all. In the dying moments of chukka six Charl Du Plessis, sharp shooter for South Africa, had the chance to steal victory but he missed the goal! The women came back on for the golden goal and NZ's Casey Mullany was the hero of the evening, taking the game for the Kiwis 14-13.
The game against the United Kingdom was played in damp cool conditions in front of a very enthusiastic and vocal crowd. Described as "the boilover" of the tournament, United Kingdom defeated the well-regarded NZ side by six goals and secured the UK's spot in the World Cup final. The NZ team started the game in good form winning the first chukka four - one but after that their game went downhill. The Brits levelled the scores after chukka three and from there on, the Kiwis could not head them off.
NZ Captain Tony Schrafft said "We came here to win and we are obviously disappointed but the bounce of the ball just did not go our way. It was not a horsepower issue; the nature of the tournament is that you work with what you have. The UK players were quick onto the ball and I thought Guy Robertson for the Englishmen played extremely well."
Following NZ's defeat by the Brits and the South African defeat by Australia, the NZ side faced South Africa again for third and fourth play off. As expected, these two teams, so close in competition, provided the World Cup audiences with the most exciting of polocrosse across the entire tournament. The final of the second division saw a momentous tussle between NZ defence Shane Hill and South African goal shoot Charl Du Plessis. Both endeared themselves to the huge crowd with brave play in centre field and the goal scoring area. The NZ team remained unchanged throughout the match, while there were minor changes to the South Africa women. At the beginning of the eighth and final chukka the crowd went berserk when the scores were still level. This time the ball went to South Africa and the result was the opposite of their previous clash. Final score 21 - 20. Over both games, both teams scored 34 goals each which shows the closeness of the competition.
At prize giving, the cheers were loud and long when in the words of the commentator, 'crowd favourite' Shane Hill was announced as Best Male Player Second Division. Shane also won Best Playing Horse Male Section with the horse he rode, 'Magic'. Further success for the Kiwi side when Troy Henry's mount 'Edenhope Flame' ridden by Dean Gower won Best ASH (Australian Stock Horse) Male Section and 'Palmers Impala' ridden by Cally Mullany won Best Playing Horse Female Section and Best ASH Female Section.
Hats off to the Aussies in the World Cup final against United Kingdom. Early chukkas set the scene for a dominant Australian performance. The Australians on their home grounds were far too strong in the final and had a convincing win over the UK team who had really played above themselves to reach the final. The final score was 36 - 13.
Zimbabwe and Ireland had both come through the round robin competition to face each other for fifth and sixth places. Despite a second half comeback by a gallant Ireland team Zimbabwe was too strong winning the match 21:11.Zimbabwe well and truly wrapped up the game in chukka six with five goals from Shannon Burbidge.
The play off for seventh and eighth places was between USA and Canada. This was the first time Canada had played on grass since October as snow meant they had to practice indoors. For the first four chukkas the scores were level pegging then in chukka five a good fight back by the Canadian women saw the scoreboard on 10:9. USA answered back in the sixth chukka with five goals to Canada's one securing the spot for stars and stripes. Final score 14-11. Captain of the NZ team Tony Schrafft said of the tournament, "It's been a fantastic tournament with some great games. We came here to win and it didn't happen but that's sport. It is the highlight of a polocrosse career to come to the World Cup and be part of such a professionally run tournament. As a country we're looking forward to 2011. We have some good young players in NZ who will hopefully rise to the challenge."
The World Cup in 2011 will be held in the United Kingdom.