NZ Polo International 2013
Kihikihi Polo Club
Nga Rakau Ground
9th February 2013
New Zealand V South Africa
It was a glorious summer afternoon, 25 degrees with a slight cooling breeze. Paul & Jenny Kay’s Nga Rakau ground looked a picture, the side-lines filled with marquees, pavilions and umbrellas, and an expectant crowd.
South Africa had sent a young team, we saw 3 of the players in 2007 F.I.P. Zone D play-offs in a 14 goal team and now here they were, 5 years later, playing off 26 goals. Brothers Nachi and Jean du Plessis with Tom de Bruin and Duncan Watson, all under 25 years old, had looked very tidy in the practice games. New Zealand stayed with their seasoned campaigners, John-Paul Clarkin, Tommy Wilson and Sam Hopkinson, and added new representative at this level, Thomas Hunt.
The scene was set, Waipa District Mayor, Alan Livingstone, welcomed the teams and the ball was bowled in to start the match. South Africa scored first with a Jean du Plessis penalty. Tommy, John-Paul and Sam scored field goals and Jean converted another penalty to give NZ a 3 – 2 lead at the end of the first chukka.
Chukka 2 and the teams traded penalties, one to Jean and one from Tommy.
Chukka 3 was a goal festival, both teams scored 3 field goals each and another successful penalty taken by Jean du Plessis had the score tied 7 – 7 at half time.
The crowd flooded the pitch looking for divots but there were none so they ambled about chatting, seeing and being seen.
The half time team talks must have changed the mind-set of both teams as the game tightened up in the 4th chukka and no goals were scored.
South Africa scored the first 2 goals in the 5th giving them a 9 -7 lead which made the NZ supporters a little nervous but penalties from Tommy and John-Paul brought the score to 9 -9 at the end of the chukka.
Jean and Tommy traded penalties early in the 6th chukka so the score was still tied, side-line pundits started to think about extra time. There was a melee near half way when suddenly Sam Hopkinson broke free with the ball and ran to goal to give NZ the lead. The Africans came back hard but ran out of time and at the final bell the score was 11 – 10 to NZ. The crowds were delighted!
Jean du Plessis had 100% success with his penalty hits and was named man of the match. Andrew Parrott’s pony played by Nachi du Plessis was awarded the pony prize.
The curtain raiser match between the North Island and South Island Colts was won by the Southerners in a very fast match.