Champions Chile come to the party
Reigning champions Chile displayed their pedigree with a hard fought 9-2 victory over New Zealand on Sunday afternoon at Sydney Polo Club.
In a physical encounter which saw man marking and horse power bring intensity to the game, however it was the Chileans who could at times find a way through the New Zealand defence to ultimately win. New Zealand, headed by veteran Cody Forsyth, formerly 8 goals, showed all his experience to keep New Zealand in the game.
Chile scored four classy goals from counterattacks over the five chukkas, the first by Jose Zegers in the first chukka after a bold open forehand shot from distance. At times New Zealand hammered at the Chilean line – eight missed shots at goal and seven knock ins for Chile reflecting the pressure – the Kiwis struggled to break the Chilean defence, led by Alejandro Vidal.
Skipper Forsyth later said in the press conference that while the New Zealand players shot into horses, the Chileans found the gaps and were able to counter attack.
With the game swinging Chile’s way in the third chukka, Chile’s Zegers scored a sensational neck shot goal from 80 yards out. That chance came from a throw in – the overall throw-in count, was 15-11 to Chile but at one point was 14-7 – must have dented New Zealand’s resolve as the Chilean’s stretched their lead.
Zegers again pulled the trigger in the fourth chukka to seal the deal as he scored six of the team’s nine goals. It was a class performance from the number two, playing with the maximum handicap of five goals.
Both teams felt that the score line didn’t reflect the game – “we never felt in front except when looking at the scoreboard,” the Chileans graciously claimed after the game, but they appeared to have more firepower up front to seal the deal.
As the commentary team said, the horse power on display has set the bar for future FIP tournaments.