By Alex Webbe
Two Wednesday matches in the 2017Jaeger-LeCoultre Gold Cup wrapped up the preliminary rounds of play and set the stage for the weekend’s quarterfinals.
In Wednesday’s opening contest, El Remanso (Charlie Hanbury, Oliver Cudmore, James Beim and James Harper) edged King Power Foxes (Top Srivaddhanaprabha, Jimbo Fewster, Gonzalito Pieres and Facundo Pieres), 9-8 while Habtoor (Mohammed Al Habtoor, Nicolas Pieres, Francisco Elizalde and Paco O’Dwyer) battled their way to a decisive 12-9 win over La Bamba de Areco (Jean Francois Decaux, Diego Cavanagh, Magoo Laprida and Rodrigo Rueda, Jr.) at the Cowdray Park Polo Club.
El Remanso team captain Charlie Hanbury scored the first goal of the day in the opening game. Ensuing goals from Ollie Cudmore and James Beim gave El Remanso a 3-1 lead with Gonzalito Pieres accounting for the only King Power goal of the first chukker.
Facundo Pieres exploded for three straight goals in second period play that boosted King Power into the lead, 4-3. Beim and Hanbury added single goals to end the period with El Remanso defending a fragile 5-4 lead.
Both defenses bore down in third period action, with shots on goal going wide or being deflected away from the goal. Facundo Pieres scored the only goal of the chukker, tying the game at 5-5 to end the first half.
Fourth chukker goals from Beim and Cudmore were supported by shutout defense as El Remanso moved out to a two-goal lead. King Power was held scoreless and fell behind by two goals, 7-5.
Both defenses were at their best as the game continued into the fifth period. King Power team captain, Top Srivaddhanaprabha, accounted for the only goal of the chukker. Five periods of play, King Power continued to trail, 7-6.
Sixth chukker goals from Cudmore and James Harper had El Remanso on top, 9-6 in the final chukker of play when King Power rallied. Goals from Facundo Pieres and Gonzalito Pieres brought King Power to within a goal of the lead as time expired. El Remanso improved their record to 3-1 with the 9-8 win.
A balanced El Remanso attack had Beim and Cudmore leading the parade with three goals apiece. Hanbury added two goals and Harper scored once for the win. Facundo Pieres scored five times for King Power. Gonzalito Pieres was credited with two goals and Srivaddhanaprabha scored once in the loss
Habtoor 12, La Bamba de Areco 9
In the second game of the day, Habtoor relied on the scoring power of Nico Pieres who led the way to a 12-9 victory over La Bamba de Areco on the strength of seven goals on the day.
La Bamba de Areco’s Diego Cavanagh looked like a world-beater in the opening minutes of the match as he rang up three straight goals. Nico Pieres converted a pair of penalty shots and teammate Guillermo Terrera scored the final goal of the chukker. The early lead belonged to La Bamba de Areco, 4-2.
Second chukker goals from Pieres and Francisco Elizalde tie d the game at 4-4 as the Habtoor offense continued to assert itself. A goal from Paco O’Dwyer was followed by a second goal from Pieres for a 6-4 Habtoor advantage.
Smothering defenses from both teams kept third chukker scoring to a minimum. Cavanagh scored the only goal of the chukker on a 40-yard penalty conversion. At the end of the first half, Habtoor left the field on top of a 6-5 score.
O’Dwyer and Cavanagh traded goals in the fourth with both Habtoor and La Bamba de Areco dialing up the defense. After four periods, Habtoor continued to hold the lead, 7-6.
Three consecutive goals from Pieres opened the scoring in the fifth. Pieres scored his first goal from the field and added penalty goals from 40-yards and 30-yards as Habtoor stretched their lead to four goals, 10-6. Cavanagh notched the final goal of the chukker, but with one period remaining in regulation time, La Bamba de Areco trailed by three goals, 10-7.
Goals from Cavanagh and Terrera led the La Bamba de Areco sixth chukker rally, but the effort came up short. Trailing by a single goal, 10-9, their offense stalled. A pair of goals from Elizalde ended the game with Habtoor recording their first win of the tournament with the 12-9 victory.
Pieres scored seven times for Habtoor (four on penalty conversions). Elizalde scored three goals and O’Dwyer added two for the win. Cavanagh scored six of his team-high seven goals from the field whit Terrera adding two goals in the loss.
British Open play will continue with quarterfinal matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Teams and times to be announced.
Photos: Images of Polo.
To see all the teams and results click here