Last Saturday the Melbourne polo players held the two-on-two Fight Like Hell Melbournament at the Princess Hill court. Last summerís Saturday games were held here, but probably half of the dayís players started this year. There were seven pairs registered for the 10 minute, first to three, round robin games and 15 min single elimination finals:
ZQKFX ::: <AJ.Vive>
Tap Tap ::: <Damon.Ray>
Stop the Rott ::: <Scott.Rob>
Wreck n Ruin ::: <Caff.Sam>
Jailbreakers ::: <Lorry.Paddy>
We Were Expecting Horses ::: <Nick.James>
Borries ::: <Bart.keZ>
It was great to see the Jailbreakers take time out of their busy (prison) schedule to represent, but Castlemaine canít be that bad if they play polo there. I arrived late and without any planned teammate, but fortunately Bart was arriving later even than me and without an offsider too (if only we had decided on a title before someone named us Borries!). Viveís mate Edryan was nice enough to bring some wood from Flagstaff to ensure the little edging we needed was of a suitable and consistent standard. Tap Tap would be looking to continue their winning streak (normally playing with Pete, who took mascot duties), while Sam, riding the Green Machine, was looking to show off his new yellow chain.
Unfortunately the yellow chain didnít even complete the first game and the mascot had to be called to interrupt the beer run to picking up a replacement. It was decided that a pink one might work better. TT, WXH and STR showed strong form at the start, with early games proving that utilizing the extra space and keeping pressure on the ball carrier were necessary requisites to a successful team strategy. The stationary goalkeeping recently employed with some success by a few of the (three player) teams wasnít going to suffice. This was obvious when Borries got crushed by STR in their first game, with Rob being particularly accurate with some quality early goals through Bartís defenses.
Tap Tap may have been favourites, but STR showed that they wouldnít have everything their own way by holding them to a 1-1 draw in their first game with a last second goal by scott, like a bomb defuser in a hollywood movie. Two points were offered for a win, a point shared for a draw and any tie being broken by goals scored/conceded. The two on two format made for some exciting individual efforts to defeat direct opponents. The accuracy of Damonís shot from distance was clinical, while the strength and speed of Nickís game made WXH the initial dark horses.
One of the goals of the tournament came in the game between WNR and ZQPTSX when Caff passed under a wheel to Sam who gently shot backhanded under pressure to score from a crazy angle. This brought the crowd to life and following a cautious beginning, the players began to warm up to the task too. One of the games of the tournament came when Jailbreakers met ZKXPTFJT. After an early goal, play continued under intense pressure, with easy shots hard to find. With only a few minutes remaining, Lorry scored to tie the game at 1-1. The crowd counted down from ten seconds. AJ collected the ball with close attention from Laury and as the crowd yelled ďTWOĒ, launched his mallet at the ball. Before having a chance to call time, the crowd erupted in delight as the ball sailed through the witches hats and AJ held his mallet aloft victorious!
The top four teams would play off to determine the winner, and following some polo mathematics they were TT, Borries, STR and WXH to play 15 minute first to 5 games. WXH fought gallantly but TT finally found their passing mojo and managed to hold them off. By some minor miracle, the Borries fluked our semi-final against STR. We went down a goal early, but Bart and I combined well, creating space and shepherding opponents. It helped that I actually shot accurately a few times, but mostly I think we got lucky – Robís arm was so restricted from an earlier crash he couldnít even lift a beer to his mouth after the game!
So TT would meet the Borries in the final. I donít recall much about it. I remember losing the ball a couple of times when the ball didnít roll my way, and not shooting as well as I did in the semi. Iím fairly sure we didnít give away any easy goals, and Bart stood strong in defense, so we took the fight up to TT, but they were too good and deserved winners by 4-1. As you can see from the group photo, a great day was had by all.
A few additional words must be recorded – Happy Birthday to Scott and James and thanks to Caff for baking the chocolate&guiness cake. Thanks to Edryan for shifting the wood with Vive. Thanks to our mascot for the beers and chain, but boo for not playing!
1st. Tap Tap
3rd. Stop The Rot