SUPA Arena Gold Cup.
It was a SUPA Polo Arena Gold Cup win at the Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club on Saturday 25 February. The 13 goal SUPA Polo team was made up of Robin Ormerod playing in the number one shirt off four goals, Sebastian Hancock in number two off three goals, and Harold Hodges in three playing off six goals. They were up against the 15 goal Sifani team (Hilali Noordeen the patron on 1 goal, Michael Henderson on 6 and Ryan Pemble on 8).
The stands were packed at the RCBPC with spectators that had enjoyed the earlier subsidiary matches for the Silver Cup and Bronze Cup. The weather was a rather typical grey wintry day, but everyone was well wrapped up and looking forward to watching the grand final.
The two goal handicap difference gave away a four goal head start on the scoreboard to SUPA. The game got underway and Henderson won a penalty for Sifani, but it was SUPA that scored first increasing their lead to five goals. Both teams gave away a penalty to each other and both Ormerod and Pemble put their shots wide, seemingly not yet having got their eye in. Sifani lost possession after taking a penalty from the centre and SUPA were quick to counter attack and scored. Sifani were battling hard in midfield to break through SUPA’s tight defense and open their account. Eventually the pressure told and Henderson won a penalty when Hodges missed a backhander and then obstructed Henderson. But the penalty was defended by Hodges who immediately ran the length of the arena and increased SUPA’s lead to seven goals. Sifani’s deficit was further increased when a pass from Pemble to Henderson was intercepted and the score increased to 8-0. It seemed as though the luck was against Sifani when a run by Pemble was unintentionally blocked by the referee, but fortunately Henderson was following up and succeeded in scoring the all important opening goal for Sifani, 8-1. The chukka ended with a 60 yard defended penalty awarded to Sifani, but the score remained the same.
The second chukka opened positively for Sifani with the team looking focused. They won the line out and Pemble showed his accuracy with a shot from the side of the arena that hit its mark, taking the score to 8-2. Again Sifani won possession and Pemble took a shot from even further out which leapt their score up to 8-4. Sifani were able to close the gap to three goals from a 30 yard penalty, but weren’t able to score again this chukka. Sifani were unable to convert a penalty into a goal awarded after a heavy challenge by Hancock on Henderson, and it was Ormerod who scored for SUPA from a penalty awarded against Pemble, 9-5. Sifani had one further chance this chukka but the ball was saved off the line.
Sifani came out for the third chukka with intent to level the scores and after a period of play Henderson won a 30 yard penalty and Pemble took the score to 9-6. The chukka was half way as it began to spit with rain. Sifani failed to score from a 60 yard penalty and SUPA’s counter attack again caught Sifani out, 10-6. But Sifani pulled themselves together and came back at SUPA. The pressure was too much for the SUPA defense and they gave away a penalty one. Both teams were frantic as they knew this final period of the chukka could be decisive. There were several stops of play for fouls, but it was only a foul on Henderson when he was running to goal that resulted in a penalty conversion. The score was now at 10-8. But thoughts from the Sifani supporters that they were going to catch SUPA in this chukka were quickly dashed when SUPA scored three successive goals, 13-8.
The fourth chukka opened with an attack on the Sifani goal, which was well defended by Pemble. Henderson and Noordeen had a run up the arena and were unlucky not to score, giving away a foul in frustration. Supa came at them from the penalty and a long range shot by Hancock increased their lead by a further two goals, 15-8. Though the game was looking beyond reach Sifani did not give up and pressured SUPA, scoring from two penalties, 15-10. With three minutes on the clock Hodges produced an impressive solo goal to the cheers of the SUPA supporters, 16-10. Unfortunately for Sifani they were unable to capitalize on any of their chances in the final minutes of the game. A sixty yard penalty was defended by Hodges, and Hancock foiled their best chance to score a goal. The chukka ended with Ormerod in possession, switching the play to Hodges who shot and scored, winning the Arena Gold Cup for SUPA with a score of 17-10.