Press Release

Hong Kong China to play England in the Grand Final of the Snow Polo World Cup 2016

30 January 2016, Tianjin China – Under snowy skies at China’s Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club, Hong Kong China triumphed over Chile by 8 goals to 7, and England defeated Argentina 5 – 4 to book their places in the Grand Final of the Snow Polo World Cup 2016. Chile and Argentina will fight it out for third place spoils.

Chile took on Hong Kong China in the first semifinal of the day, the South American trio of Francisco Martinez, Ignacio Vial and Alejandro Vial facing off against Henry Fisher, James Harper and Matias Vial.

Early Hong Kong China pressure gave the home side an opportunity from the spot, which Matias Vial rolled in to get the game pulsing. Harper and Vial were linking up well and causing problems for Chile, but the South American defense held firm, and it was Chile who scored next, courtesy of Alejandro Vial sliding the ball neatly between the posts.

Chile galloped themselves into a 3 – 1 at the start of the second chukka, forcing a penalty score and then getting the day’s first goal from open play – a devilish run along the boards and shot by Ignacio Vial. Their lead didn’t last, however; James Harper answering with a swift counterattacking goal just short of the three-minute mark. A goalmouth melee led to Chile bundling in another score, but the on-target Matias Vial closed the gap almost immediately for Hong Kong China with a well struck penalty to make it 4 – 4 at the halfway mark.

The most nail-bitingly tense game of the Snow Polo World Cup so far was unfolding on the South Field of the Tianjin Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club. Chile nosed ahead courtesy of Ignacio Vial after 60 seconds, before play stopped to give Hong Kong China’s James Harper the chance to seek treatment for a bop on the nose. With player and pony back on the field, play resumed, and it looked like Harper’s rest had done him good, the Hong Kong China number two dribbling the ball deftly passed defenders to make it 5 – 5.

Chile started to get the run of play as the chukka wore on, however, showing a touch more cohesion than the Hong Kong China trio. Alejandro Vial added another from the penalty spot, before Ignacio Vial fired up the afterburners to make it 7 – 5 to Chile with one chukka left to play.

For everything Hong Kong China threw at Chile in the final period, the plucky South Americans were somehow keeping the red jerseys at bay. The umpire had little cause to take the whistle from his mouth for most of a stop-start chukka where both sides pulled no punches forgave no quarter. But the home-side’s perseverance eventually told, Hong Kong China awarded a well-deserved penalty goal on the three-minute mark. Alejandro Vial then had the opportunity to restore Chile’s two-goal cushion, but he was left ruing a wayward shot that sailed high and wide. Soon after it looked like Harper had scored a fine goal coming in from the boards but the whistle had already gone. Fortunately Matias Vialkept his nerve to thump in the resultant penalty and level the scores at 7 – 7.

A tie meant a seventh ‘golden goal’ chukka would be played for the first time so far in the Snow Polo World Cup 2016, the team to score first claiming victory. The polo was breathless to the point of surreal from the off; at one stage, Hong Kong China’s James Harper found himself dribbling the ball towards goal with the strap end of a broken stick. In the end, it was a penalty that decided the day, Hong Kong China’s James Harper smacking home the winning goal to make it 8 – 7 and putting his side through to the Grand Final.

Contesting the second semi-final of the day were the Argentinian trio of Bautista Arrastua, Horacio Fernandez Llorente and Gonzalo Del Rio against an England team starring Alastair Peterson, George Meyrick and Jack Richardson.

It was the white jerseys of England that were fastest out of the blocks in the opening chukka, George Meyrick finishing off an explosive Jack Richardson attack to score within thirty seconds. Argentina responded in characteristically elegant style, Gonzalo del Rio gliding toward the England goal to practically tango the ball between the posts to bring his side level. But the more bullish style of the English was bearing fruit too, Alastair Peterson winning a penalty, which Jack Richardson popped in with aplomb.

The match was too close to call in the second chukka, Argentina leveling from the penalty spot after four minutes, and England’s George Meyrick putting a fine shot inches wide at the bell; the score 2 – 2 at half time.

England spurned a great chance to go ahead at the start of the third, George Meyrick jabbing his shot wide of an unguarded goal, but their efforts were rewarded just past the three minute mark with Alastair Paterson nudging in a viciously struck Jack Richardson drive to make it 3 – 2. Argentina’s attacking intent paid off moments later, Bautista Arrastua getting on the right side of his marker to set up Llorente to score. But the pressure was back on Argentina going into the final period, as England number three Jack Richardson kept his cool to thump in a textbook penalty to close out the chukka.

This semi-final was always going to be a game won or lost by fine margins; Argentina’s Gonzalo Del Rio knew the script as he equalized with a penalty to make it 4 – 4 after half a minute. But so did Jack Richardson, on target once again from the penalty spot to put England ahead soon after. Five minutes of hard-fought polo followed, with England just claiming the lion’s share of attacking play. Argentina harried and pressed but ultimately to do what Hong Kong China had done and force a seventh chukka.

The Grand Final of the Snow Polo World Cup 2016 will take place tomorrow, with Hong Kong China taking on England. Chile and Argentina will be battling it out in the Subsidiary Final.