Sean Mc on Skynet

National League Finals in Wellington




This was the final weekend of the national league polo competition for 2008. As it was a long weekend (Queens Birthday on Monday) it allowed the organisers to schedule 3 days of games. Thankfully for us it was a long weekend as it's a 10 hour drive from Auckland to Wellington.
The problem with having so many games to schedule is that play must start early and finish late. On Saturday and Sunday the first games of the day were at 6am, and the last game finished at 12 midnight, play started at 6am on Monday too but finished a little earlier, 3pm, to allow people to travel home. Fortunately most people didn't need to be in the pool from 6am until midnight because the B-grade games were played until about 2pm and the A-grade games from then until midnight.

That's enough about the logistics, what about the polo? Well, the four Auckland teams were playing, 2 B-grade teams, 1 mens, A-grade and 1 womens A-grade team plus some Auckland players playing on other teams too.

For my team (Hammerheads) the was a slow day with only one game to play, at least we won that one. It would've been very annoying to play just one game and to lose it. We continued our wining ways on Sunday and won our remaining 3 group games, including the one against the other Auckland B-grade team. At the end of the group stage we were top of the group, no thanks to our flair and skill. We probably played some of the most boring polo ever! Our tactic was basically to get ahead early in the game and then to hold the ball for the remaining 15 minutes and only take a shot on goal if it was a clear chance. If we conceded a goal we reset and went for goal again before reverting back to our hold the ball tactic. Meanwhile the other Auckland teams were having mixed fortunes. Both A-grade teams finished in the lower half of their grades. Our good fortune didn't continue in the play off stages and we failed to win a single game, teams were ready for us this time and came out to attack us instead of sitting back and waiting for us to attack them(some chance of that happening). Our last game saw us play against the other Auckland B-grade team, Mako, for 7th and 8th places. Again we lost so yet again the policy of picking 2 evenly matched teams held true and we finised the whole league in consecutive placings.
The womens A-grade team finished 6th and the mens A-grade team finished 6th also.

With club players playing in all grades it was a very tiring weekend with early mornings and late nights, not to mention the long journey times each way.
For me it was a very enjoyable series of competitions and great to play a league competition instead of the more common stand-alone events that we have in Ireland. It would be good for polo in Ireland if we could have something similar but it's up to the teams to get off their asses and enter the league instead of complaining about not having a national league. Now back to Auckland for the week and back to Wellington next weekend to watch Ireland vs The All Blacks.

posted by SeanMc @ 9:09 AM,

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