Competition intensified on day two of the World Elephant Polo Championships, with four low scoring matches but thrilling nailing biting finishes. After yesterday’s warm-up, players are more confident maneuvering their elephants, bringing skill and precision to the sport.
The polo field was glistening with morning dew as the first two teams, the Afghanifants and Rusty Kukris, mounted their elephants. The Rusty Kukris made an early break scoring two easy goals in the opening minutes. The heavy morning field slowed down play until the Afghanifant’s scored their first goal of the match and indeed of the tournament. Spurred on by the crowd, the Afghanifants scored another goal on half time, to take the score to 4-4 (remembering the handicap system in place). The Rusty’s were quick to respond with three successive goals in the second half, the final score in their favour 7-5.
In the next game, Mel’s Angels provided one of the biggest upsets of the tournament, challenging the dominance of EFG Switzerland. EFG’s captain, James Manclark, put them on the board early in the piece, after which Mel’s Angels stole the show. Tony Papalia did a superb job in defence for the Angels, shutting down Sangjay who managed only one goal in the second half. In the closing minutes, the Angels shot through with a powerful backhand pass by Marco Nichols-Marcy. Despite Manclark’s steady defence, Tom Tuke-Hastings trickled the ball through the goals in the closing seconds resulting in a 6-6 draw. EFG Switzerland will have to pick up their game tomorrow if they are to beat the Tiger Tops Tuskers and seek victory for their third consecutive year.
The tight competition continued into the afternoon when Tigresses’ Polo bared their claws against the Chinggis Khaan Mongolian elephant polo team. Considering both teams’ runaway victories in yesterday’s games, it was always going to be a tough one. The Chinggis Khaan’s opened the scoring with two quick goals, but the Tigresses’ soon found their feet with a goal. A strategic move to place Sam Prentis and her quick elephant into defence, left Stina Edwards and Carolyn Syangbo to control the middle. Both ladies played with vigorous determination, preventing the Mongolian’s from extending their lead. A change of elephants after half time saw the Chinggis Khaan score three quick goals, despite strong and consistent defence. Sam scored for the Tigresses’ and maintained strong defence to prevent the Chinggis Khaan scoring after the final bell had rung.
The Tiger Tops Tuskers and the Pukka Chukka’s rounded out the field one the second day of play, with a close match as the sun was settling low over the jungle. It was a tough tussle for the Tuskers to ensure a 7-5 victory, the Pukka Chukka’s putting up strong defence.