It was a game of upsets and triumph on day four of the World Elephant Polo Championships. The division two teams battled it out in the morning, determining who would go through to the Olympic Quaiche, while the seasoned professionals took to the field in the afternoon, playing for a spot in the WEPA final.
The Rusty Kukris were delivered the first shock of the day, going down to the in-form Mel’s Angels. The Kurkis looked strong in the first chukka, scoring four goals to the Angels’ one. Their strong attack led by Tristan Forster took them to a 5-3 lead at half time, when considering the starting handicap. The Angel’s, with the advantage of faster elephants in the second half, scored two goals within the first five minutes. The Kukris’ played extremely well in defence but Tony Papalia, found the gaps once inside the goal shooting D-ring. Marco Nichols- Marcy secured Mel’s Angels finals dreams scoring two goals in the closing minute, rounding the score to 7-5.
In Afghanifants, still to win a game, surprised even themselves, knocking out the Pukka Chukkas in the second match of the day. Although the Pukka Chukka’s scored four goals to the Afghanifants two, Rebekah Bell, the steadfast captain of the Afganifants, ensured her team remained in the game, managing a goal in extra time to take the score to 5-4 before the break. Sinisa Majdak leveled the score with the first goal to the Afghaniphants in second half. The veteran Chukka’s didn’t have it in them, and the Afghanifants swooped into the Olympic Quaiche final, much to the delight of the boisterous crowd.
The match of the day was a battle of the families, with Tigresses’ Polo coming up against the Tiger Tops Tuskers. The game began with a handicap of 3 to the Tigresses’ and 2 to the Tuskers. It was tit-for-tat in the first chukka, with each team scoring one after the other. Stine Edwards and Sam Prentice led the attack for the Tigresses’, while Kristjan Edwards shot a skillful four goals to keep the scores level at six a piece heading into the second half. But it wasn’t enough to keep the all women’s team at bay. Caroline Syangbo opened the rush of Tigresses’ goals in the second half, Stine scored two incredible long shots and Lucy Monro ensured the Tigresses’ 9-6 victory.
Taking to a very dusty field, the two time reigning world polo champions, EFG Switzerland, were up against the seemingly unstoppable Gengis Khan’s from Mongolia Polo Club. The agenda was evident from the start – EFG had a title to reclaim and the Mongolians had something to prove! The game started with a 5-4 handicap in favour of the Gengis Khan. Chuka was quick to capitalize scoring three successive goals for the Mongolians. Two elephants inside the scoring D-ring afforded Sangjay an easy penalty shot, narrowing the score to a three-goal difference.
After the break, James Manclark inspired his team with a beautiful shot outside the D-ring, followed by another from Nigel Lea. The difference was only one and it looked to be anyone’s game. But as Bata came out of defence into the midfield, the Mongolians took control. Dovchin Tseveldorj and Chuluunbaatar Urtnasan are an elephant polo force to be reckoned with. Scoring a goal each minute, the pair took the Mongolians to a runaway 14-8 win, and ensured a place in their first WEPA championship match.
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