RECORD crowds were drawn to Lions River on Sunday to watch their inaugural International polo match against India. The South African team took a convincing win of 12 - 5½.
Martin Watson, playing in the pivotal number three position, set the ball rolling with a goal in the first minute of the game. Another from Watson followed in the second chukka as well as one from Captain Tom de Bruin, offset by the Indian team’s first goal.
The third chukka saw a hat-trick of goals from Mike Osborn which gave South Africa a comfortable lead at half-time of 7 - 2½.
The Indian team battled valiantly in the second half with goals coming from their Captain Ravi Rathore and Gaurav Singh but the opposing team also gave away a few penalties.
Col Rathore was generous in his praise of the South Africans afterwards remarking on their astute teamwork in passing the ball and said his team had been more than happy with the quality of the ponies that had been lent to them by local players.
Man-of-the-Match, adjudicated by previous South African player and past President of the SA Polo Association, Mr Mike Rattray, was awarded to Mike Osborn. The Best Playing Pony prizes were awarded to “Wyzoo” owned by Rory Bryden and ridden by Colonel Ravi Rathore as well as “Clyde” owned by Ben Crowe and ridden by Siddhant Sharma.
The main curtain raiser was a thrilling match between Michaelhouse and Hilton teams consisting of old boys from these two schools. Having not led throughout the match Michaelhouse caught up to their age-old rivals in the last chukka and in the dying minute scored the winning goal to edge Hilton out 9-8.
The event was sponsored by Grindrod Bank, Jonsson Workwear, and SMG Jaguar Land Rover Pietermaritzburg. Mr Mark Davies, President of SAPA, said : “The day has been an unmitigated success and I hope will be repeated annually in the years to come.”