Team Astra back on top in the Masters

The two-day tournament saw Team Astra crowned the winners of the Playnation Arena Polo Masters 

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The annual Playnation Arena Polo Masters Tournament (12-13 January) at the All England Polo Club, Hickstead, resulted in a win for Team Astra, following their victory in the inaugural fixture in 2017. 

The final provided a superb finish to what had been a fun and competitive weekend. It started on Friday night with the draw for the tournament and supper in the Polo Clubhouse. The following day saw Team Playnation take on Team Astra in the first game. A narrow victory for Team Astra put Simon and Joseph Arber along with Tom Morley into the final - though they had to wait to see who they would play against when Team Bell-Fruit Games played Team Gamestec.

The second game was hard-fought and ended in a win for Team Gamestec, putting Ana Escobedo, Nell Jacob and Jonny Good into the Final. Another wonderful night followed at the Ockenden Manor Hotel.

On the Sunday, John Bunn, Guy Harrison and Seb Dawnay of Team Playnation opened the day, just missing out during an open and fast game against Team Bell-Fruit Games with Romilla Arber, Manny Arber and Max Charlton. The tempo of this game set the tone for the day and the final.

Team Gamestec started with a one goal head start on handicap, with Niall Donnelly and Chris Bethell officiating. There was a lot of pressure from Team Astra, but Nell Jacob got on the end of a deflection and finished really well to put her team two goals up. More furious action followed but the first chukka ended 3-3. 

From the first line out in the second chukka, Simon Arber won the ball and converted a great goal. Tom Morley then unusually missed a 15 yard penalty which let Team Gamestec off the hook. Goals from Joe Arber and Tom Morley then put Team Astra up by three goals but a goal from Jonny Good and a penalty reduced the deficit to one at half time.

Nell Jacob and Jonny Good scored quick goals at the start of the third chukka, putting Team Gamestec into the lead. Another 15 yard penalty missed by Tom Morley kept Team Gamestec up. Joe Arber then collected the ball, coming across the arena and powered around the Gamestec defence to even the score. Team Astra then scored another two unanswered goals to finish the chukka leading 10-7.

Tom Morley and Joe Arber started the fourth chukka with a brace of two pointers to put their team up by seven. Jonny Good replied with a 15 yard penalty. Strong defensive play from Simon Arber and Ana Escobedo meant the scores didn’t change for a long period in the chukka. Jonny Good finally broke the game’s drought of goals with a cracking nearside neck shot. There was some debate as to whether it was worth one or two goals but eventually the officials ruled it was only worth one. Finally, Tom Morley managed to convert a 15 yard penalty to restore Team Astra’s six goal lead.

Lee Jefferson from Playnation presented the trophy and prizes to the winners and runners up, followed by a celebratory lunch for over 80 guests. Now in its third year, this tournament has already become a highlight of the polo winter calendar.

 

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