A little apprehensive about what Her Majesties Navy could throw at us, a strong team was assembled for the first round of this Hampshire handicap cup tie. On the morning I was fearing a little bit that we’d have to face them with only 7 men, but thankfully on the night 12 of SUWPC’s finest had assembled ready to face the enemy, including Jan and Perry who were playing through suspected broken arms, what lads. Defence budget cuts are evidently hitting hard, as the seamen could only muster 7 to face our destroyers.
With Horlock back in his natural habitat for the seconds, victory in the swim off was assured. So it proved, with the ball immediately coming back to him, a quick shot and a swift 1-0 lead was established. I managed to once again get majored in the first quarter, but thankfully the Navy couldn’t capitalise. I jumped back in and grabbed a goal. The Navy retaliated with 2 of their own through their number 7, who was honestly their only really decent player. He was staying forward to spring on the attack quickly, but he was for the most part handled superbly by our resident bouncer. 2-2 end of first quarter.
This was by no means a classic game. We for the most part had a huge pace advantage over them, leading to a lot of over the top balls and a fair few chances to get one on one with the keeper. Conal in particular must have been through several dozen times in the first quarter, but conspired to miss every shot.
The second quarter continued in the same fashion. We were attacking the shallow this time, but were still managing to outpace the navy and get a few men in on goal. Phil scored a really lovely signature backshot, it was absolutely philthy. I grabbed another but can’t really remember how. I’m going to assume it was absolutely incredible and I’ve got amnesia from the awesomeness (or something). Perry scored two nicely taken efforts, then I had another shot that bounced off the inside upright ergo not counting. Infuriating. Conal missed many more shots. We managed to restrict the Navy to one goal, once again coming from their number 7. 6-3 half time.
Third quarter meant us attacking the deep again, and we carried on much the same way. Conal finally found his scoring touch and scored twice, I got another and Horlock weighed in with a fourth. We got back quickly not allowing their number 7 to use his pace on the break. He did manage to grab a goal though. I took a push shot that hit the bar and bounced down, which definitely crossed the line. Not so according to the refs, can’t say I was ecstatic with that decision. Lawrence took a shot from his goal towards the end of the quarter that ended up going high wide and handsome. He’d taken it so bloody early though they then had time to shoot at Lawrence from distance, who then still had enough time to retrieve the ball and have another shot. It was better, but was comfortably saved. 10-4 end of third quarter.
The last quarter was pretty exciting, but was slightly calamitous from our point of view. Christian got himself wrapped, but didn’t realise for a good few minutes. Without our pit defence linchpin, the Navy grabbed 3 goals (all from number 7 of course). I scored a bit of a slap in the shallow end from a nice Horlock cross, and apparently we scored another at some point but I don’t remember who it came from or when (if anyone would like to take credit?). Conal very kindly added it to my tally, quintupling my previous best goals in a single game tally. Final score 12- 7.
By the way the Navy had an eight goal head start so we got knocked out. What a stupid competition. While not a great game from a polo perspective, we got a good workout and produced some solid performances. We also had the chance to notch up some goals which is always a nice feeling. And whatever the Hampshire League say, I’m counting this as a win. Hopefully it will be the first of many.
Many thanks to the boys who played, and thanks to the girls who stayed to watch and who did the table.