The England World Championship polo team had sensed for some time that their greatest opponents at the tournament would prove to be Brazil, the defending title-holders, with coach Claire Tomlinson warning that they would have to be on the alert from the outset, with their opening match against the South American giants.
And prepared they were. For although they conceded their first match to Brazil by just one goal, the English tenacity allowed the team to maintain a firm grasp of the competition.
In their second match, the Tom Morley-led English team had as big a battle with the weather as with their polo opponents Mexico. But used to the adversity of the English climate, they fared well in the match, beating the Mexicans by a resounding four goals, in spite of a long interruption to the match due to rain.
But it was the English defeat of Pakistan which was one of the most conclusive results of the tournament, and confirmed the team’s place in the semi-finals. Five-goaler James Harper took most of the spoils, scoring seven goals in star fashion, and proving a lynchpin of the 10-goal difference.
Claire Tomlinson’s brilliant coaching of the team continued to shine through in the semi-finals, where England faced Chile. Victory in this match was some consolation for their defeat by the South American team in the Cartier International earlier in the season.
It was a closely fought match until the third chukka, when England established a three-goal lead over their opponents. They held on to their lead for the rest of the match although the Chileans fought back bravely to reduce England’s lead to just one goal when the final whistle blew.
Meanwhile, in the second semi-final, France’s hopes were rapidly destroyed by Brazil’s superior play. In spite of a goalless first chukka, the Brazilian team settled into their stride and established an ever-increasing lead over the host nation. The final score was 9-4, which perhaps was not a fair reflection of the French play, which had produced some miraculous goals in pressured situations.
The final was an absolute thriller, with the result eventually decided in a sudden-death seventh chukka. Although Brazil slipped into an early lead, and looked to be running away with the title, in the third chukka England fought back, and the two teams were then level-pegging until the extra chukka.
The Brazilians broke the deadline in the extra seven minutes, proving themselves popular victors amongst the South American camp.