Chile applied merciless pressure to England during yesterday’s Coronation Cup at the 20th Cartier International Day, eventually beating the hosts 10-8.
The two countries were playing in front of a capacity crowd at Smith’s Lawn on Sunday. From their two previous Cartier meetings, each country had one win to their name, making the atmosphere all the more competitive.
The Chilean campaign, spearheaded by the Donoso brothers, Gabriel and Jose, got underway in the early chukkas, and having lead from the start, some superb play by Jaime Huidobro in the third chukka put the foreigners well ahead at 6-4.
Treading-in, it seems, was England’s moment of truth. They came back a rallied force, and spent the next two chukkas stealing their way back into the game. Long hits and hard ride-offs were the essence of the English attack, with the Donoso duo only rarely able to take advantage of gaps in the English defence.
The final chukka, however, saw England’s undoing. An early foul by the home team gave Chile an easy goal, pushing them 9-7 ahead, and as the tension began to take its toll, yet another mistake by England drove the nail into their coffin.
In spite of a superb charge down the field by English captain Henry Brett, somewhat lessening their humiliation, the clock stopped at 10-8.
The breakdown of Chilean goals told it’s sorry tale, with six out of the ten scored from penalties messy English play ultimately giving the game away. Chilean captain Gabriel Donoso was clear however, that this was as much down to the victors as the vanquished:
“We put a lot of pressure on England, and we played as cleanly as we could,” he said. “We were very disciplined, we were lucky, and we played well as a team.”
He added generously that England were “maybe unlucky in a couple of places not to be able to turn the game around.”
Henry Brett was less convinced that the better team had won. The performance England had produced early in the second half was a better indication of their true potential, he explained, even though they had failed to keep it up:
“We managed to get a bit of momentum going in the fourth and fifth, which we didn’t have at all at the beginning,” he said. “We put more pressure on them, we got back into the game, but then we let them win!”
Brett’s pony Glitter, whom he played in the third and sixth chukkas, was awarded the prize for best playing pony of the match, while old-timer Gabriel Donoso, who has been a member of the Chilean team on both previous occasions that there countries have met on Cartier day, was awarded the Cartier Pegasus Trophy for the most valuable player of the match.
England: Will Lucas (6), Mark Tomlinson (7), Henry Brett (8, captain), Luke Tomlinson (6)
Chile: Alejandro Vial (4), Jose Donoso (8), Gabriel Donoso (8, captain), Jaime Huidobro (7)