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Hawke’s Bay win thrilling Cup final

In one of the most thrilling finals seen at Bushmere Polo Grounds in years, Hawke's Bay A beat Poverty Bay A 10-9 after extra time at the weekend.

It earned them the premier trophy of the tournament — the Poverty Bay & East Coast Challenge Cup.

Presented in 1905, this cup is always keenly contested, but as only two teams were competing for it in the 6-goal grade this year, a novel approach was taken.

Instead of playing two separate four-chukker games, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, the teams played one game over two days.

At the end of the fourth chukker on Saturday, Hawke's Bay led Harvest Matawhero Transport Poverty Bay 6-5 at the end of the 4th chukker.

Starting a goal behind on Sunday, Poverty Bay were first to score, through captain Glen Armstrong. Another by Armstrong and one by his No.2 Cody Clark in the second chukker had Poverty Bay in the lead, 8-6 at the halftime stage.

Armstrong and Hawke's Bay captain and 5-goal player Jonny Coddington both scored in the third.

Going into the 4th and final chukker, Poverty Bay were in with a good chance, leading 9-7.

“Woody” Kururangi, the very promising Hawke's Bay 1-goaler, excelled in the fourth, feeding off Coddington's outstanding hitting, and scored twice to tie up the scores at nine apiece at the end of normal time.

Extra time was needed, so into the fifth chukker both teams went, hoping their all-important horse power would hold up. With a sudden-death format, whoever scored first would win the game and HB gained the ascendancy.

Again feeding off brilliant play from Coddington, young Kururangi sealed the game with the final goal to give his side a 10-9 victory.

Although the home side were disappointed, the crowd felt good having seen a very exciting display of 6-goal polo by both teams.

Poverty Bay were ably led by Armstrong and his deputy Clark. They were well supported throughout by teammates Rob Telfer and Burne McNeil. Both on 0 goals, they could be well pleased with their individual efforts and contribution to the match. McNeil had a particularly hard job of marking the elusive Coddington and for parts of the match succeeded in rattling the 5-goaler with some solid “coasty” ride-offs.

The other two HB players, Fred Coates and Scott Jolly, had very good games, paving the way for stars Kururangi and Coddington to shine.

In the other finals, the 0-goal Tom Lane Property Brokers grade, Hawke's Bay C beat Hawke's Bay B 9-3 in what was probably an upset but with “Woody” Kururangi doubling for that side, too, with teammates Victoria Muir, Bill Glazebrook and Lucy Coddington. They never looked like losing and dominated from start to finish.

Glazebrook was in fine form, scoring four goals. Lucy Coddington scored three and Kururangi, two.

For the HB B team of Jared and Philip Thompson, and Pete and Julia Hyslop, Jared scored twice and Philip once. It's worth mentioning that Philip, a former 5-goal Savile Cup winner for Hawke's Bay, still had all the goods at 73 years of age and playing on 0 goals. But his experience was not enough on the day.

The Poverty Bay team of Jessie McNeil, Matt McLaurin, Fern McIldowie and captain Neville Clark looked promising on Saturday but fell off in the fourth chukker against Hawke's Bay B, losing narrowly 3-2. Unfortunately they never hit their straps on Sunday, being well beaten by the Wanstead B side of Nick and Simon Coddington, Ethan Nesbitt and Kate Ward 7-2.

In the Kirkpatrick Farm Feeds low-goal section, three teams competed in round-robin matches over the two days, with Hawke's Bay D running out the winners on accumulated points. Birchleigh were runners-up and Poverty Bay C were third.

Gussie Gould, Becky Withers, Jonty Apatu and Jared Thompson completed the winning team and Sam Glazebrook, Angus and Izzy Kelsey, and Marcus Shanks fronted for Birchleigh. Anne-Marie Cavanagh, Jenny Shanks, Scott McNeil and Campbell Chrisp wore the PB C shirts.

Jonny Coddington overall was outstanding and was a well-deserved Player of the Tournament. He looked to still have enough talent to go further up the goal rating beyond 5.

The Champion Team of Ponies” was won by “Woody” Kururangi. The Ngati Porou boy by origin is being nurtured well by Hawke's Bay.

' Before the final on Sunday, both teams lined up in front of the grandstand on their horses while a moment of silence was held in respect of former Poverty Bay polo star Guy Kirkpatrick, who died in a farm accident in Australia. Cody Clark led the “riderless horse” (polo pony complete with tack and a player's helmet strapped to the saddle) around the field.

Clean contact: Poverty Bay C player Anne-Marie Cavanagh gets clean contact with the ball as Sam Glazebrook, of Birchleigh, prepares to give chase in the Poverty Bay Open polo tournament at Bushmere Polo Grounds at the weekend. Pictures by Paul Rickard
Polo action: Poverty Bay's Burne McNeil (nearest camera) plays a difficult shot under pressure from Hawke's Bay's Jonny Coddington (left) in the two-day final between Poverty Bay A and Hawke's Bay A at Bushmere Polo Grounds at the weekend. Hawke's Bay won the Poverty Bay & East Coast Challenge Cup 10-9 after extra time.
Raising dust: Becky Withers, of Hawke's Bay D, gets to the ball just ahead of Fred Coates, of Birchleigh, in polo action at Bushmere over the weekend.