The match of the day on the second day of the world cup was probably the battle between Zambia and the USA, which was a lot closer than people thought it would be. Zambian started the stronger and after two chukkas lead by 8 goals to 4, mainly thanks to Mikey Krynauw cleaning out ball after ball at the front of the lineout in the second chukka. He won about five balls in a row at the front and the USA were left reeling. However, their ladies came back on and pulled it back to 9-7 with some strong play from Dori Johnson and they also had a free shot at goal right at the end of the chukka which their men duly converted when they returned to the field to make it 9-8. That sparked a great chukka for the USA men as they surged past the Zambian men to make it 13-11. They had to work hard for it but Braxton Hamlin won ball out the back, even with Damien Harris snapping at his heels and Seth Alcott got some revenge when he took one ball off the front against Mikey Krynauw. Zambian were swinging hard and Mikey Krynauw gave away a free goal with a big body shot on Braxton Hamlin but the USA men took it all and held their nerve.
However, Zambia’s ladies came back on in the fifth with a desire to seek revenge for the third chukka and they duly delivered. Audrey Logan and Kelly Krynauw grabbed a lot of ball for them and they took nearly all their chances. The USA had a couple of chances but they were dispossessed by tough defence, though they did add one goal at the end of the chukka.
Going into the sixth chukka the USA men would have had to again pull back a deficit as they were down 17-14. This time the Zambian men were the stronger, Mikey Krynauw won ball at the front and Damien Harris won the race out the back a couple of times against Braxton Hamlin as they quickly added 5 goals to 1 from the USA. The USA had the final word as Braxton Hamlin got out the back quickest in the last line out, put in a big pick up and then a good pass to Seth Alcott from him to score but it wasn’t enough and the final score confirmed a 22-16 win for Zambia and it means they top their group with just one match to go.
The first game of the day had seen Australia defeat Ireland by 30-13 but Ireland will be a lot more pleased with how their team played. They fought hard throughout against an Australian side which just makes so few mistakes and puts on a lot of pressure and after two chukkas they were only down by 9-6 with some strong play from both their men’s and ladies’ sections. However, Australia kept doing what they do so well, they made the hard pick ups that Ireland missed, they won more ball from the line outs and gradually the stretched the lead to 24-12 after five chukkas. We even had the rare sight of an Australian throwing an overarm goal as Abbott Grills demonstrated in the fourth chukka that he is very capable of throwing overarm goals at pace as well as underarms.
The last chukka saw the Australia men put on a master class with Jim Grills scoring freely out the front and Abbott Grills and Will Weston winning ball from the line outs. Ireland will be pleased they played better than against Zimbabwe and will aim to come out all guns blazing against the UK tomorrow, as a win there by a big enough margin could still see them qualify from the group stages (editor’s note: plus they will just want to beat the UK!).
The UK kept their own hopes of qualifying alive with a win against Zimbabwe. They led from the start, though it did get a bit nervy for the UK supporters in the fourth chukka as Zimbabwe’s men started to narrow the gap and at the end of that chukka it was only 10-7, after the UK ladies had built the lead to a four goal gap at the end of third chukka. It didn’t get much better for the UK at the start of the fifth chukka, as Zimbabwe swapped Suzanne Sargeant to number 1 from number 3, where she had been putting good pressure on Charlotte Pykett in the UK number 1 shirt, and Suzanne duly scored two quick goals to make it 10-9. However, having Suzanne in attack meant they didn’t have Suzanne in defence and four goals followed from the UK to make it 14-9 again by the end of the fifth.
The UK men clearly came out with a game plan of protecting the lead and putting the game to bed in the final chukka but Zimbabwe got the ball from the first couple of line outs and made it 14-11. Then there was a big break in play while Zimbabwe had to substitute off their number 3 Hamish Michael for their impact player Codi Campbell, seemingly because of a problem with Hamish’s horse. They were allowed two minutes to make the change but they failed to do so within the time. The UK had been awarded an attacking 30 yard line free throw before the change occurred and so Max Pedley got to take this into an unmarked area. However, either due to a sense of fair play or because the UK were quite happy to see the clock run down, Max duly collected the ball in the area from the free throw and went for a little ride around the box while Codi Campbell cantered up the field to mark him. Upon arriving Codi Campbell quickly put an end to any further delays by gently tapping Max on the helmet and conceding a free goal, again either due to the fact he felt that it was only fair as Max could have scored anyway or because he just didn’t really want the UK wasting much time in the area. After that though the UK did win a couple more balls and put away two more goals and at the final bell it was 17-11 to the UK.
The UK will be relieved to have got past what some people thought was a potential banana skin for them and there were some better signs from their ladies section than against Australia. Rachael Duhig played most of the match at number 3 and, until Suzanne Sargeant was switched to number 1 in the fifth chukka for Zimbabwe, Rachael managed to put a lot of pressure on Paula Sparrow in the number 1 shirt.
The final match of the game saw South Africa come out with all guns blazing against New Zealand as they looked to remove the memory of the defeat against Zambia on the opening day. They did exactly that as they romped to a 26-6 win. The scoreline was harsh on New Zealand who showed some great polocrosse at points but particularly in the last two chukkas their horses looked tired and South Africa really stepped up a gear, possibly due to having fresher horses. New Zealand didn’t help themselves in the second chukka when their men gave away three free goals in quick succession for wild swinging and some cynical down hitting and they gave away a couple more in the later stages of the game.
The New Zealand ladies were mainly undone by losing the first chukka 6-1 as the South African ladies grabbed nearly all the ball, despite some hard work from Beth Peaker in the number 3 shirt. The next two chukkas for them were closer but New Zealand just couldn’t get enough ball or take all their chances, though both teams missed two shots at goal in the fifth chukka.
The New Zealand men always had a hard battle on their hand, South Africa played a fairly physical game at points and perhaps got away with a few questionable ride offs, but ultimately they were so good at winning ball out of the line out and their link up play was exceptional that they would have won anyway. There were some brilliant passes between Travis Timm, Jannie Steenkamp and Graham Maclarty, who never looked like missing a shot at goal in the final chukka as he shot overarm after overarm at high speed. Graham Maclarty also pulled off one exceptional catch behind his horse after, for once, the pass to him was not as perfect as it should have been. Reaching back at high speed he somehow pulled it in as he crossed the thirty line yard line and went on to score between the posts. Travis Timm was quiet when he played in the match against Zambia and also in the early part of this match but in the final chukka he came alive, winning a number of balls and linking up instinctly with Graham Maclarty. New Zealand’s Jarrod Richardson had some good moments but ultimately they just didn’t have enough ball or, it seemed, enough horse power left at the end to try and stop the South African express train.
So day 2 saw the results go as predicted but there is still a lot to play for on day 3. Zambia and Australia would look to be safely through but Zambia would probably far rather top their group and then face either the UK, Ireland or Zimbabwe in the semi finals, as it seems likely Australia will top the other group, baring a shock defeat to Zimbabwe. The UK know a win against Ireland will put them through to the semi finals, something the UK missed out on four years ago, but last time those two countries faced each other in a World Cup that match went all the way to golden goal. One thing is for sure, day 3 will be very exciting!