The Highlanders clinched their first win of the year as they easily beat an Arden side in the final on Sunday. This was the first time the Highlanders had fielded a full strength team (except perhaps for the absence of Shelley King) and it did look very strong.
It could be said that the Arden team were under strength and under horsed. The Nationals side is unlikely to include Simon Paynter or George Wilson-Fitzgerald; Jason Burbidge and Alex Bull are their likely replaceents. Greg Sargeant also revealed that the only member of the Arden side on their top horse was Sophie Lodder and this particularly was the case for Jono Keen whose mount could not even touch his main horse, Touch.
However, this should not be allowed to detract from the quality of the Highlanders. They were on top form and Bryan Davidge and Guy Robertson looked particularly good as they picked up Best Number 1 and 3 respectively. Guy deservedly picked up a haul of prizes, the full list is below!
Guy said afterwards that he was pleased with the win and that the side this weekend would probably be the Nationals side, except for Shelley King coming in for Edward Beckerlegge. He also said he hoped to field two A grade sides at Nationals; the other would include Becks, Andrew Schaefer, James Davidson, Anna Robertson, Lucy Shell and someone else. There are always rumours about the Highlanders and two names being linked with them this weekend were Shaye Williams and Rick Murray; if he returns from New Zealand for the Nationals.
The Highlander’s victory means that Becks can claim a personal victory in his battle with Greg Sargeant. He had said before the weekend that he wanted Sophie Lodder as his prize and he was seen carrying her off after prize giving, something Greg didn’t seem overly concerned with.
1) Bryan Davidge (Highlanders)
2) Edward Beckerlegge (Highlanders)
3) Guy Robertson (Highlanders)
Best Lady Player: Sophie Lodder (Arden)
Best Horse and Rider combination: Bryan Davidge and Bullet Lee
The Guy Robertson Role of Honour
Captain of the winning A Grade Team
Best Number Three in A grade
Best Male Rider
Best Horse in A grade – Cindy Lee
The B Grade was won by a very strong Northern Lions side in a hard fought final against Pennine. Shaye Williams predictability shone for the Lions as did Jenny Palmer who played very well at number 1. Pennine had surprised people by getting to the final as they had had to beat a very talented Welsh Dragons side to win their group. This hadn’t looked that likely as the Welsh crushed Liscombe, who Pennine only beat on golden goal. However, having got there they played their part and in the middle chukkas the game got very close but it ran away from Pennine in the final two.
Pennine were clearly aggreived with some of the umpiring of the final. This was particularly true for Tom Wigglesworth who peformed what he (and a large number of spectators) felt was a hard but perfectly legal tackle of Nigel Smith and was very surprised to have a goal on the board awarded against him. Tom said afterwards, “I didn’t even get his arm, unless his arm is made of cane!” If this is true then the one possibility is the umpire felt he tackled around the front of the horse as the ponies were head to head at the time.
Grumbles aside, the Lions did deserve to win. They were the better side even though Joel Sics and Nervys Cross shone for Pennine and tried their hardest to keep the match in their grasp. The main question for the Lions now is will Shaye Williams still be playing for them at Nationals or will he be tempted back to A grade?
1st) Northern Lions
1) Joel Sics (Pennine)
2) Laura Scott (Welsh Dragons)
3) Luke Mathie (Welsh Dragons)
Best Horse: Sasha – Charlotte Pykett (Welsh Dragons)
The C grade was won by a Pendle side that seems to be going from strength to strength this season. They were helped this weekend by the return of Liam Taylor and by the fine form of Kerry Bean who, as the C grade number ones are discovering, is almost as good as number three nowadays as she was three years ago. Their closest rivals were the Welsh Dragons but they couldn’t stop them in a close match which was delayed for a long time while the Air Ambulance arrived and left again.
1st) Pendle Wildcats
2nd) Welsh Dragons
1) Tori Phillips (Arden)
2) Frankie Keen (Arden)
3) Kerry Bean (Pendle)
Best Horse: Sky – Rhianydd Lee Jones (Welsh Dragons)
The D grade was split into a Cup and Plate. The Cup was won by Kent Target with Pennine finishing in second place, while the Plate went to Celyn. There was a French team competing in the D grade this weekend and this was great to see as hopefully it will lead to more polocrosse on the continent.
1st) Kent Target
1) Oliver Harwood (Kent Target)
2) Vero Mossaz (Liscombe)
3) Alex Clay (Celyn)
Best Horse: Oliver Harwood’s horse (I don’t know it’s name)
The E grade was also won by Kent Target who do seem to be very strong in the lower grades this year. Arden finsihed well in second. Will Halcrow again performed well in the number one shirt for Kent; though whether he should really be the E grade or whether Kent should be using his skills higher up the grades is another question.
1st) Kent Target
1) Will halcrow (Kent Target)
2) Natalie Gelley (Kent Target)
3) Hazel Wilson (Kent Target)
Best Horse: Sahara – Will Halcrow
The juniors was once again won by Celyn, who do seem to be dominating the Junior grades this year. Whether anyone can put together a team to beat them remains to be seen but if anyone can it may be Centaur who finished in second this weekend with Pennine in third.
1) Laura Hughes (Celyn)
2) Rosie Miller (Celyn)
3) Caroline Northmore (Wessex Warriors)
Best Horse: Charlie – Alyson Bater (Pegasus Croome)
I’m not actually sure if this was a true Primary Juniors grade as it was actually called Youngsters but regardless of that it was won by Arden who beat Centaur by one goal in a very hard fought match which could have gone either way. Centaur can perhaps take some comfort from the fact they claimed two of the best numbers at prize giving.
1) Charlotte Jones (Centaur)
2) Lucinda Cornforth (Arden)
3) Libby Tyler (Centaur)
Best Horse: Zimba – Harry Twinberry (Pegasus Croome)