The inaugural Western Phoenix tournament held at Ashfields Polo Club in Great Canfield was a great success. The Weather Gods smiled on the polocrosse playing community and Essex seemed to be the only part of the country that did not suffer torrential rain. There were some light showers on Saturday but the weather was bright and sunny on Sunday for the finals. The pitch were good, level with plenty of grass cover and there was plenty of grass in the camping field as well to keep the horses happy. Nearly all the grades were played as round robin competitions.
Kent returned to the A grade battle field this weekend and lifted their second title of the season. They dominated from start to finish, with no team getting within about 15 to 20 goals of them. Jason Webb swapped to playing a 3 and Todd Weston moved up to number 1. Jamie Grimmond has now also arrived in the country for Kent and he played alongside the young Beau Moore and Sam Sics (borrowed from Pennine for the weekend).
The final match of the weekend saw Kent take on the Crusaders and allowed Rick Murray to reaquaint himself with two of his favourite people in UK polocrosse, Webby and Oscar Harding. Rick played a physical game, much to the displeasure of Simon Shearing who was umpiring. Certainly, Oscar and Jason became reaquainted with Rick’s elbow on a couple of occasions but Kent gave as good as they got, with Todd Weston at points forgetting about his role of goal scoring and instead trying to keep Rick away from Jason. Kent ended up beating the Crusaders by a comfortable margin and so went home happy, if slightly bruised.
2nd) Welsh Dragons
1) Andy Baker (Crusaders)
2) Oscar Harding (Kent)
3) James Davidson (Highlanders)
The B grade was won by Pennine, for the second tournament in a row. Having won it combined with Celyn at Pennine, they won it by themselves at Western Phoenix. The B grade was played in sections rather than teams and the Pennine section of Joel Sics, Rhi Lee-Jones and Tess Newton beat a Pendle Wildcats team into second place. When the two teams actually played each other they drew but Pennine won overall on goal difference. Joel and Rhi also picked up Best 1 and Best 2, sadly Tessa didn’t complete a hat trick of best numbers but Pennine captain Joel Sics said he was pleased with the way she played anyway.
2nd) Pendle Wildcats
1) Joel Sics (Pennine)
2) Rhi Lee-Jones (Pennine)
3) Shelley King (Pendle)
Pennine also lifted the C grade title, with a strong young team sweeping all before them. They convincingly beat a Kent side in the final with both Alex Richardson and Bryony Cross scoring good goals and Claudia Richardson and Dean Chappell winning a lot of ball for Pennine. The pick of the Kent players were perhaps Sammy Rowden playing at number 3 and Sam Marsh at number 1 but they were deprived of the ball and chances to score.
1) Vickie Metcalfe (Pendle)
2) Dean Chappell (Pennine)
3) Sammy Rowden (Kent)
Kent achieved a one-two in the D grade, with two good sections working well in order to fill the top two places. Ben Marsh and Richard Felce were combining well in one section at 3 and 1 and in the other section Tania Turner won best number 3 for her contribution.
1) Gemma Stacie (Kent)
2) Alison Barnett (Western Phoenix)
3) Tania Turner (Kent)
The E Grade was won by Solent, their first ever grade victory. They pushed Western Phoenix into second place at their home tournament.
2nd) Western Phoenix
1) Dan Kelly (Solent)
2) Nikki Tomset
3) Matt Fookes (Solent)
The Juniors provided a victory for the home club as Western Phoenix finished in the top spot with Kent in second place. For Western Phoenix Alex Verhagen played well, picking up best number 2, while for Kent Ollie Halcrow won Best Number 1 (a prize his older brother Will has also picked up a fair few times)
1st) Western Phoenix
1) Ollie Halcrow (Kent)
2) Alex Verhagen (Western Phoenix)
3) Kim Marsh